Jennifer worked as a general counsellor at a summer camp in New York during summer 2019. Read on for packing and travel tips, Color Wars and S’mores!
Why did you decide to work at camp?
I decided to work at camp because my Mum did it when she younger and she always says it was one of the best experiences of her life. She has encouraged me to spend a summer in the states since I turned 18 (I’m now 20) and now the only question I ask myself is why didn’t I go out 2 years ago?
What did you do at camp? What did your position entail?
I was a general counsellor for girls aged 8-9. My job role entailed looking after the girls all day long, making sure they got out of bed on time, went to sleep at a decent time, took them to all of their activities, meal times and joining in at all the activities.
Favourite camp food?
Definitely grilled cheese or pizza Friday, bit of comfort food that reminds you of home always makes you day!
Favourite camp song?
Either Cotton Eyed Joe or The Summer Is Magic. My camp had a dance routine to Cotton Eyed Joe and whenever it was played everyone stopped what they were doing and gave it their all. My camp friends and I still continue this tradition on when we meet up for reunions!
Favourite bunk activity?
This was either jacks or bunk talent shows during thunder storms. Bunk chill was always a favourite activity as this is when I really bonded with my kids and memories were made, we would paint nails, do each other’s hair and have dance parties!
Favourite evening activity?
A campfire 100%. We would all sit round and sing songs, tell jokes and make s’mores – the best night time snack! A close second to this would be karaoke/movie nights
Favourite special event?
We had an event called Girls Sing where our group of girls would prepare a couple songs about their camp experience and we would sing it in front of the whole camp. This was a really special moment at camp as it made me realise that the friends and experiences that I had created at camp were once in a lifetime and it was just a lovely night to reflect on the summer as a whole
Did you learn any new skills at camp?
I learned how to get ready in 15 minutes in the morning, how to deal with my own confidence and how to more patient. Oh and how to start a camp fire!
One thing you couldn’t live without at camp?
An insulated water bottle that keeps your water cold! This thing was attached to my hip 24/7! I didn’t go anywhere without it! This was amazing for the roasting hot days!
What to pack…
Lots and lots of socks, these things disappeared all the time! Try and not over pack because it is only weighs you down for when you are going travelling after. Definitely lots of t-shirts and cotton shorts as these are what I lived in the full summer! I also bought a battery powered fan that attached to my bed over there on one of my days off – this was such a worthwhile purchase!
What to not pack…
My camp sent me a packing list so I had an idea of what I needed and didn’t. I would avoid taking new shoes/new clothes because all of my clothes and shoes were wrecked at the end of camp. So just pack some clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting ruined.
Wild Packs process tips- any hints and tips to make the process of applying to going to camp run smoothly?
I would advise getting all your forms in as soon as you can, as this will speed up the process for you being allocated a camp and the visa process (which isn’t that bad at all).
Favourite way to spend your days off?
I was in a really remote town in upstate New York so my days off were mostly spent in the nearest town to where the camp was. Me and my friends would either go out for dinner, go to Walmart, bowling, skinners falls (a local river) or a hotel resort that was nearby.
Top travel destination?
Definitely California, I stayed in San Francisco and then LA. Both of these destinations were on my bucket list of places to go and I am still in denial that I was actually there. These 2 cities were amazing and had so much to see and do!
Top travel tip (transportation, where to stay etc)?
I would advise looking for flights on comparison websites and booking hostels. Hostels aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they are. If you have enough people to fill a room, then it’s just like staying in a hotel (and the majority of them serve free breakfast in the morning). When you get a new city, try and figure out the public transport service as this is the cheapest and most effective way of getting around, plus it could help you come across some parts of a city you never knew existed!
If I knew then what I know now…
If I had known 2 years ago that I was going to have one of the best experiences of my life, this I so would have applied a lot sooner. So if you’ve just turned 18 and are considering it, PLEASE GO FOR IT! You will not regret it at all!
Hardest challenge at camp?
Dealing with homesickness. Personally this was hard for me in the first few weeks of camp as it took me a while to adjust to the routine and get into the swing of things and dealing with the time difference of family and friends back home. But once I fully settled in I had the time of my life and didn’t want to leave L
What surprised you about camp?
The amount of activities my camp had, there was always something to do and I was never bored. From the normal activities during the day to the variety of evening activities we had. There was always something exciting on offer for the kids and counsellors.
Main highlight from the summer?
At the end of the summer, my camp had an event called Colour War. This is when the camp was split into 2 teams and we had to compete in a variety of different activities to win points for our team. It was an amazing ending that topped off the summer.