How to Survive Working at a Summer Camp
Every summer 10 million young people unite in over 12 thousand summer camps in the USA in hope of a summer of a lifetime and that is exactly what is set to happen. Brave step for some, working abroad for the first time but with these ten top tips nothing should get in your way of having a simply incredible time this summer.
1. Be like the child
They say the best way to learn when you go to a completely new surrounding is just to watch and follow. Camp will be unlike any place you've ever been or will ever go, so who better to learn from than the kids. As counsellors typically at that age of adulthood being forced upon you and not yet being ready for it, this could be your last chance to liberate that inner child. It is welcomed here so let it out!
2. Learn the camp songs
Regardless of whether you can sing or not, the songs are just a way of camp life. At times used for entertainment or in gatherings to bring everyone together. Some of the best moments you'll have this summer will be in front of that campfire belting out "country roooooaaaad, take me hooooomme..." or something just as cheesy. If you can't remember the lyrics just use a book and still lead the children. It can be used in chants as you walk between activities or passing a little time, even better if you get the actions down too.
3. Speak American
It turns out American English and British English are actually pretty different. It can even seem like most nouns have alternative so don't be surprised if the kids stare blankly at you when you give out some instructions. The main ones to remember: rubbish - trash, jumper - sweater, torch - flashlight, cutlery - silverware and toilet - bathroom!!
4. Embrace fancy dress
Though fancy dress is another British English phrase which could get you blank stares, Americans just say costume. Themes are fun and camps are usually full of them. If you're able bring a few silly items in your case, you'll be sure to get use of them. Then just go for it, the more you get into the themes the more the kids will. The sillier you look, the better you'll feel.
5. Try as many new things as possible
Seize every opportunity you get, whether it's learning a new skill like archery, kayaking or even break dancing to the classic camp dishes such as s'mores and smacos. At camp you will come across things daily you might never have experienced before so get fully stuck in, it can be an entire year again before you're back and get another chance.
6. Forget beauty sleep
It's overrated anyway and if you're really concerned just don't look in a mirror for the months you're at camp! The mornings creep up before you know it and perhaps you've been woken in the night by frightened children hearing forest noises but up you have to get anyhow and still manage to use more energy than any other standard day. Perhaps it's the kids you'll bounce off, the fresh air or the ridiculous fun you'll come across in the day that you will soon forget any tiredness you may have.
7. Make use of your days off
Yes down time is important, you do need to rest, have some personal time and perhaps catch-up with a few people back home but remember you are in the United States of America! Camp staff will be a mixture of internationals and locals. The internationals will be wanting to seek out new things and the locals will be able to tell or show you where to go.
8. Show off your talents
Regardless of which position you are hired for, there will be room to show what more you can do. Make it known to your camp director and anyone in scheduling roles what other interests you have and skills you possess and remind them at the times of programming. Your talents are welcome here and the kids will love a variety of options.
9. Games games games!
Start noting down all your favourite games that you have come across right from birth until this present moment. Following this ask all your friends too. And even after all that, once you are in camp, learn more games from the other counsellors and children. There will be plenty of opportunity throughout your summer to whip all of these out and it will keep the kids on their toes for what new or old game you may have for them.
10. Keep the memories
This is a summer of a lifetime, you won't want to ever forget it. Take a camera and remember to use it. Keep a journal and note all those funny stories you experience. And if the kids write you cards or give you presents make sure you keep hold of them. At the end of the summer get your fellow counsellors to leaves notes on a memento for you, whether it be a book or your camp shirt. Years to come you'll discover your stash and look through it with a smile on your face and a tear in your eye.
By Araba Adjaye