Guest blog post by Niall Yates.
I am going to give you a first-hand insight into the experience of working as a summer camp counselor in the United States of America. Some days are tough, some days are tougher, but some days make you wish you could never leave, and that every season was summer. This may sound crazy to all of you, but this is something that you need to personally experience to truly understand what I mean. I personally believe that anyone can be a camp counselor; but you need the right attitude to get you through it.
I won’t lie to you; working at a summer camp is hard! Within the space of one hour you could be laughing your head off, and then find yourself so overwhelmed with every emotion under the sun which you didn’t realize you’ve been building up until it all comes out in a waterfall of tears. However, the best thing is that you have some incredible people from all over the world to share your experience with.
I have made lifelong friends from both my first and currently second Camp America experience with who I’ve been through everything and anything with. The connection of friendship and family within these people in the space of 8 weeks created a stronger bond with anyone I’ve ever met in my life. These are the people that get you through the tough days and share with you the best days. And that’s something truly special that only a handful of people get to experience in their lives.
The children can be wonderfully frustrating and frustratingly wonderful in the same day, and you often find your lives changed for good because of your campers, despite the expectation to be the one changing the lives of these campers.
When you get back home, and as your friendship bracelet tan lines start to fade, the weather starts getting cooler (or warmer for us Southern Hemisphere counselors), the echoing chants and songs fade to memory, and your FaceTime dates with your friends don’t cut it any longer, all you want to do is crave the feeling of summer camp again. It’s your summer home; a place that no other can compare to.
You have to say yes to everything while you’re still here. Make a fool of yourself, do something wild and insane, make every day count, and when you have your bad days, just remember why you came here. Make the most of the experience, and remember, working at a summer camp is the hardest job you will ever love.
The U.S. Embassy is running a photo competition to celebrate the opportunity that Kiwi youth can have working as summer camp counselors in the United States, and highlight the benefits that this experience can bring. Photographic submissions can be made via social media using the hashtag #USNZCampCounselor, and more information can be found here: https://nz.usembassy.gov/photo-contest-usnzcampcounselor/.