My name is Ellie and I am a summer camp-a-holic! I have spent the past three wonderful summers working for Ebner Camps in Connecticut, and I am currently gearing up to spend a fourth summer stateside.
When I first applied to go to camp, I searched for hours (to little avail) to find out more about what to expect, different roles at camp, where to work and most importantly, what to pack!! Apart from the agency websites, I found little of the information that I required. Is camp really all tie dye and campfire songs? What kind of food do they serve? How much time off do you get? How many pairs of shoes do I need to pack? The list of unanswered questions I had before I first arrived at camp was endless, which is what brings me here today – to spread the camp love, and to try and give people an idea of why they should go to camp, and what to expect when they get there.
Over the past three years at camp, I have worked at both an all-girls camp AND an all-boys camp in the North East of Connecticut. The camps are brother-sister camps, just a short bus ride (yellow school bus, of course) away from each other. The camps often get together each week for joint activities, competitions and socials (the American version of a school disco!). Each year I like to have a new role at camp to keep things fresh and exciting, so here is my camp CV!
My first two summers were spent at Camp Chinqueka, a girls sleepaway camp. My first role was as a Ropes Counselor, which I LOVED! It involved climbing the tower, sending kids flying down the zip-line and monkeying around on high ropes courses. During my second year at camp, I returned as the Mountain Bikes counselor which was also a blast! The amount of things you can do on a bike is endless, from Bike Polo to Bike Dancing – there was never a dull moment at this activity! I was also a Cabin Counselor to Intermediate campers (aged 10-13). I LOVE this age group, as they are just starting to become independent but still know how to follow the rules when it comes to things like cabin clean-up! I also like having campers at this age as I then get the opportunity to see them grow and mature each year when they return to camp.
This year was a HUGE change for me, as I decided to move to work at the boys sleepaway camp, Camp Awosting. In addition, I was no longer a Camp Counselor! This summer I was working in the Office at camp, and for me it was a COMPLETELY different experience to my previous summers. I had a lot of fun in the office, but there is SO much work that goes in to running a summer camp that I had never even given thought to. Although I enjoyed my summer, I did miss spending all day every day with the campers so I have decided that next summer I will be back outside in the sunshine, hanging out with the kids. My new role will be as the Junior Facilitator at Camp Awosting. This is more like the role of a general Counselor, but with the youngest children on camp. Escorting them to activities and joining in the fun once we are there sounds MUCH more up my street than being inside (although don’t get me wrong, the air-con was lush!).
Here is a little bit more about me:
- Eating (mostly anything).
- Fancy dress.
- The Office (U.S.) – Dwight Schrute ❤
- Animal documentaries – David Attenborough is GOD!
- CAMP (of course).
- Tracking Oscar the shark on my Ocearch shark tracker app.
- Seeing that people from all over the world are viewing my blog.
- Collecting 50p coins (if you happen to have the 2012 Olympic hockey coin, hit me up!).
- Being hungry.
- Rainy days (especially at camp where 90% of activities are outside!).
- People who are late.
- Leaving camp when summer is over (boohoo!).
- The lack of sunlight in England during the winter.
Three items I would never go to camp without…
- A torch.
- Crocs (some call me Ellie, some call me the Fashion Queen).
- Tweezers (I may not brush my hair all summer, but even I draw the line at rocking a unibrow).
My favourite camp memory is…
Every year at camp, the girls compete against the boys on Water Sports day. The day is made up of tons of different swimming races, relays, a long distance swim, a blobbing competition, and the main event: WAR CANOE. The girls are great swimmers and work super hard during their morning swim practices, so the girls camp OBVIOUSLY won Water Sports day 2015. I never doubted we would. However, the boys won War Canoe. This is a canoe race both teams take part in, and the campers have to try out for the team. Practice is VERY intense, and it is a huge honour to be part of the team.
So Water Sports day 2016 came around and the girls were smashing the boys in all of the swimming races. War canoe was the final event of the day, and the girls set off. The girls had now not won the race for 18 YEARS!!! It seemed impossible, especially when the boys are so much bigger and stronger than the girls. However, the girls had practised hard and were looking good. They were moving fast and their turns were perfect. THE GIRLS WON WAR CANOE!!!!!!! The whole of the girls camp were screaming and cheering in celebration, and that will definitely be a hard memory to top!
My favourite camp song/cheer is…
‘GO BANANAS, GO GO BANANAS!’
My favourite camp food is…
Ice cream sundaes, with whipped cream, hot caramel sauce, gummy bears, crushed Oreo’s, chocolate sprinkles and marshmallow fluff! YUMMY!
My top three pieces of camp advice…
- Seek out other Counselors from your camp before you arrive. Many camps have groups/pages on social media for you to join and chat to other Counselors before you arrive. I spoke to my camp bestie several times on Facebook before arriving at camp, and she was able to give me some great camp-specific advice and made my arrival seem a LOT less daunting. Search your camp name on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to find other Counselors, or drop your Camp Director a quick email to see if they can point you in the right direction.
- Wait until you get to camp to arrange any post-camp travels. I have met SO many people who have booked on to a TrekAmerica tour or something similar in their first year before arriving at camp, and then regretted it as soon as they have spent a few weeks at camp listening to their new besties discussing where to travel after camp. Don’t get me wrong, they all had a fab time on the tours but there were some serious cases of FOMO!
- Don’t lie about your skills/talents on your camp application. There are SO many different types of roles available at summer camp and I promise that there will be one that suits your skill set. Be honest and realistic – if you went to Go-Ape one time, that doesn’t qualify you to be a Climbing/Ropes Counselor for example. There is nothing worse than when someone arrives at camp and are fired because they are not capable of leading the activity they have been hired to teach. Remember, you are responsible for other people’s children, and that requires HUGE trust in you from both the children’s parents and your Camp Director. DO put down all of your skills though, however random, to increase the chances of you being hired!