Here’s Why Camp America Was The Experience Of A Lifetime
This time last year I was working in a camp in the middle of nowhere, aka Starlight, Pennsylvania, where I had one of the best life experiences to date. Here’s why Camp America was the experience of a lifetime for me:
The Application Process
When I decided to sign up for Camp America, I didn’t actually believe I would go, although at the time I was going through some changes in my life, and decided the best thing to do was get away.
I had always loved the idea of working in an American camp but didn’t think I actually had it in me to be away from home for three months. But after passing a local meeting with a Camp America representative, who reassured me that it would be one of the best things I’d ever do. I decided to take the plunge.
Although I went through the Camp America organisation, although I now know it is better to go through Camp Leaders, as it is generally cheaper, as you may receive some sort of refund. However, Camp America is still a great company, which helps you find the perfect camp suited to you, through their website and attending camp fairs, where you can get a job on the spot if you wish.
I actually attended the Manchester Camp America fair, where I nearly accepted a job at a camp, although ultimately decided the camp wasn’t my cup of tea. It had some very traditional views, so basically boys stick to football boys and girls stick to dance, and in 2018 that’s not how it should be. It was very competitive at the fair and many of the camps turned away anyone under 21, which wasn’t a problem for me , but if you are planning on going to Camp and you are under 21 then I’d advise you not to attend the fair. Also, as I was looking for a Campower role (support staff) rather than a Counsellor position there were less options, as counsellors are a priority to the camps.
After walking away from the fair with a friend of mine who secured herself a role, I felt deflated and felt like maybe Camp America wasn’t for me after all. However, not long after the fair I was contacted by three camps, regarding interviews. Camp Starlight stood out to me straight away, who offered me a role as Admin Assistant, a job I know extremely well. I was interviewed by a camp director and a manager via Skype, and it was honestly one of the best interviews I have ever had, as it was like I wasn’t even being interviewed, as they both made me feel so comfortable and welcome before I even stepped foot in Starlight.
Once my place was confirmed I had to travel to London to get my visa, which is not as intimidating as it sounds. I went with a friend, and after having the clever idea of going out in Camden the night before we went to get our visas hungover and late, but on the upside we skipped the queues, and we were done in half an hour. So don’t stress, it’s a piece of cake even with a hangover.
Next thing I knew it was the 9th of June, and I was in London Heathrow waiting for my flight to New York with my first camp mate, who I spotted in his Camp America t-shirt. It didn’t really go with my plane outfit so I used it as a pyjama top instead. But thank god for him being with me because there is no way I would have got to New York with my two suitcases in one piece. A big tip for anyone going to camp, pack light because you won’t even wear half what you bring, and you can order everything you need online from the amazing Walmart.
After somehow getting to camp in one piece, after a 7-hour flight, a journey from JFK to Newark, and a two-and-a-half-hour bus from Newark airport, all of us support staff had a welcome party waiting for us at Camp Starlight. A party that included songs, food, sleeping bags, and a lice check. Just the usual party.
Camp was fast-paced even before any of the kids arrived, as the pre-camp team worked together to make the camp the best it could be before the kids showed up. Then once they did show up it was 100 mph. The kids were welcomed with tears, hugs and love like everyone else at camp, we were all part of the family.
I worked six days a week at camp, and on our days the camp took us out to explore malls, national parks, and nearby towns. As a support staff member I had the nights off, unlike the counsellors, so if you want more time off Campower might be the better option. But that doesn’t mean you can slack off, as I worked very hard in the office, although it never really felt like a job, as we had the best office team. Including the girls who I lived and worked with, although at times we got on each other’s nerves, they are actually some of my best friends from camp. Not to mention our office manager, who is honestly the loveliest, funniest and most honest person I have ever met, who was my Camp Mom for three months. Even the senior members of staff were amazing, and the camp directors, who were basically our adopted parents for our whole time at camp, making camp such a safe space.
One of the senior staff members I remember well was Scott Beigel, who was a long-serving member at camp, and provided the camp with the best leadership and the best one liners. Scott was also a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Florida, where the horrendous shooting took place, and sadly where Scott’s life was taken. The news shocked and upset me, as well as the entire Camp Starlight family. And although I didn’t know Scott very well, he still made an impact, I remember him visiting the office, and cracking jokes. I told him he had such an English sense of humour, and he said that was the best compliment he had ever received. He is missed immensely by everyone at Starlight, and from what I have seen they are honouring Scott’s memory at camp right now, which is amazing to see. It makes me wish I was there.
I did consider going back, although I believe because I had the best experience going again would ruin it, because the first time is always the best time. But I do miss a lot of people I met at camp, as the majority of people are the loveliest, and most positive people I have ever met. I found friends for life who I keep in touch with, and actually one of my best friends from camp is visiting me from Philadelphia, so an American in Liverpool will be an interesting story to tell, and it might even cure the post-camp blues.
Did you experience Camp America? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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An aspiring journalist from Liverpool passionate about Yoga, Dance, Fashion, and Travel.
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