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Summer camp and cultural exchange

Recruitment coordinator Paddy explores the cultural exchange element of working at a summer camp in the USA and why immersing yourself in the American culture is such a key part of your summer camp adventure!

My camp has a tradition where in our dining hall we hangs the flags from every country that has ever been represented at camp by a counsellor or camper, the current count is somewhere over 60, it’s a nice reminder for me that while camp is my second home, it’s also second home to many other people from around the world, a lot of whom I’m lucky to count as friends.

There are lots of ways to exchange cultures at camp, have a think about your favourite sports, foods, dances or songs from home. Talk with other staff from your country and figure out ways to introduce the campers to your country and its culture. This year at my camp we had an English Tea Party, a Crepe class, a Gaelic Football match, Salsa dancing, South African dishes in Culinary Arts classes and a whole host of new campfire songs, chants and dances from around the world.

A huge part of the camp experience for you, your fellow staff and the campers is learning about each other’s cultures. From the different accents you’ll hear as you wander around camp, to sharing stories about life in your home country growing up and discovering the close similarities and huge differences, to trying to learn a phrase in a new language (this year I failed at this so hard it brought my South African colleague to tears with laughter). Remember too, that an exchange goes both ways, for every song, dance and recipe you bring you will take the American equivalent- thrift shopping at Goodwill, a hot dog at a baseball game, 4th July celebrations, visiting iconic cities or locations with your camp friends- Yellowstone, NYC, the Hollywood sign. These moments will bring you closer to people at camp.

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