While American summer camps vary significantly in many ways, most camps will follow a schedule similar to this one. It's going to be a challenge and it's going to be hard work, there's no getting around that! What you'll receive in return is surely going to be the most rewarding and memorable experience of your life!
07.30 Wake Up
Waking up to another exciting day of camp makes the early start easy! The sound of a bugle, bell or horn as your alarm clock will quickly become a 'normal' part of your daily routine and you then have the unenviable task of waking your campers!
08.00 Flag Raising
Many camps have a group flag raising each morning and will recite the American ‘Pledge of Allegiance’. Americans are a patriotic nation so make sure you are respectful during this daily tradition.
You will find sweet and savoury, crunchy and sloppy, toasted and chilled... every kind of food available, ready to fuel your day! Many camps will have songs, graces or breakfast chants to get the kids excited for the day ahead.
08.50 Cabin Clean-Up
This is where you'll come to understand the challenge your parents have had with you over the years! Everyone heads back to their cabin, or tent, after breakfast to tidy up. You will be expected to help and oversee the clean up of your cabin area, finding any method possible to motivate your campers! The clean up will involve sweeping, taking out trash, putting wet clothes out to dry and generally making the cabin neat. Camp may run an inspection (possibly with prizes!) each day. Don't forget the decorations for bonus points!
09.30 First Activity Period
The campers will go to their scheduled activities while you teach your specialist activity. If it's a period when you aren't leading your activity then you will be expected to supervise the campers in moving between activities and then assisting with the activity your cabin is attending.
10.30 Second Activity Period
The campers will move on to their next assigned activity for the day. If you are an activity specialist then you will receive a new group of children.
11.30 Free time
This is a good chance for the kids to spend some time getting to know other people in their cabin. It is also a good time to write letters home and read. Many camps may expect you to be in your cabin at this time as it is a great chance for you to get to know the campers you're working with. You can become a role model for how you expect the children to behave. Take this chance to write your own letters home, while keeping a subtle eye on the dynamics of the children in the cabin.
Already?! More food...and possibly singing! Food... singing... food... singing!
13.00 Rest Hour
It will soon become apparent to you that rest hour is among the greatest ideas established at summer camp! The combination of the early start, the hectic morning and the belly full of food may put you in the mood for an afternoon rest. Again, set examples early. If you want co-operative campers during the afternoon sessions then it's key to ensure they settle down during rest hour.
14.20 Third Activity Period
Rest hour over…back to activities! Activity specialists are back to teaching in their activity areas.
15.30 Fourth Activity Period
Another activity session following the same format.
16.40 End of Fourth Activity Period
Some camps may hold an all-camp activity or have another free-time period. Some camps even schedule one or two more activity periods with some rest time shortly before dinner.
You guessed it…more food and more singing! You'll quickly come to realise that campers need just three things to have an amazing time, fun activities, food and an opportunity to sing! It's a good job camp has an abundance of each!
19.15 Evening activity
Evening activities are great fun and a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. Campers and counselors alike can integrate with people from other cabins and age groups. Evening activities range from themed dances, all-camp competitions, campfires, and talent shows... the list goes on and on!
20.30 Evening Wind-down/Free Time
Camps may serve an evening snack and then will either allow the campers to interact in a communal space with other cabins or will have the campers stay in their cabin for you to lead a review of the day and to catch up as a group.
21.00 Quiet time/Prep for bed
Time to get settled, brush teeth and get your pyjamas on.
21.30 On Duty Time
This is a good time to read, write home and generally relax and wind down. You'll be 'on duty' either outside your cabin or at a specific location around camp to ensure campers are settling down, ready for bed.
22.00 Lights out
Time to Sleep!
22.15 Free Time (Staff not on duty)
If you are not on duty, you will be free to leave your cabin and spend time with counselors at the staff lounge or other designated staff-only area. The restrictions and rules for after lights out will vary from camp to camp. You may be allowed to leave camp, but are likely to have a curfew.