So, let’s cut back to March 2018, the start of my AmeriCamp experience. I was in between my 2nd and 3rd year at university and I was looking for something to do in my time off during summer. I had dreams of going travelling, getting a bit of work experience, and being somewhere hot or at least somewhere hotter than Scotland, which didn’t seem too much of a challenge. One of my close friends had recommended having a look at summer camps in America as it seemed a great way to do all of those things at the same time.
I first started doing a bit of research online and came across a few different companies, but I felt quite drawn to AmeriCamp. Everything seemed to be laid out really well and I seemed to have all the information I needed upfront which was great. I was able to look through the total breakdown of all the costs, what was included, and what I was going to get paid all through their Costs & Salaries page. It really broke everything down for me which I like because I’m definitely a ‘review the fine details’ kind of person.
I also loved that I was able to see a lot of people’s first-hand experience of the whole process through the AmeriCamp reviews and blog posts on their website. It was really helpful to see these experiences coming from real people and seeing just how much people had enjoyed their time at summer camps. After taking in all the information I needed, I spent approximately 0.5 seconds contemplating if I’d rather be spending the summer working inside at a retail job I hated or spending my summer in the States, working with children and working outdoors. I decided to start my application and get the process underway.
I started my application relatively late in the season, so I decided to give the AmeriCamp office a call just to make sure everything was okay. They reassured me that they’d definitely be able to get me placed at a summer camp as they work with hundreds of camps all over the US. I was a little disappointed that I had missed the camp fairs by the time I had signed up too because I knew that they were an excellent opportunity to get hired on the spot, but I was also reassured that it would be just as easy to be placed online, and it really was!
I remember getting my email through saying that I had been placed at a summer camp in Massachusetts and I was over the moon. I could not wait to spend 3 months at a summer camp in America, it sounded like the absolute dream come true. This was just the start of the process for me though. I was quite nervous about the next stages being organised to get everything done in time. I knew that my main priorities were:
- Getting my DBS check completed
- Getting my Visa
- Booking my flights·Going to an Orientation Day
- Working out how to leave my dog for 3 months
This sounded like a lot but thankfully the AmeriCamp team were so helpful in taking me through literally every single stage, every single tick box on my visa forms and they helped me get a great deal on my flight too. I did have to prepare for leaving my dog behind by myself but honestly, I feel like if I had asked, someone would have helped me with that too!
I had spoken to some people from my camp that were on my flight and we’d agreed to meet up at the airport. It felt already like I knew these people were going to be my friends for life before we’d even finished our breakfast at the airport Wetherspoons. It was so good to be travelling with other people and sharing the excitement with them at every stage. We took a bus from New York to get to our camp, so we had a bit of time to do a brief view of some sights before arriving at camp. It really felt like the adventure had started already and we’d only been off the plane for a couple of hours. We got to the meeting point and met the rest of the people we’d be spending the summer with. It felt like a blur of people, but we spent the whole bus journey chatting away, finding out where people were from and what they were going to be teaching at camp. It was so exciting to get to meet so many new people that were all going headfirst into this adventure with you.
The AmeriCamp Experience
Now to the real part though, the actual experience of being at camp, the experience that I can wholeheartedly say has changed my life for the better. All I had in my mind before I went was the typical American Summer Camp experience that you see in the movies and it was exactly that, but about 1000x better. I was banded together with 40 other counsellors that grew to be like my family in a matter of days. Even two years on, there are still people that I speak to nearly every day, and that remain to be some of my best friends. I was worried about making friends to start with, but I’ve never experienced anything like how close we all became and how quickly it happened.
One of the major plus points for me was the amount that I was learning when I was there and the amount that I found myself pushing myself to try new things. I’m not typically too shy but I do sometimes hesitate to do things that I’m unfamiliar with. Camp really readjusted my comfort zone and showed me that I was capable of so much more than I had thought. I was climbing trees, swimming in open water, dressing up in costumes, looking after kids much younger than I had before and I was having the absolute time of my life. There wasn’t a moment where I was even thinking about being homesick because I was so involved and excited with every single part of my day.
As much as I mostly went to a summer camp in America for the opportunity to travel, get a tan, get paid and get to work with children, also in the long term has been great for my CV. It’s brilliant being about to put it down and talk about all the experiences and skills that I have gained through working at a summer camp. I also went back for my second summer to the same camp on a promotion to the management team, so getting to put that down for future employers to see is entirely invaluable. I definitely couldn’t have progressed as quickly to management working in the kind of retail job that I would have done if I’d stayed in the UK.
The Overall Review!
I honestly could not recommend the AmeriCamp experience enough; it was an experience that meant more to me than I can ever put down into words. If I could just live my whole life at a year-round summer camp, I would drop everything and do it. The people are some of the best I’ve met, and that’s kids as well as my fellow counsellors. When I came back in my first year, I was already looking at starting the process of going back again. Going to camp now seems like an absolute no-brainer to me, I’m at my absolute happiest, I get to do some of the most amazing things, and I get to meet some phenomenal people. I don’t plan my year and see if I can fit in going to camp, my year is very much scheduled on the assumption that I’m going back to camp. AmeriCamp made the whole process really easy for me in my first year and going back as a returner as well. I can’t recommend the experience enough, I literally try and encourage everyone I know to sign up and have the best experience of their lives too!
Start your AmeriCamp adventure today by starting your application now!