We’ve noticed you might be viewing our website from a different location. Visit your regional site for more relevant information and pricing.

Am I Right for Summer Camp?

So you’ve watched Parent Trap (1998) one too many times and wish you’d have had the chance to attend summer camp as a kid BUT have you watched Beaver Falls (2011) and considered working at camp? Now that you’re thinking about it, are you sure you’re right for camp? Is camp right for you? Let’s see…

Author: Abbie J
07 Nov 14:30

An abundance of adventure-seeking guys and girls take on camp every summer and have those same fears before packing their bags, grabbing their passports and heading to the airport. Hopefully I can put an end to those worries and answer the questions you find your brain asking at 4am.

Never travelled alone? Or at all?

I understand the anxieties around such a thought but Camp Leaders provide ways to help ease the pain. Prior to your flight you can post on the Facebook page to find out if anyone is on the same flight as you/ going to the same camp as you. As well as this, you’ll most likely already be part of a Facebook chat organised by your camp in order for new and returning staff to introduce themselves to one another and ask any questions. My flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK was flooded with first time camp counsellors. After spilling water on me, I got talking to the girl sat next to me who happened to not only be going to the same camp as me but in the same department as me! I rocked up to camp knowing at least one friendly face but if you don’t, give it 5 seconds and you’ll be buddying up with people from around the globe. That brings me onto meeting new people.

For some, the thought of meeting a tonne of new people all in one go and playing those well known icebreakers, fills them with dread.

I completely feel you. No one cares that I’ve never broken a bone during two truths and a lie and I’m 100% sure they don’t need to know me as ‘Ambitious Abbie’ during the alliteration game, but that’s where it all begins. Ecstatic Elicia, Lovely Lucy and Giggly Georgie were not only my summer chums but are now my life-long best friends. So get to know the girl sat next to you, ask questions to those sat on your lunch table during staff orientation and laugh with your bunkmates because before you know it, you’ll be sobbing into your camp memorabilia on your flight home not knowing when you’ll see them next.

As for bunkmates - these are the ones you’ll be sharing your personal space with (sometimes more than you may be comfortable with). Whether you are in a bunk with both staff and kids or only with other counsellors, you’ll be getting to know these people on a whole new level. Shared facilities, communal showers and outdoor toilets are what camp is about. Soon enough you’ll be used to walking around in a towel and getting dressed under your blanket as that’s what you’ll all be doing. After leaving camp I honestly missed outdoor communal showers as I had no one to sing with, no one to fetch the towel I forgot and no one to make sure all my shampoo is washed out. The best way to adapt is to embrace it.

I might be good at making friends my age but will the kids like me?

YES, YES and YES. In fact, sometimes you’ll wish they didn’t because they will be clinging to you 24/7. The campers are absolutely besotted by the counsellors. You become their summer mums and dads that look after them night and day, the big brothers and sisters they go to with issues, and the friends they laugh with all day. International staff in particular strike an interest in them like no other. “Say water bottle”, “what are wellies?” and “it’s a trash can!” will be statements you’ll hear multiple times a day. The cultural differences and thrilling accents are just as exciting as blister day (A day spent at the pool when it’s too hot to do anything else). The campers live for camp - 10 for 2 as they say - and you are a big reason for that. The staff make camp what it is because without you they wouldn’t be able to enjoy all that camp has to offer. You should never worry about the kids not being fond of you as they’ll be pulling at your heartstrings in the lead up to their departure with teary eyes and sleepless nights due to the thought of having to send letters instead of seeing you in person.

However, it’s not just the kids that get teary eyes. There will be times when you miss home - naturally. So if you’re worried about homesickness then I regret to inform you that it is almost inevitable. You’re spending 8+ weeks away from home in a foreign environment. Of course you’ll have times where you miss your daily comforts. On the flip side, it is totally worth it. As much as I love new adventures and exploring new places, I’m a big home girl. I love my big family and leaving my three fur babies at home wasn’t easy. But camp becomes your new family and your new routine is far more exciting. Think of it this way - you’re missing home whilst having the best summer of your life but home is missing you whilst stuck in the same old environment. Who’s the real winner? You. The answer is you. If it helps, it won’t just be you. There will be days when you’re having your tears wiped away and days when you’re doing the wiping. So welcome the feeling because you’d be strange not to miss what you’re used to.

My final fear. Something that bothered me from the get go. 8+ weeks at camp. Am I sure I want to work my whole summer?

Stay in one place with the same people rather than travelling? Doesn’t sound very exciting. Oh how wrong I was. SO very wrong. Camp flies by, it literally flies. At times the days might feel long but the weeks are very short. That first day you arrive will be as fresh in your memory as your last. It still baffles me that I managed to experience all that I did as those 8+ weeks felt like they were over in the blink of an eye. As for travelling, there is no better way to understand a culture than living in it for yourself. I’m not saying 8 weeks is enough to understand America but you can definitely learn the ropes of camp and what it stands for. Plus, you can travel after so don’t fear the thought of staying in once place as working at camp on a J-1 VISA allows you up to 30 days of travel once you finish working. After my first summer I travelled with camp friends from NYC to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and visited Niagara Falls.

Before you set off you’re bound to question whether you’re right for camp. I am here to tell you that you are. Everyone that was once a child is right for camp. My one exception would be those who have an unimaginable fear of children. So maybe not everyone, but 9/10 of you are right for camp. Don’t let little fears sway your decision, just pack your bag, pick up that passport and make your way to the airport because you are about the experience the best summer of your life.

Abbie J
Abbie is a true 10 for 2 found in the art shack with paint in her hair and adventure plans at the ready.

Want new blog posts sent directly to your inbox?