Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Campfire Stories... How Summer Camp Changed My Life

Summer Camp. This American institution brings about with it images of campfires, s'mores, bugs, screaming kids, long days, longer nights and friendships built on sleep deprivation and intended to last a life time. For me, working 3 years as a summer camp counselor was all of these things and so so much more. As far as life changing experiences go, I would boldly claim that this has a pretty firm hand in the top 3 of my life. Flying around the world in order to team up with total strangers who share next to nothing outside of one simple and common goal; to give children a summer they could never forget.

Morphing into a united front of support and enthusiasm, sending kids up high walls, across ropes courses hanging 35 feet in the air, introducing them to their first horse/snake/tarantula, forcing the consumption of vegetables, if only because you wanted to sneak them an extra cookie afterwards... all these things equate to a successful summer camp role model. The summers I spent supporting courage, building confidence and encouraging character from these kids were rewarding beyond belief.

Thanks to the straight forward and highly accessible programs such as Camp America and BUNAC, it is now easier than ever to trade in your damp, unpredictable English summers for the heat, bugs and never ending junk food sources of North America. Financially these programs are very kind to the average student and with just a little preparation the adventure can begin. With these programs providing well monitored online forums, it is easier than ever before to become acquainted with others who share your camp destination (although if you ask me, being thrown into the social deep end is half the fun!). With their ongoing support and presence, not only while you apply and locate a host camp but also once you are stateside, they make for a well cushioned first experience, with just the right amount of challenge.

I would (and have) suggested these programs and the opportunities that they offer to anyone who longs for something out the ordinary and is willing to listen to me for at least 5 minutes! I look forward to sharing more of the memories and tales I acquired during my summers in Ohio in this blog. Oh and word to the wise Englishman - never forget the bug spray, we taste the best...

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