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How To Survive An American Summer Camp

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In the summer of 2009, I worked at an American Summer Camp in New York State. I was so excited; the wanderlust and nomad in me counting the days until the next adventure. I had danced for 18 years prior to getting my job as a dance teacher at camp, but was feeling apprehensive about just how much I would be able to teach the students if they were better at dancing than me! Once I had arrived, the angst became worse. What had I done?
Looking back, I now realise that I wish I had had someone who had experienced camp life before, to tell me just what I should expect.
Expect to feel homesick
Homesickness occurs often in the bunks at camp; children missing their parents and calling out for them, but it can also happen to you. Times have obviously changed, and wi-fi now exists in certain areas in many camps, but don’t expect it to be something you can rely on. Not only will you probably not have phone signal, but you may also not have any communication with the outside world at all. Be prepared to feel lonely, but also be prepared to embrace the lack of contact by just enjoying the simple things in life; nature, sun, and good times.
Throw yourself into everything you can
When I first arrived at camp, I was overwhelmed by the sheer passion of some people, (bearing in mind I was at a performing arts camp), and all I could hear was the sound of musicals and people singing at the top of their voices to have a conversation, rather than simply speaking. I found myself wondering how I was going to fit in, or how I was going to cope with 8 weeks of constant noise! The best way to make the most of your experience at camp is to completely immerse yourself in where you are, and what you are doing. Go to every show or performance you can, and open your mind to things you may have never even thought about. Camp gives you the opportunity to not only learn things about other people and yourself, but also allows you to experience and enjoy things you may not have even thought about before.
Open your mind to all kinds of people
Camp can be challenging in the fact that you are surrounded by so many different individuals on a daily basis, that you sometimes forget that they all have a story which may actually be really interesting to hear. Camp can be lonely, and you can sometimes feel that you just need someone that you know, to just listen to you. The many people around you may seem like strangers, but actually, they may just be what you need. Camp is the best place to meet people from all walks of life and every background, and you just need to be prepared to be sociable, in order to get the most out of your camp experience. I met some of the best people at camp, who I then went on to travel for 2 years with. You just never know what will happen once you widen your perspective.
Plan something to look forward to
Early mornings and long days are the norm in camp life, and sometimes the days seem to blend into one. Camp can be draining; having sometimes less than 3 days off per month. Energy levels may drop, especially when the children come and go and conversations become repeated. With this in mind, it is very important to plan something to look forward to, so as to have the most amount of fun possible on your free days. Usually, your camp will offer you a choice of something to do for the day; a trip to the city or a nearby landmark, a trip to the theme park or even the beach. Make the most of it, you’ll feel much more refreshed upon arriving back to camp!


Doing an American summer camp is one of the best experiences you could ever have, but like everything it has its ups and downs. It gives you the opportunity to feel emotions you wouldn’t have expected to feel as an adult, and allows you to meet people who you may never have come across in your life. Camp has the ability to plant the travel bug within you, and ensures that once you leave, it is all you think about. Immerse yourself and open your mind, and you may just have the best summer of your life.

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