Following on from Part One of the A-Z summer camp glossary, I have created Part Two (letters N-Z). Find out what happens during rest hour, how to play Tetherball and what goes down at a camp social. If you missed out on Part One, find it HERE!
Newcomb Ball is basically an easier, child-friendly version of volleyball. The aim of the game is for one team to throw the ball over the net (volleyball net) and for it to land without anyone catching it. If the ball is missed, the team that did not catch it must lose a player. The game continues until one of the team has no players left. Pretty simple!
As most camps are in the middle of nowhere, the night sky at camp is INCREDIBLE! The lack of light pollution means you can see the stars SO clearly, and I always try to look up and take a moment to appreciate the sky at least once a week.
The U.S. is home to 59 protected areas known as National Parks, which can make great post-camp travel destinations. You may have heard of parks such as Yellowstone (Wyoming), the Everglades (Florida), the Grand Canyon (Arizona) or the Rocky Mountains (Colorado). Visiting all the National Parks in America is definitely on my bucket list!
Well, this one is pretty self explanatory but it’s a crazy, hectic day so I thought I would explain in a bit more detail. Opening day is the day the kids arrive at camp, and most camps have 4 of these throughout the summer (one every 2 weeks). The campers come tearing through the gates as soon as they are opened, and are eager to check in as quickly as possible to bag themselves the best bunk in the cabin. Opening day often involves lots of greeting parents and carrying trunks, so make sure you look presentable and dress for the occasion (no high heels).
O.D. (Officer of the Day)
Every day at camp, a Counselor is assigned Officer of the Day (or O.D. for short). Its the O.D.’s job to make sure the day runs to scheduele – so playing the bugle or ringing the bell between activities is often their job. The O.D. is also often responsible for saying grace each day at meals, or making any important announcements on camp. It can be a stressful day making sure camp runs like clockwork, but you normally only have to do it once or twice over summer. Phew!
The majority of time at camp is spent outdoors – from outdoor electives, meals or evening activities – which means camp can suck in the rain! Luckily the weather is beautiful 95% of the time. I love spending my summer outdoors soaking up the fresh air and catching a few rays!
At least once a week, many camps will eat one of their evening meals outside rather than in the dining hall. The kids love being able to choose who they get to sit with, and the staff can also choose their favourite bunch of campers to hang out with (just kidding – we don’t have favourites… right?!). Porch suppers usually include yummy food from the BBQ and at my camp, porch supper means ICE CREAM SUNDAES for dessert! Best day of the week, hands down.
Activities on camp beginning with ‘P’: Photography.
This is where the letter begin to get a bit ropey, so I apologise in advance (just wait for X, Y and Z!!) Basically once you’re at camp, quiet will be a thing of the past. You are rarely ever on your own at camp (yes, even when you’re on the toilet), so make the most of the peace and quiet you have in your life now before you go!
Campers LOVE to ask questions about your personal life. Tell them about your family, your friends, your job – but give them the PG version! And make sure any photos you take to camp with you to decorate your bunk are PG too – they don’t need to see a photo of you and your friends sloshed in Vodka Revs on New Year! When it comes to the opposite sex, they less they know the better. If they even get a slight hint that there is a boy/girl in your life, you will be HOUNDED every single day for the rest of camp for every tiny detail – and nobody has time for that!!
Trust me when I say that rest hour is the BEST hour. After lunch during the hottest part of the day, campers and counselors all return to their cabins for rest hour. Rest hour is time to chill, nap, read, write a letter, listen to music… but most importantly BE QUIET! The younger campers hate rest hour as they are hyped up on sugar from lunch but as they get older, the campers start to realise they need it just as much as us OAPS (counselors!).
As I have said before, most clocks are run like clockwork and have regimented routines. Personally, I think this is perfect – I know where I need to be, and what time I need to be there. Even after you leave camp, you will find your stomach starts to rumble at 8am,. 12.30pm and 6pm on the dot because your body is in such as set routine!
Day off road trips are one of the highlights of camp. You can take a car with a bunch of your friends and head off to wherever your heart desires – the beach, a city… the possibilities are endless! My favourite road trip of 2016 was when we went to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island, and stayed the night in a Motel (my first ever Motel experience!). We spent the day on the beach followed by a night of cocktails and karaoke – perfect!!
Activities on camp beginning with ‘R’: Rowing/Ropes.
Socials at camp are like the English version of a children’s disco. The campers dance to the American versions of the Cha Cha Slide (known as the ‘Wobble’ or the ‘Cupid Shuffle’) and generally chase the opposite member of sex around the dancefloor.
Socials as a Counselor often involve a patrol/duty, which can be anything from dance floor duty (a job that involves dancing?? Sign me up!), door duty or bathroom duty (boo!).
Camp showers… where to begin. The lines are long, the water is lukewarm (if you’re lucky) and the pressure is awful. Summer camps aren’t exactly spas (sadly!). My advice would be to learn how to wash your hair and body within 3 minutes prior to camp, and never go in there without shoes on.
A s’more is a traditional campfire treat popular in the U.S., consisting of a marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of cracker/wafer/biscuit placed over a campfire to go all gooey and yummy!
America is covered in State Parks, which make great locations for days off or road trips after camp. They can range from beaches, to woodlands or mountain ranges. State Parks tend to be smaller than the previously mentioned National Parks, but make great picnic and sunbathing spots for you and your camp buddies!
