Harry worked at a camp in upstate New York during the summer of 2018, as a paintball instructor. Read on for s’mores, talent shows and the necessity of packing many, many pairs of socks!
Why did you decide to work at camp?
As much as I love playing video games all summer, I thought it was time that I got out the house, and what better way than visiting the beautiful country of America.
What did you do at camp? What did your position entail?
Although my primary position was a paintball instructor, you are always playing the role of a general counsellor. My main role was to maintain the paintball equipment and ensure that the maps were clear of major hazards, such as weak trees or insect/snake nests. Secondary to that was running Camp Outs with the Outback staff, where I would help cook and distribute the hotdogs and smores and smoreos…. yeah a lot of food!
When not doing any of those, I was expected to be a cabin counsellor, and hang out with the campers. During this time, you take part in the activities that the campers take part in, as well as organise events to keep them entertained, such as during rainy days or evening activities (A lot of ping pong tournaments were held)
Favourite camp food?
Bu bu bu bu bacon, bu bu bu bacon, bu bu bu bu bacon, BACON SIZZLE
Favourite camp song?
Eagles Fly, Horses gallop by, and my dreams and goals are high. I wanna be where my spirit is free CAMP ECHO CALLS TO ME!
Favourite bunk activity?
Summer Reading with Harry. Getting 15 year olds to read goosebumps in the summer sun is more fun that you would think, especially when you let them do their own voices!
Favourite evening activity?
Too many to say specifically which ones I loved the most…… It’s stuck between the Staff Talent Shows and Upper Camp Evening Colour Wars
Favourite special event?
Did you learn any new skills at camp?
Climbing a tree (kind of got over my fear of heights. Still not good with them, but better now). Fire building (Camp Echo Bear Grylls right here!)
One thing you couldn’t live without at camp?
The friends you make. Also Bug Spray. And Sunscreen….. oh wait one thing? Say it really fast, then it sounds like one thing… right??
What to pack…
You can never have enough bug spray and sunscreen!! Underwear and shorts are a must (Make sure they are appropriate though!), along with socks. Lots of socks (they go missing). You don’t need 100 tops either, just bring 3 tops that you really like, and then 6 which you can live without (camp is a messy place!)
What to not pack…
Go through everything you packed and just think “Do I really need that”. Do that several times and you’ll soon find quite a lot you are bringing is just dead weight. Technically you just need 2 pairs of shoes, one of which you can wear on the plane. Despite all these new strangers you are going to meet at camp, there is no need to dress to impress. You will have some mornings where everyone looks dead on the outside from those late nights during Colour Wars (College and Olympic week for Camp Echo) and on the days off, people are so used to seeing you in camp attire that you can easily get away with that old top you had for painting or football and your usual pair of shorts.
Wild Packs process tips- any hints and tips to make the process of applying to going to camp run smoothly?
Do everything you can as soon as you can. Don’t leave it a week, the second you can do it, you get your head down and do it. When heading to the embassy, bring everything, and same with getting to the airport. Just bring it all!
Favourite way to spend your days off?
Resting! I cannot emphasise this enough. When it’s your day off, head out and have fun, but for the love of your body and sanity, just get those naps in! It’s always good to spend the morning’s doing something, like white water rafting, climbing, shopping or heading to parks, then spending the afternoon or evening at a park or something similar. Some of my favourite memories have been at a lake just chilling on the beach or under some trees eating random snacks and chatting about home life or future plans with friends!
Top travel destination?
Washington D.C. It’s a beautiful city with much to do. Accommodation is very cheap if you aren’t afraid of a little walk. Not much of a night life and you can do everything within 3 days, so keep that in mind!! Also Miami if you want a relaxing few days on the beach side in the summer sun (unless the storms roll in…. still had fun in the rain though!!)
Top travel tip (transportation, where to stay etc)?
Suck it up and use a coach if you can. The horror stories of sitting next to some stranger on a bus don’t apply to every coach! And you can save hundreds of dollars if you are travelling for a few weeks after camp!. If you are travelling with friends, check AirBnB before hotels. If enough people chip in, you can get a studio for barely a few bucks a night. Just get used to sleeping on the floor. Another benefit of an AirBnB is you can cook your own meals instead of ordering takeout every night.
If I knew then what I know now…
My suitcase would be lighter, I would have travelled for longer, and I would be richer.
Hardest challenge at camp?
Remembering that camp isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. You can start the camp off filled with energy, but don’t be fooled. You use a lot of energy in a small amount of time and it can wreck you! Take it easy and remember that if you are tired, you can make mistakes.
What surprised you about camp?
The amount of friends you can make in 2 months. You can go there without any friends and come back with a family. Camp is filled with people who can spread so much love it’s unreal. I was never good at making friends, but I’ve left camp with a new family.
Main highlight from the summer?
Olympics Firebuild. Breaking the camp record, being called Bear Grylls, the whole camp cheering my name while I helped the other team finish their rope burn and water boil. The sense of accomplishment while I helped my campers start their water boil fires and seeing their smiles light up like the flames they just built. The 10th graders laughing with me as we start shouting “Easy Sticks” or “Mid Burners” so we could pretend we knew what we were doing. The smiles everyone had on their faces when the rope burned through.
To be honest, those smiles are all around you every single day. By the end of the summer, your cheeks are toned!!