I Never Expected On Day One Of Camp USA That I’d Be Spending The Next Six Summers Here

I Never Expected On Day One Of Camp USA That I’d Be Spending The Next Six Summers Here

6 min read

You’ve probably heard this a dozen times, once you experience a Camp USA summer for yourself it’s difficult to imagine spending those glorious 3/4 months any other way.

WARNING: Camp USA is highly addictive, we’ve got proof. Take it away @popeshealy…

My experience of camp, from my first summer, to now in anticipation of my sixth has been as clichéd as you’ve heard anywhere else. The experience of a lifetime! Whether you go for one summer or six, camp is a great way to spend your summer.

Remembering the first time nerves…

For me, I was a bit nervous going over my first summer. As I had never been away from home for that long, and not in another country for that long by myself. It seems daunting at first, but once I realised that pretty much everyone else was in the same boat as me, it became a lot easier. It is not like your ‘typical’ J1 because getting a job and housing is already done for you. So, once you land in the U.S. everything has been set up and all you need to do is get to your camp and there you are for the summer.

You arrive at camp and walk through the gates and wonder what the hell am I doing!? A whole load of American staff cheering and clapping as you and all international staff pull up on the bus. It’s all a bit overwhelming for the first few days.

Camp Orientation Is Where The Penny Drops

The first week at camp is orientation, which is a training type week and an introduction to the camp itself. This is the week that you get to know everyone before the campers arrive. It’s an odd week, you’re not too sure what’s going on, you’re in a new environment, complete strangers around you but you know you’re in a safe place.

Some of those people that are complete strangers at the beginning end up becoming your friends for life! No joke, 5 years on and I’ve travelled to some of their weddings! You’ll be amazed by the bond camp can make between people. When we arrived both of us had a collective panic of ‘we’re definitely being brainwashed’! It was so wholesome and American we couldn’t quite believe it.

We were learning phrases like “It’s nice to be nice”. We learn about having integrity and what it means, “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” These things sound a bit ridiculous when you hear them first. But in theory, if you can’t be a good example for the campers you will be looking after for the next 7 weeks, how can they learn to grow into good people.

When The Campers Arrive…

After a week of getting to know camp and your surroundings the campers arrive. It is mayhem! But it’s the best day.

You meet the campers and before you know it, camp has well and truly begun. The campers make camp what it is. They quite literally become your kids for the summer. You are there to ensure they have the best summer they’ve ever had and in turn you end up having one the best summers of your life. Or if you’re like me, you’ll have 5 of the best summers of your life!

Five Years Later, Camp Is Still King

After going back each summer for 5 summers, I have seen my campers grow up and turn into great kids. I’ve met their families, even gone to visit some on my travels after camp. It’s things like this they don’t tell you in the brochures, or you get told before you go, and you don’t believe it. Trust me, I didn’t believe the hype either! I was just set on having a summer of sitting on a lake in the sun in the states and not in Ireland.

Which brings me to my job at Camp USA – the waterfront, teaching swimming and lifeguarding. The work is hard, you’ll be tired and if you’re like me, sunburned. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. The weather is amazing and to have a lake 30 seconds from your front door to jump into every day to cool off, really does make the hard work worthwhile. Working on the waterfront has given me some of the best training I can get. Although I had my lifeguarding qualifications before going over, each year I get retrained which is a great bonus. Being a speciality counsellor is the best of both worlds, you have your own division of campers to look after, but you also get to know all the other divisions as they regularly come to the lake for activity periods. 

Massive thanks to @popeshealy for sharing her Camp USA journey. Sounds like it’s not finished just yet either…

Did you know Camp USA is not only the cheapest way to have a J1 style summer but with free accommodation and food you can save plenty for a month to explore the US after you say goodbye to your campers (that sucks to be fair).  Apply today for access to our January Camp USA Hiring Fairs and let’s get planning that summer you’ll never forget. Email campusa@usit.ie or call (01) 602 1808 to speak to our team today.