How I Discovered Summer Camping
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
In 2013, I was bored being at home and I wanted to do something with my summer. I wanted something on my resume, to stand out. To be honest, I just wanted to do something after a summer of applying for summer jobs and not getting anything! I researched jobs that I could do abroad because I loved the idea of travelling. I traveled around the UK to football away matches, city breaks around the country and to seaside/touristy places but never really ventured far out of Europe besides on school trips. I can not speak another language so that limited me to where I could go in the world, but there was so much choice out there. I was kind of overwhelmed, who am I kidding I was definitely overwhelmed.
There were so many options; work experience programs, volunteering, summer camps, the list goes on and on and on. Definitely do your research! Figure out what you want your summer to look like and where in the world you want to do that. This will help you navigate your way through all the noise that you will find during an online search. Eventually I found CCUSA UK. I was so impulsive; that night I applied online to their USA Camp Counsellor Program. This is their fancy way of saying summer camp program. They ask for your interests, any experience you have had with kids or any previous employment. And there are no worries if you do not have anything, even babysitting your younger siblings count!
From there, there are two options: you could set up on video interview and meet up with CCUSA rep, who basically gets to know you a little better than just you on a piece of paper. Or you can go to an actual jobs fair and do it all in person. I opted for the job fair. If I could not get a job via a resume the previous summer, I was not going to make that mistake again. Plus, I felt awkward speaking to a stranger about myself via a webcam - like where do you look? How do you look normal online? So many questions.
Anyways, I waited until the job fair rolled round. I traveled to Leeds (which is around an hour away on the train), and arrived at a large hall filled with excitable camp staff/owners waiting to hire their summer 2013 staff and nervous people that wanted to be hired – that was me. There was a small process before you actually see camp owners/staff and it was basically are you who your online profile says you are? If yes, great! Move on, so nice to meet you. Everyone from the CCUSA, were super helpful, confident and have got every answer you need.
Once you passed that process, you were released into the wild! Over 30 camps set up their booths with people lining up to speak to them about their individual camp and basically having a casual interview there and then. I did my research before arrival on which camps were coming to the fair and made a list on the ones that I thought I would be best fit for. So naturally I went to these tables first. You line up, chat to the people beside you, everyone is super friendly, because 1. you never know you could be placed at the same camp as them. You could go into the summer with one friend, how cool is that?! And 2. You want to be perceived as outgoing, friendly and confident - it is kind of like an audition in that way.
When speaking with all the camps, I noticed they were not trying to sell me their camp as ‘the best.’ They were all very genuine, said it how it was and was honest about the job. At the end of the day they are also wanting the best staff they can possibly find too. After speaking to six different camps. I came across International Gymnastics Camp. They did not have a line up, but had three staff members at their booth. The owner, Brent Klaus, and then two staff members that came through the exact same process that I was doing.
IGC is a specialised overnight co-ed camp, that has weekly sessions where the campers are trained in gymnastics. This camp is a niche set-up and a very different camping experience to your usual traditional summer camps – hence the no line up. It was not your typical camp that many Brits think of when applying for a summer camp experience. I was chatting with all three about myself, my dance background, my hobbies and I could see their eyes lighting up - they were looking for dance specialists for their female gymnastics program. I was hired right then and there!
After the job fair, CCUSA was fantastic at following up my offer, and going ahead with my application. They have many different options with what they can offer – I like to think of it like insurance plans. They have a basic rate, and then more add-ons are more money, but they are totally worth it! Especially for me, someone that has never done anything like this before. It was great, the fact that they sort you out and you do not even have to think about it. I chose the option which included:
· Application fee
· Return flights
· J1 Visa
· Arrival Orientation
· 1 night in a hostel upon arrival
· Transportation to your camp
They also had an option where my return flight had a flexible return date! Now that to me was amazing. The fact I did not have a date set in stone, so after my placement I could travel and not be confined to a certain date was brilliant for me. CCUSA supported me through all this.
Leading up to my departure date, CCUSA held an orientation meeting for anyone who was a first-time staff member. This was a two-hour meeting, going over little things like; travel insurance, the culture of summer camps in the states, how CCUSA can help you once you are out on your placement, any paperwork you need to submit before leaving for your placement. Finally, they give you a small loot bag for attending; which included discount codes for travel companies, a water bottle, and a free USA sim card and calling card.
Before departure, CCUSA got in contact with all the applicants that were going to the same camp as me, who were also who were on my flight. That way before we even left England, we kind of knew people that we were going to spend the summer with. For my family, this was calming knowing that I was not going to be travelling alone. And for me, the first time I was doing anything like this, it was nice to be with people, who were doing the same experience as me and what is better than passing the time at an airport getting to know someone! It’s a truly unique experience, and what a cool story to have - we met at an airport.
I am so happy that I just went ahead and booked it. It was my first ‘real’ job and boy oh boy did it help me develop personally, socially, emotionally and professionally. You name it, living and working away from home, in a different country, with people in the exact same boat as you, truly does shape the type of human you want to become. Plus, it gives you some pretty epic stories to tell too!