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Camp Counsellor (Lakes and Pool Specialist)
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I decided to do a summer placement to gain both life and work experience and become more confident as a person through working abroad. Despite the fun nature of the placement, it was also an opportunity to gain a variety of new and transferrable skills that will be beneficial for future job applications and my CV.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Organisation website

Application process

The application process through Camp America began by creating a profile, that included information about myself, my skills, background and attributes as well as photographs and a video. From this an interview was arranged with a representative to determine whether I was suitable for the program. Further stages entailed, including applying for a DBS, and obtaining 2 references, to enable my profile to be sent to camps all over the U.S. I then got contacted by a camp in California and had two Skype interviews with the assistant director and director. After being placed, there is a lot of paperwork to be filled in for the camp and your job role and other documents including obtaining a J1 visa, medical insurance and flights.

Main responsibilities

My role entailed the general care and supervision of the children at camp, especially those participating in the activities I was instructing and those in the bunk I counselled, and ensuring that they were having an enjoyable time.

Typical day

Days varied considerably, especially when I was taking out of camp trips, such as hiking overnights or white-water rafting, or when a new session of campers arrived, when we would be greeting and giving tours of camp and getting to know the new campers and our new bunks (I had 4 different bunks of 6-7 girls throughout the season; split by age groups from 10-17), but generally other days were very scheduled. Wake- up occurred at 7.20am for breakfast at 8am. Morning chores and sign ups for the following day’s activities, would begin at 8.30 and finish at 9.15am. There were 4 periods in a day, lasting 1.5 hours, starting at 9.15am and finishing at 5pm. Lunch time was at 12.15-1pm and rest hour from 1-2pm. At 5-6.15pm there was “Have at it” time where campers had to be outside their bunks in the common areas, taking part in any activity they wished- I would be scheduled to supervise (and join in) an activity such as volleyball or ping-pong. Following this period was dinner and then evening program begun at 7.30pm, involving campfire shows or camp-wide games. Evening program finished by 9 and lights out in the bunk occurred at 9.45pm. Councillors had free time until 11.45pm after their bunk was asleep.
I was primarily on the lakes and pools team, taking groups on trips to various lakes to paddle-board, kayak, rock jump and visit/ climb waterfalls or lifeguarding during pool parties, water polo or general sessions. However I also took other activities during other periods including outdoor cooking, firebuilding, arts and crafts, archery and zumba/dance.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I enjoyed taking and instructing activities that I love and getting to learn some new skills and take part in sports I have never done before including firebuilding and white water rafting! I also enjoyed getting to know the campers and seeing that they were having fun because of the activities we were taking. Although camp life was such a bubble, (it was an unplugged wilderness camp- so tents and no lights/electricity for most buildings), the camp atmosphere, being in another country and experiencing lifestyle differences was also interesting as was meeting and working with new people from all around the world.

Challenging aspects

No doubt there were plenty of amazing times at camp, but what I found challenging was being constantly tired, with days about 14 hours long and being pretty much active throughout the whole day. The camp I worked at was open for 10 weeks of the summer, split into 2 week sessions, so gaining an almost entirely new load of children fortnightly was hard to keep up the constant energy and loud “camp spirit” towards the end! Although I encountered very little problems with campers, there were some including arguments between friends, homesickness and boy-girl issues, dealing with these problems were sometimes difficult, especially as no training really prepares you for certain situations.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

The job was not relevant to my course as such, but there were many transferable skills that I used during the summer that I gained/developed from University life, such as the ability to work well with others, being hard working and improving on organisational, leadership and management skills.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I know that generally I enjoy working with children and seeing progression from my teaching in certain skills is very rewarding. I am still unsure, however, whether I would pursue this line as a profession. But the overall experience has given me confidence that I can work abroad successfully and hopefully will do again in the near future.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

I would definitely recommend the program, it was a fantastic job and summer abroad, however it is hard, working with children and for long hours, patience is very much required! I would also say that the placement is more about the life experience- you would really need to enjoy working with children and playing/teaching a certain activity or sport, with less emphasis on earning money.

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Form completed: 08 Sep 2017

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