Tace Bleasby tells us about what is was like to live the American Dream on a working holiday at a summer camp in the USA.
Wake up, eat breakfast, head off to work and sit at your computer. Just another day at the office. Except your office is made of wood, only a hundred metres from the shore of a beautiful eleven mile lake, surrounded by green fields and tall trees in the Pine Tree State of Maine.
It’s a minute’s walk from your bed to your breakfast table, where breakfast is served ‘family style’ and you share it with your best friends. Thirty minutes later you’re joined by almost 300 more friends as you stand in shorts and T-shirts in the early morning sunshine and hear about the day ahead. You walk fifty metres to your office and look out to see the white cabins of the bunkline, the huge wooden dining hall, soccer pitches, baseball fields, basketball courts and boats docked on the lake. Like I said, just another day at the office at Summer Camp.
This was my third year at Kamp Kohut, Maine on BUNAC’s Summer Camp USA programme. Having worked in previous years as a media counsellor and lifeguard, this time I found myself in the Program Department. Whether organising the weekly schedule for over 200 campers, planning carnivals, organising special events or tracking down necessary supplies Team Prog were on the case!
Three years ago, when first applying, I decided I wanted to spend my summer somewhere outdoorsy, working with kids and teaching something that I loved. I will never forget opening my confirmation letter and seeing the name of where I would be spending my summer months. Clicking on Kamp’s website, I could not believe my luck, and as beautiful as it is in pictures, it’s even better in real life.
Arriving into a group of sixty-plus people is always pretty daunting, but they couldn’t be nicer. For ten days before the campers arrive, all the staff take part in ‘orientation’, which prepares you for what’s going to happen when the kids get there, from giving you time and help to prepare lesson plans, to finding out about which age group you would be best suited to living with – all intermingled with games.
Weekly events such as camp fires and camp dances are given a dry-run by the staff, who also get to try out some of the many day trips that will be running throughout the summer, including lobster fishing, gem mining and hiking. It’s such a fun ten days you almost don’t want the kids to arrive.
When they do, the vibe changes entirely and the energy levels go through the roof. You’ll be surprised how quickly you adapt to living with up to fifteen other people in a bunk, having so little down-time and getting your counsellor hat on. You go from zero to sixty in no time at all and it doesn’t let up all summer. Having breakfast at 7.30 and not climbing into bed sometimes until 1 o’clock the next morning means Summer Camp isn’t an easy job, but it embodies the BUNAC mantra that it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love!
It’s hard for summer camp to get stale. In between the five days of ‘regular activity’ there are Trip Days, Blue and White Days and special events – camp dances, campfires, musicals, talent shows, bunk skits and the all-important Olympics and Kollege Days – three days of top-secret fun and competitions that keep the campers guessing all summer.
Tearing yourself away from camp is probably the hardest part of the summer but in my three years I have had some amazing travels with great friends, dropping in at the houses of people I met at camp along the way. Boston was my first stopping point and having seen the entire country, this city is still my favourite in America.
My life has been split into two distinct parts – the years before camp and the ones after. Camp changes you in the best ways possible and it shows you the best that you can be. It gives you the best friends, the best memories and provides you with the best, most beautiful places in the world to work.
The best thing I’ve ever done for myself is to book Summer Camp USA.
Keen to follow in Tace’s footsteps?
Visit www.bunac.org.uk/summercampusa for further information and to apply online, or call 020 7553 6180 for exclusive application tips from the BUNAC team.
Interviews are scheduled to take place around the UK between October and April (see website for specific dates); apply early for the best chance of securing a place.
BUNAC’s Summer Camp USA programme costs £495, which covers the interview, insurance, placement service, transatlantic flights, SEVIS fee (US Immigration), visa support, plus food and accommodation on camp. Camp counsellors earn a minimum salary of $900, which increases with age, specialist skills and qualifications.
This article was in partnership with BUNAC