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Camp Counselor Spotlight: Georgia

Georgia worked as a ropes counselor a day camp in New York state. Wild Packs work with a number of day camps and we believe that Georgia’s account of her summer will be really useful for our applicants who work at a day camp in 2020! Read on for Tater tots, Carnivals and hanging out in the treetops during the day…

Why did you decide to work at camp?

Having just completed my first year at university and living away from home the prospect of having to move back in with my parents for 4 months was not one I wanted to think about. So, I decided to look into summer jobs when Wild Packs popped up on my searches. It was something I had never thought about but after reading the testimonies of previous Wild Packers I was instantly intrigued by the idea. So I definitely applied in the spur of the moment, but it was for sure the best decision I have ever made.

What did you do at camp? What did your position entail?

I was hired by a day camp in New York state as a Climbing Tower Specialist. My job entailed working with kids from 7-15 teaching them to climb the climbing walls, working on the zipline across the lake and encouraging them to try the different levels of walls we had at camp. As my camp was a day camp I was also a bus counselor, which involved me picking the kids up and dropping them off door to door in the Upper East side of New York City every day.

Favourite camp food?

TATER TOTS, they are for sure the best thing to come out of the United States. They were a treat when they were served at camp, but when they were it for sure made my day 100 times better and the kids loved them too.

Favourite camp song?

I cannot choose just one, my camp had its own gathering song at which we would play on the buses as we pulled into camp every morning, which all the kids loved. But for sure the most fun song was the Wakka Wakka, which the whole camp including staff and kids were taught a dance for and it was  the most entertaining thing when everyone would just have a big old dance together.

Favourite bunk activity ?

I did not work in a sleep away so we didn’t sleep in bunks with our kids as they went home but me and my fellow girl staff internationals used to have a lot of fun together and at night would go around and say what our favourite part of the day was which was always a lovely experience.

Favourite evening activity?

Even though we did not have the children at night we did some fun activity’s, we did campfires with S’mores, definitely the most American experience I had when I was over there. We had a sing along and dance party in the dining hall and playing group hide and seek around camp always proved a very competitive game.

Favourite special event?

Carnival was for sure my favourite special event. The whole camp was turned into a big carnival, with music, bouncy houses, traditional carnival games, and the best part which was the face paint and glitter.  The kids were all so happy and excited and we got to run around with them all afternoon and it was just an amazing fun filled day.

Did you learn any new skills at camp?

How to be patient. My camp worked with kids from 3-15 you really do learn how the kids work. You can’t push or expect something to happen as soon as you ask and it is for sure a skill that I have used since being back in the UK. Getting up at 5 and being up and out the door by 5:30. You learn to work long days and also learn that looking good will last the first day and then you will stop caring very quickly and get immersed in camp life.

One thing you couldn’t live without at camp?

Water bottle and shorts, being part of a sports staff, we had buddy checks to make sure that our bottles were always filled. But water is for sure the most important part of your day at camp. Shorts will be your best friend, especially sports shorts, I brought 14 pairs and still had to go and buy more you will never have them off as it’s so hot even when it rains.

What to pack…

I loved my flag now this is not essential but being Scottish in a room full of different nationalities, it really felt like home just seeing the flag sometimes and also for this some pictures of friends, family or pets. Underwear is a huge one, I am positive that there was a sock fairy who kept stealing my socks. As said previously lots of shorts especially sports shorts, and trainers that you don’t mind getting muddy or dirty as they will for sure get mucky during camp.

What to not pack…

For sure take some nice outfits but don’t over think it, maybe 2-3 outfits at the maximum as it will take up too much space in your suitcase. Also, toiletries, only bring small versions as no doubt your camp will run you past some sort of store that will sell shampoo and conditioner for cheaper and it will save space in your suitcase.

Wild Packs process tips- any hints and tips to make the process of applying to going to camp run smoothly?

Wild Packs are a fantastic help so make sure you phone or email if you had any questions no matter how big or small even just to settle your worries. Just make sure all your records and paperwork are sent in a quick as possible it just makes the whole process easier and quicker. Try and print everything and have a paper copy in  a folder as this helps at immigration on the US side and also keeps you in check if it is all neat and it one folder keeping everything together.

Favourite way to spend your days off?

My camp was in an amazing location in New York state, we were an hour drive from NYC so we had a few days there during 4th of July. We had a mall a 20 minute drive away with a cheesecake factory. The camp backed on to a state park, so walks around the park and lake were always amazing days out.

Top travel destination?

New York City for sure. As much as I was there every day it never got old. The City was never the same, and if you’re like me and watched a lot of chick flicks finding all the Gossip Girl spots was exciting. I would recommend the visit to anyone and I crossed a lot of things off my bucket list while I was there like seeing the Statue of Liberty.

Top travel tip (transportation, where to stay etc)?

Hostels are a traveller’s best friend. There are some really good websites for these. Just make sure and read reviews it can put you more at ease of where you are staying. Public transport is amazing especially tubes and trains and if it is available Uber is a great and quick service to use to get yourself around.

If I knew then what I know now…

Not to be so worried about everything, I was worried I had picked the wrong camp as I had 3 offered at the time, if you feel its right trust me its right, the traveling to the Sates was so easy and I wish I hadn’t of worried so much about the immigration. Do not think you’re going to regret this because it will be the most incredible experience of your life.

Hardest challenge at camp?

Lack of sleep and little connection to home. I had to get into a routine very quickly at camp, we were working very long days on not so much sleep and it was something I struggles with for the first few weeks but it eventually gets easier. And homesickness, It’s something that did not affect me till a lot later than others but when it hit it hit hard. Facetime is a fantastic thing if you have it use it whenever you can, as well as make sure if you have internet and photos back and forward from home and postcards are also a lot of fun we could get post at camp so I sent post cards home.

What surprised you about camp?

How many friends you make, camp becomes like your second extended family. I have made forever friends and will be meeting up with them again soon. The kids become such a part of your life, you learn so much about them, their lives, and their experiences. You become someone these kids trust and respect and you grow a connection together which is a magical experience I never thought I would have.

Main highlight from the summer?

My main highlight from the summer was for sure the last day of camp. Everyone in the same tops as  we burn away the year and our camp director tells a poem all about camp. It wasn’t really until this point, I realised how much camp and these people meant to me as it was going to be over so soon, everyone crying and upset. These children I had made close bonds with making me promise to come back and see them next year. At the end of the day all the buses pulled out of the bus yard with the kids and all the staff chanted the camp chant. As much as it was a sad day the love felt in those couple of hours is still with me months later.

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