You'll hear it time and again; every USA summer camp is different. However, the majority of camps will follow similar schedules which we've outlined below. As you can see, the hours are long and the work is tough, but as everyone's favourite Irish 90s boyband, Boyzone once said: "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." (Stop pretending you're too cool to know the words.)
You'll start the morning early - likely around 8am - with the sound of a bell, bugle or other morning wakeup. You'll help your campers get ready and before you head to breakfast. Some camps have a group flag raising each morning before breakfast and will recite the American ‘Pledge of Allegiance’. You'll probably bumble your way through it at first, but you'll be saying it in your sleep after a week or so. As you probably know, Americans really love America, so this is a big part of the day.
For breakfast you will find sweet and savoury, crunchy and sloppy, toasted and chilled. There's every kind of food available and many of it will be a little strange; waffles, syrup and sausages? America, you crazy cat. Many camps will have songs, graces or breakfast chants to get the kids excited for the day ahead. After breakfast you'll likely spend 30 minutes cleaning up your cabin and getting ready for the day before heading to activities. If you're a cabin specialist you will take the campers to their scheduled activities (you'll often get to join in.) If you're an activity specialist you will spend the morning teaching the campers. If there is a period when you aren't leading your activity then you will be able to join back up with your group at an activity to help out.
After morning activities you'll head to lunch, where you will once again have a feast of food to keep you going strong for the day. After lunch there will likely be an hour of rest. It will soon become apparent to you that rest hour is among the greatest ever ideas established at summer camp. The combination of the early start, morning activities and a belly full of food will make you grateful for some chill time back at your bunk. After rest hour it's back to activities and afternoon games.
It's food again...then onto evening activity. Evening activities are great fun and an opportunity for you to spend time with everyone else on camp. Campers and counselors alike can integrate with people from other cabins and age groups. Evening activities range from themed dances, all-camp competitions, campfires, talent shows and sometimes off camp trips (bowling, lazer tag, cinema). The list goes on and on. From here the campers will get ready for bed before the counselors go on duty. You'll be 'on duty' either outside your cabin or at a specific location around camp to ensure campers are settling down and getting ready for bed. Once the campers are asleep, the counselors not on duty will have free time to hang out either on or off camp or go back to the bunk.