Have you ever thought about going to Camp America?
This month guest blogger Suzie will be giving you the low down on cultural exchange programme Camp America. She has provided you with her top tips for applying for Camp America, planning for your summer in the USA, and she gives a real insight in to what the experience might provide you. Suzie is an avid fan of Camp America, and she has been going back four years running! She loves camp, the US, travel, and everything else that comes with it. So, if you are thinking about applying, keep reading…
WHAT IS CAMP AMERICA?
Camp America is a cultural exchange programme that gives you the chance to spend your summer living and working on a summer camp in the USA. They support you from start to finish to make sure you have the experience of a lifetime!
WHY GO AND IS IT FOR YOU?
– You want to work with children or teens
– You are adventurous in the outdoors
– You have waterfront skills
– You have a creative mind
– You want to help your campers grow
– You love to travel
– You want new experiences
– You want to be completely out of your comfort zone
– You want to learn new cultures and religions
– You want to meet people from all over the world (From camp I have close friends from NZ, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and all over the USA)
– You want to learn a new skill (I am trained in Red Cross US lifeguarding, first aid, canoe instructor and summer 2016 I will do a course to become a lifeguard instructor)
– You want to meet lifelong friends (My camp friends are my best friends)
– You want to improve your CV
– You want to broaden your life experiences
– You are good at planning programs
ABOUT NJY CAMPS
I have worked at New Jersey Y Camps (NJY) for the past four years and will be returning for my fifth summer in May 2016. NJY Camps is a Jewish summer camp in America and with my bias opinion the best camp ever!
It is a non-profit camp situated in a tiny town called Milford in the state of Pennsylvania. NJY camps consist of eight sleep-away camps to cater to all ages, abilities and needs. Within these eight camps there are 1200 campers and 500 staff members, with 300 staff who are internationals, just like me.
CEDAR LAKE CAMP
Cedar Lake Camp is for children aged 11 – 14 years of age. This camp has over 75 activities and programs for children to take part in on a daily basis. It has over 600 campers and 200 staff members. I worked at CLC for 3 summers from 2012 – 2014 as a general counselor, lifeguard and canoe instructor, and I bunked with the Golan girls which were aged 13-14.
In CLC the role is to be a general counselor who will be living, eating, looking after your campers along with four or five other counselors and then working in a certain area for the day, for instance I worked at the lake as a lifeguard and canoe instructor.
During meals you sit with your campers and have one big family meal. You cheer and chant to get your food, you compete in a friendly manner in chants against the other ages to get your food first and you sing songs at the end of the meal sometimes to keep you in that camp spirit.
CLC has amazing staff members who are chosen from applications from all over the USA and all around the world.
TEEN CAMP – TAC
Teen camp (TAC) is a camp which provides teenagers in a summer program for them to travel, part take in community support, leadership training and grow as individuals. In TAC the camper’s voices are always heard as these campers are mature enough and have great ideas to help make important decisions to improve the way teen camp runs.
In TAC campers get to experience a sense of travelling, and this is certainly one of the biggest highlights for the campers. In 2015 we went to Costa Rica for 5 days, LA & San Diego for 5 days and I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Washington, D.C for 2 days. During these trips the campers take part in some kind of community service such as packing food for the homeless this year in LA.
This summer we are off to Montreal, Canada and San Francisco and I could not be more excited for this.
TOP TIPS FOR CAMP
– Filling out your Camp America application will make you angry, frustrated and will be the longest part of the entire process but eventually it will be worth it so stick to it and stay determined.
– Have a folder to keep all your camp paperwork safe.
– Try not to leave all of your paper work until the last minute and whatever you do DON’T FORGET IT!
– Your Instagram posts will be spot on after camp & full of amazing pictures that make everyone jealous.
– Experience 4th July in USA is pretty special.
– You can dress up in fancy dress whenever you feel like it, just for fun or just for no reason wear a onesie to dinner one night.
– If you have a bucket list, then going to camp should enable you to tick plenty of amazing things off it.
– If you don’t have a bucket list, then make one right now!
TIPS FOR PACKING FOR SUMMER CAMP
Obviously pack your regular clothing, toiletries and others, but there are also bits and bobs that you might not consider taking. Below I have listed the things I would recommend…
1 Rain boots… You will live in these at camp
2 Plenty of sunglasses – you’ll probably lose some
3 Raincoat – it does rain out there!
4 Warm clothes for the evenings – it gets chilly!
5 Plenty of swim suits
6 Laundry bag – you don’t know when you will next wash clothes
7 Photos to put up for yourself & they spark conversations
8 Good ol’ English tea bags – American versions just aren’t the same
9 Chocolate from your home country – you will miss it!
10 Spray deodorant – it’s hard to get in the states
11 Your cuddly bear… – or something that reminds you of home!
WHAT ABOUT DAYS OFF?
– The famous Walmart trips
– Go to a bar
– Get some good American food
– Go to the movies
– Do your laundry
– Tubing down a river
– Theme/Water parks
– Day out in New York or Philadelphia
– Stay at an American friend’s house
– Hang out on the camp premises with friends & drink tea
– Relax & get an early night because trust me sometimes you’ll need it!
HOW TO APPLY
If you fancy camp, then check it out and apply at: https://www.campamerica.co.uk/
On this website you can find information about costs, flights, placements, medical insurance, references you will need and how to get started with your application.
If you’d like to ask Suzie any other questions about Camp America, please comment below or get in touch!
Photos sourced from Suzie’s personal collection and the Camp America website.
Sophie is a blogger and freelance writer based in the UK. She writes about all things travel on her blog over at Sophie’s Suitcase and in her spare time writes for Huffington Post, Elite Daily and The Culture Trip. You can also find her on social media; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.