Arriving into Boston late one Tuesday night in the midst of a freak rainstorm my summer in the USA was about to begin with this first bus journey to Portland, Maine, the pickup point for my camp. Apart from having a friend who is a returning counsellor in Michigan who had told me stories of how great camp can be, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to except from camp life.
After being picked up from the coach station and later rolling past the big wooden sign, past a dense gathering of trees and into camp, I got my first glimpse of the place I would be calling home for the next 2 months. Before I collapsed on my small metal bunk bed in a little wooden cabin from exhaustion after the long journey, I got to meet a few fellow counsellors and have dinner in the beautifully crafted Main Bunk, a structure that still stands after over 100 years. Now as I am writing this I have been at camp for just under 2 weeks so it’s about time I lay out my thoughts and and talk about what camp has been like so far. Here are my first impressions about camp life.
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You’ll get to a stage where you’ll wonder how you ever even functioned without a bugle dictating each point in your daily schedule. When to wake up, when to have breakfast and when it’s time for your bunk to turn off their lights and get into bed. I actually love the bugle, which may be kind of a weird thing to love, but it’s got a catchy little medley and I have come to associate it with food so intrinsically that would explain a lot.
Being Surrounded By Nature
My camp Is stunning! Unbelievably stunning! Walking to the beautiful lakefront everyday or down the winding pine path to activities makes you really appreciate the fact you get to spend your whole summer outside in such glorious surroundings. It’s also great for wildlife spotting. There are baby loons out on the lake, a porcupine that hangs out under bunk 6 and stubborn bat that keeps visiting the main bunk and getting stuck.
Being 'Socially On' All The Time
This one comes from something I only realised about myself earlier on this year, but man oh man when you are a socially awkward, slightly anxious human, it is hella hard to socialise with people ALL THE TIME. It’s hard being expected to be your best self and compete for attention with much more sociable people who make you crease up in uneasy wonderment how it is even possible to be that socially adept. Are they robots? Are they not just completely exhausted? This is something I’m getting better at, but having those introverted qualities means I find it incredibly easy to distance myself from a crowd and be on my own. I actually enjoy my own company and need it to recharge and process my thoughts, so It can be pretty difficult when doing that puts you at a determent in a social situation and leaves you behind a crowd who are forming close friendships. Being left out will only make the remaining time you have to spend at camp a much more lonely and difficult existence so I’ve learnt that however much you love your own company, try and force yourself to get our of your comfort zone and be sociable.
Lack Of Usual Freedom
Isn’t it just so easy to take for granted the fact you control your own bedtime, where you can go on your time off and what you eat day in day out. Well wave goodbye to these simple freedoms because at camp, life is pretty much scheduled for you. Obviously this is something that differs greatly from camp to camp, but the camp I work at is one that gives very full on schedules to its counsellors meaning you’re very limited in your free time. This is something that you can get used to pretty quickly, but the more you fight it and resist, the harder you will find it to cope. Having a full schedule is actually a pretty good thing. It means you’re never bored and your days are filled with fun and exciting activities.
Potential To Overeat
There is soooooo much food at camp it’s borderline ridiculous! There are three cooked meals a day and dessert readily available conveniently without you having to cook or prepare a thing. Having all this yummy food sat directly in front of you every meal time, and the slowish eating habits of the children, means it’s very easy for seconds to become fourths and fifths.
Putting Your Memory To The Test
Being at camp is a major memory testing exercise. Remembering all the names of the staff and children is only the tip of the iceberg. There are rules to games, times of the daily schedule, things you need to get done for your job role, camp traditions and all the camp songs (trust me, once you learn those camp songs you wont ever forget them).
How is it possible to go from a baking hot 30c one day to pouring down with a torrential rain storm and a chilly 15c the next? The weather can be hilariously unpredictable to the point all the staff have run out to stock up on hoodies and jumpers to dull the pain of cold nights trying to sleep in your bunk without freezing to death.
The Culture Shock Of America
Everything is so big- from the cars to the size of the supermarkets, a car is a necessity to even be able to live a vaguely normal existence and my British quirks have taken on a new level of hilarity (profusely apologising for everything). America is very different to home and adjusting can take a bit of time but embracing a new culture is also a hell load of fun.
A Summer Of Fun
I may have only been here for a short amount of time so far but seeing how much there is to look forward to over the next few months has gotten me very excited. They’ll be celebrations for the 4th of July, a trip to the carnival, fun days off exploring Maine, opportunities to get out on the lake and go paddle boarding, getting to watch all the kids summer plays and feeling like a proud mum and best of all, making memories with fantastic people from all over the world.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience at camp so far. I’ll be posting more about my time in America soon.
Want to find out what to bring with you? Check out my ultimate camp counselor packing list here.
I applied to work at camp through Camp Leaders who were very supportive and helpful. If you want to find out more about working at a Camp in America you can visit the Camp Leaders website.
If you have any questions or want to find out more about camp just drop me a comment below, contact me on social media or send me over a message. I’d be happy to help.