You'll hear it time and again; every camp is different. However, the majority of camps will follow similar schedules which we've outlined below:
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.
Many camps have a group flag raising each morning 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.
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.
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. Camp may run an inspection (possibly with prizes) each day. Everyone loves prizes. Who doesn't love a good prize, eh?
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.
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.
This is a good chance for the kids to spend some time getting to know other people in their cabin. 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.
Already? More food...and likely singing Food...singing...food...singing. That's lunch time.
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.
Rest hour over and back to activities. Activity specialists are back to teaching in their activity areas.
Another activity session following the same format.
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.
Evening activities are great fun and a an 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.
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.
Time to get get the campers settled, brushing their teeth and their pyjamas on.
This is a good time to chill out and enjoy the evenings on the porch, while ensuring that the campers are settled. 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.
Time to Sleep. And you're gonna need it.
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.