All the reasons why working in an American camp is the best way to spend your summer
From someone who knows first-hand
For a university student, summer is a long time. Four months with nothing to do, it doesn’t take long for boredom to kick in. Take these summers as an opportunity – when are you going to have four months totally to yourself ever again in your adult life?
You could get a summer job back home, or you could jump on a plane and make some memories (and money whilst you’re at it).
Here is why you should work at an American summer camp, from my own incredible experience.
It's a whole summer being paid to do what you love
At the camp I worked at, the activities seemed endless. Archery, swimming, sailing, sports, tennis, arts and crafts, drama just to name a few. My love lies at the stables, and I spent my summer as a riding counsellor.
The initial reason I signed up was so that I could spend my summer doing what I love – and get paid for it! Work doesn’t really feel like work. And by the end of the summer I was a better rider than I had been at the beginning.
You don’t need to be an expert
You will be teaching kids, for me it was between the ages of eight and 15. They want to try whatever sport you are offering, potentially one that they have never tried before. Whilst lifeguarding qualifications are understandably necessary for water-based activities, the main requirement is that you are bubbly and enthusiastic. It isn’t so much about whether the kids get it exactly right, more whether they have a good time.
You meet friends for life
Your colleagues are also your friends, the people you hang out with in your time off, and your support system. I found some of the funniest, most inspiring, and most loving people I have ever met. You will never lose contact with the people you meet, and reunions are always a must. The memories you make and the bonds you form will never leave you.
The kids are amazing
I have never considered myself a “kid person”, so this aspect of camp life was quite daunting to me. I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to talk about with them, or that they just wouldn’t like me. But all of that was swept away when I met them.
They had me in stitches most of the time. They were all just so excited to be at camp. My campers were a group of girls who looked up to me and wanted me to like them just as much as I wanted them to like me. They loved my accent and would spend hours begging me to say more “British words”. Their favourites included dungarees, welly boots and swimming cozzy. I overheard one tell her campmate: “I know Caitlin is like really old, but I think she’s adorable”.
The fourth of July is as mad as you think
I had never experienced the Fourth of July before, much to the amazement of my campers. But the whole day was the best fun I have ever had – I felt like a kid again. It was sugar-fuelled and game packed, with a special feast of southern fried chicken and mac’n’cheese to finish. An amazing experience, and we all slept like babies that night.
You will have the most instagrammable summer out of all of your friends
It is no secret that the United States are home to some of the most stunning views you will ever see. My Instagram feed reaped the rewards of my summer, with the most picturesque scenes I could ever imagine.
From the most beautiful shots of the serenity of an early morning lake, to galloping around huge fields, jumping off rocks into the cool sea, and outrageously large pizzas, my adventures were documented every step of the way, and no other snapchat story could make me feel as though I were missing out.
You can explore America with the money you make
The J1 visa allows you a 30-day travel period after you have completed your work contract, so you are free to explore America afterwards. Not only will you have worked all summer, you will also have travelled.
After you have made up the cost of getting there with your earnings, the rest of the money is yours to explore and have fun with. And you also have a new group of friends to travel with!
It is so easy to get out there
With the ever-growing popularity amongst students to spend a summer this way, companies and organisations are available to get you out there. I went with an organisation called WildPacks who helped me every step of the way. From matching me with a camp, to helping me get the cheapest flights as well as my visa, medical insurance, and any other documents I needed. And you earn back all of the money you spend (and a bit more) whilst you work out there.
My summer in America was the best of my life. I can honestly say that, for a student, it is one of the best ways to spend those long months. You’ll be bombarded with questions when you get home, comments about how fantastic it all looked. Whatever happens, wherever in that vast land you end up, you will never ever regret it. That’s camp magic.
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