by Georgette Humbert (current final-year student)
I had seen people do Camp America in the past and was always in awe of the endless photos on Facebook and Instagram, but it never seemed as though it would be something I could feasibly do. As part of a year two module, we had to go to the employment fair which is where I discovered a company called Camp Leaders. If anyone told me they were considering the whole camp counsellor experience, I would always recommend Camp Leaders. They make the whole process considerably less stressful as they do pretty much everything for you. They can organise your flights and also offer you the option to pay in instalments (which is great for our Uni student budget).
If I were to make any kind of disclaimer, my experience taught me that Camp America is NOT a holiday. Being a camp counsellor means working extremely hard on very little sleep. However, having young girls look at me not only as their counsellor but their mentor and someone they can feel safe around was extremely rewarding for me.
I was working as a swimming instructor at a camp called Waukeela Camp for Girls in New Hampshire. This particular camp was small in comparison to others and was extremely traditional as it was founded in 1922. The camp was beneath pine trees, with old wooden cabins and singing from 8am until 9pm which would resonate throughout the forest- parent trap eat your heart out. My day would start at 7am, you slept in the same cabin as your campers so it was your responsibility to make sure they showered and were at breakfast for 8am. Breakfast consisted of incredibly loud singing and mostly sugary fruit loops, even cake some mornings- the camp diet is not for health enthusiasts. This would be followed by flag raising where you would pledge your allegiance to the United States of America and to the earth. As a swimming instructor I would be working on the lake pretty much all day every day after having completed a Lifeguarding course and water safety instruction qualification (both of which are valid for two years after). Having a beautiful lake as my office, in the sun every day is definitely something I didn’t complain about.
My camp being an all girls’ camp which was founded in the 1920’s, meant very strong traditions, some even cult-ish in nature. There is no talk of negative self-body image, no talking about your personal life, no mobile phones and definitely no drinking. Albeit these rules sound rather extreme, there are incredible aspects of camp life, like hiking to the top of Mount Washington, white water rafting the Saco River and, of course, the travelling after.
The friends you make at camp mean being spoilt for choice by who’s house you stay at after. I stayed in the typical New England suburbs in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. After this I flew to California, visiting San Francisco, Yosemite national Park, Santa Cruz and other incredible places. I then ended my trip by flying back to New York for four days.
If you don’t know what to do with yourself in the huge four month summer we get, then being a camp counsellor is definitely something you should consider. If you want the less traditional camp experience I would advise going to a bigger, mixed sex camp. Or, if you like the idea of an all girls’ camp and really making strong friendships with not only all the staff, but the campers, then maybe a place like Waukeela is for you. Either way, its turns out to be a summer you’ll be talking about for years after or maybe even going back to.