Days off spent at Hammonasset Beach State Park
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
ESSENTIALS!!!! As July begins in the U.S., the temperatures start to increase and high factor suncream and sunglasses are vital! Make sure the campers are covered in sunscreen too!
Each camp will have their own songs that are sung at various points throughout the summer. For example; my camp has a song we sing at the beginning of each campfire and a song we sing each night before bed (taps). You will learn campfire songs, songs to sing in the dining hall, tribal songs, spirit songs… the list is endless!! Camps love to sing (and so do I!), and they also love to learn new songs so don’t be afraid to teach a new one. Unfortunately, the songs don’t stay camp… I often find myself humming along to songs once I’, back home – and it drives me CRAZY!!!
Camps will have special events throughout the summer where the usual scheduele may be interrupted- these are normally GREAT days! As the 4th of July is a HUGE deal in America, camps will usually do something special to celebrate (don’t forget to pack your American flag gear for the day!). We also go on Tubing trips, visit the local Theme Park and take our senior campers away on a Senior trip for a few days. I was lucky enough to have the chance to go on Senior Trip last year, and we took the campers to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for the week! If the camp has a brother/sister camp, they will often come together for co-ed activities/competitions, which are always great fun!
Senior Trip 2016
Activities on camp beginning with ‘S’: Swimming/Sailing/Sports.
Tribes are a HUGE part of camp life. At my camp, everyone is placed into one of three different tribes (Maricopa, Arapaho or Seneca), but other camps may have Colour War (everyone is in a colour team) rather than tribes. I am a proud MARICOPA (the yellow tribe), and I love a bit of friendly competition with my sister tribes! Its all about who can wear the most of their colour, cheer the loudest and have the most tribal spirit!
Tetherball is a game where two players hit a ball tied to a string or rope that is fastened to a stationary pole – a bit like swingball but without the bats! The campers love a game of Tetherball in their free time, and love it even more if they can beat a Counselor!
Traditions are a huge part of camp life. Each camp will have their own traditions that will be repeated year after year after year. For example it is traditional at my camp that each summer, the senior girls will perform ‘Candlelight’ during the second session of camp. Candlelight is a synchronised swimming routine in the lake, performed at night whilst holding candles. It is a beautiful tradition that goes waaaaaaay back, and it means a great deal to all involved.
Camp provides a great opportunity to travel – not only after camp, but long after camp finishes too! If you have read my ‘Planning your Post-Camp Travels‘ post, you will know that you have 30 days on your visa after camp ends to explore the U.S. In addition, you meet so many people at camp that so many windows of opportunity open up for you! After camp this year, I’m going to Australia and have so many people I’m looking forward to catching up with and visiting with there!
A summer at camp = a top class tan! Your friends will all be super jel when you go back to England at the end of the summer a beautiful shade of mahogany. We all know life’s better with a tan, right?! Even if it is one with dodgy watch and sock lines!
Previously mentioned with camp songs, Taps is a song often sang at the end of the day by many camps. If you have ever been a Girl Guide/Scout then you will be familiar with the song! It is also played by the military at dusk. The words go:
‘Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.’
Ticks are something to watch out for at camp, especially if your camp is located in the woods/forest or there are lots of bushes! Many ticks carry Lyme’s disease, which can be spread to humans from the bite of an infected tick. Although it is unlikely, I have known two people get Lyme’s disease while I have been at camp! Make sure to check yourself in the shower for ticks, and look out for any ring shaped rashes on your body. If you’re unsure, speak to your Camp Nurse.
Activities on camp beginning with ‘T’: Tennis
The home of summer camps. The American Camp Association (2017) reports that there are more than 14,000 day and resident camps exist in the U.S, with 8,400 resident (overnight) and 5,600 day camps. WOW!
Many camps have visiting days at the end of each session (for my camp, at the end of every 2 week period). Parents come and collect their kids and take them off camp for the day. Many campers often do not have visitors, so they normally go on some fun trip to distract them for the day!
A ‘vacation’ is the American term for a ‘holiday’ – often referred to as a ‘vacay’. Camp is definitely NOT a vacation – and I think this sometimes shocks people when they arrive! Camp is super fun but HARD work and LONG hours – you get to enjoy 30 days of ‘vacation’ after camp though, and its totally worth it!
Activities on camp beginning with ‘V’: Video
The Waterfront is the place to be on camp – and this is coming from a Counselor who has never worked there (and I hate to admit it!). On long hot days, the lake is always the first activity to get sign ups and I am always slightly jealous of them being able to jump in for a quick dip to cool down! I spend all my free time down at the Waterfront and in the lake, and I’m always the first Counselor in line during free swim (with my tube of course!). The Waterfront is also often the place to see killer sunsets too!
Activities on camp beginning with ‘W’: Waterskiing/Woodshop
Wow, that was a challenge -if you can think of a better camp-related word, I’d love to hear it! Going to a summer camp in the U.S. is a great opportunity to get out and explore! I know some staff who like to stay on camp on their days off to relax and catch up on some sleep, but I love nothing more than getting out and going on an adventure! Finding a new lake to hang by or a new diner to eat at is one of the best parts about camp – make the most of it!
A ‘Yank’ is a term used by us Brits to describe the Americans. Why? I have no idea! I even Googled it and I’m still no wiser!
Camps often have Ropes as an activity on camp, which often involve a Zipline. As a former Ropes Counselor, I can vouch for how fun it to throw yourself down the Zipline so make sure you try it if you are given the opportunity! Camps also often have some kind of climbing wall, and low/high ropes courses.