Do I Get Days Off?
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
You are not expected to work for the full two months. Luckily, you are given days off! Yay! I know how nice the camps are to give you some freedom from the camp bubble. This is one topic I personally had so many questions about before I arrived at summer camp. I was over thinking and kept asking myself: how do they work? What shall I do? Where can I go? And so much more.
With days off, every camp is different, and they have their own policies in place that work for them. Do not worry, you will be walked through the entire process during pre-camp at your summer camp. However, days off might be the exact opposite of what the name implies.
In the real world: you may use your days off to rest, relax, watch Netflix and prepare ready for the upcoming working week. However at camp, days off are something completely different. Days off are anticipated. They are built up to be 24 hours of fun and trying to cram a lot into such a short space of time. Even though it is advised to take time to rest and relax on your day off, usually you do quite the opposite. You get whisked away in the excitement of getting out of camp and not having any of the responsibility. But with all that excitement, exhaustion can come in the days after.
My first camp experience everyone had the same day off – 11am Saturday to 11am Sunday – as my camp set up as a weekly intake all summer long. Meaning the campers arrive on Sunday and leave on Saturday. With hindsight this was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t have to plan when I was going on my day off, plan what I was going to do (as the camp planned that for us, taking us on cultural excursions) or have any additional stress with transport, etc.
At the time, I was torn about how I felt with everything being organised for me. I loved that I was experiencing something new every week and the camp took on the expense of entry and transport, but with all of this came a sense of tiredness and irritation. I had worked all week, full of energy, been on 24-7 it felt like, as well as living with the campers. The whole process was tiring but ultimately some of my best memories of this summer adventure came from my days off.
Now my second camp experience, was a whole new world! At this summer camp it was a traditional set up in the fact the summer was 7 weeks long. Therefore, I had to plan and book my day off ahead of time. Now for me, this was a whole new experience. Due to the nature of the camp and the logistics of camp life, there were so many factors I had to consider. Which day was I going to take, I had to think about staff quotas and coordinating with my fellow co-staff, who was I going on a day off with, were there any dates I was not allowed to take, what was I going to do on my day off, was transport involved. The list was never ending. This was all added madness to normal camp life.
With camp being a seven-week program, I had 6 days off to take all summer long, now when you see this on paper you can think one of two things. Either, that’s fine, I won’t need them all – but full disclosure yes you do. Take all your days off! Or, you will think the complete opposite - I can’t get through a 5-day week at home, how can I cope with just one day off a week. Whatever your first thought is, taking your days off are necessary but do not worry you will get more time to rest and relax across your time at camp if needed.
Over the years, I find that people make the same mistake every single summer. This mistake is trying to save their days off for the end of the summer. This is silly! You could lose your days off, because you can’t physically get them in. This means you are working more than you should be. It is not like a ‘real job’ you do not get paid overtime, you are not being a hero by not taking your days off, it is just dumb on your part. The camp I went to suggest that you take 4 days off in the first 4 weeks and the final 2 days off in the final three weeks – of course, it is very rare people ever do what they are told but it is a suggestion, and maybe keep it in mind.
Here are my top tips when planning your day off:
1. Before planning anything, look at a camp calendar. See if there are any times you cannot leave camp. It could be because you are going on a field trip with your campers or there is a camp wide program that you do not want to miss. It helps narrow down your options.
2. Research if there is anything happening around your camp. This could be a local music festival or something that interests you. This could help you decide when you take those coveted days off.
3. Explore the idea of double days off. Some camps allow you to take 48 hours off instead of 24. This could be something to look into. Maybe you want to explore a close city and sightsee, or you just really need more than 24 hours off. Know your options.
I wish someone gave me these tips when I first faced planning my days off. I actually lost a day off because I didn’t take one in the first two weeks – I have definitely learned from that mistake! This hindered me later in the summer, I was so lethargic and ended up using one of my remaining days off just to sleep and I got super FOMO from what my friends were doing. Basically, I wish I had these tips!