Sometimes all you need is a hug

We asked Siubhan, a counselor and circus instructor at Independent Lake Camp, what life is like if you are having a bad day whilst working at summer camp…

“At Independent Lake Camp, the support system for bunk counselors is excellent. We work directly under our head counselors, who are at camp to ensure not only that the campers are having a great time but that the staff are happy, because the counselors that are best at their jobs are also the ones that are happiest! If there are ever any problems with campers, other staff, or personal issues, the head counselors are always there and always very approachable. Sometimes even if all you need is a hug because you’ve had a bad day, head counselors are happy to provide that, and maybe even some snacks or a listening ear.

There are three head counselors at camp, a boys and a girls ‘Lakeside’ head (the older campers) and an ‘Elkview’ head (the younger campers). Although you work with one more closely than the others depending on which bunk you are in, all of them are always approachable and willing to help with any problems. They care so much about bunk counselors’ and campers’ wellbeing that sometimes they sacrifice their own! So it’s important for us to support them as well and do our jobs to the best of our ability.

In addition to head counselors, I am very lucky to work in the circus department, which is often referred to as a family. Everyone in the department is close with each other and extremely supportive. Our heads of department are strong female leaders who I look up to and have learned a lot from. They have always been there to help me with any issues that I have, both within the department and outside of it. From not knowing what tricks to teach a specific camper or how to put an act together, to trouble I’m having in the bunk, I know I can count on not only my peers but also the senior members of staff. There are sometimes days when teaching is really hard because you’re sick or missing home, and they will always do their best to support you and make everything just a little bit easier.”

Spotlight on…video counselors

Here we find out from Jenny, a two time summer camp pro, what life is like as a video counselor

“My role as  a video and bunk counsellor meant that I was primarily making camper films. This meant me working with kid(s) to create a film that they wanted – this ranged from voice over films to short films often based on films/books that were already out. I would work with them from writing the script until editing. As well as this the video team filmed all the performing arts nights, chamber music nights, rock nights, events (such as July 4th), bunk shout outs… Our camp ran a tech week and a parents weekend and during these we would film all the plays, musicals, dance shows, circus shows and the variety show.

All this filming was a team effort – we distributed the shows between the video staff so different people would do credits, titles, colour correcting and tweaking the audio when needed. For the 3rd session I was doing video diaries, for which I had to create eight videos for the different departments around camp. This involved me going around camp, to rehearsals for shows, or music lessons and even out on the lake! Filming the kids having a great time and from that I then edited the footage and created the video diaries.

As well as having a specific job role I was also a bunk counsellor which means you live with a group of children in a bunk (some camps call it a cabin) and you look after them. You have to count them when you go to morning/afternoon meetings, whenever you go to the dining hall, you eat with them, get them to clean their teeth etc  Most importantly you are one of first people they should come to if they need anything.”

First impressions that make forever memories

We asked Alice, a costume designer for Long Lake Camp, to describe her first impressions of summer camp:

“Arriving at camp was all kinds of emotions – exciting, nervous, overwhelming, overpowering and crazy! I was extremely nervous on the run up to going to camp and I even remember getting quite emotional saying bye at the airport to my family as I just didn’t really know what to expect! It was also the first time I had flown solo on a long-haul flight so that was quite daunting too!

On the first day arriving at camp we had a quick welcome chat with the camp director and then in the first 10 minutes I was told who I would be bunking with and I went with a bunk mate to the cabin! Everyone was so friendly and welcoming which was so reassuring and I was definitely getting more excited now! My bunk mates had worked at this camp before, so I knew If I had any questions they would help me out, I was also bunking with a newbie too who was also working in the tech department so that was comforting too. That night the whole camps staff relaxed and chilled by the bonfire which over looked the beautiful lake which was a great chance to introduce and get to know other staff members! I felt so overwhelmed that I finally arrived at camp and the fact that I didn’t know anyone felt like it was my first day of school! It was nice to know that it wasn’t just me that felt like this. Camp was beautiful, and I will always remember looking at the lake for the first time that day remembering ‘wow’!

Leaving camp after 10 weeks was really sad and I had made such amazing memories and friendships over the summer. It was so special, and I felt so proud of myself for doing something for me that summer and going out and doing something that felt so rewarding, fulfilling and satisfying. Now after going to camp for two summers I still feel a sense of achievement and I still remember how nervous I was on that first day of camp!”

Who knew?

Need real career experience…summer camps can give you just that no matter what your skill set is.  Who knew that you can work at an American summer camp as a blacksmith, flying trapeze artist, saxophone player or quad bike mechanic?  There is a job for everyone…here are some words from Alice, a costume designer who discovered the perfect summer job for her which ultimately led to landing her dream job back home when she returned:Untitled design

“I finished university in 2016 and a few months after graduating I knew I wanted to do something fun and different with my upcoming summer. I’d done some travelling before, but I also wanted to try and gain some experience in something potentially career related too. Gaining experience in Costume and Wardrobe for Theatre was beginning to be difficult having only just graduated, so I knew I had to research alternative ways to build a portfolio.

I knew of people who had worked at American summer camps and had a blast, so I started researching it myself.  My mum had also worked at summer camp in Connecticut in the 80’s and still to this day she talks fondly of her experience. Because I knew I had a very specific skill set I decided against completing a general summer camp application and instead got onto Google and sat researching to see if Costume related roles even existed at summer camps! I found a few Performing Arts Camps online that offered staff roles in working in the theatre department, so I was very eager to find out more. I discovered that at performing arts camps they require a team just for costuming the campers for productions, so once I realised I could combine my skills and passion for costume design I sat and applied for few different camps on their online applications.

A day later I had an email and phone call from a camp director and we chatted for a while about the role and my suitability! I think I had two phone calls in the end from Long Lake and I got offered the job. I remember being so nervous about going to camp as I didn’t know anyone however there really wasn’t anything to worry about and most of the staff were newbies too so in the exact same boat!

I had such an amazing time in my first year and after returning home I got one of my dream jobs working at a theatre as a wardrobe assistant and my experience of working at camp really made my application stand out. I soon got the call from the camp director asking if I would return the following year and I was already so excited to return”

Vacancies at Camp Lohikan

Here, in the words of their Camp Director Joe Clinton, is what Camp Lohikan is looking for this summer.

“Nothing is more important than our staff and we know it. If you are a hard working individual who enjoys children, you may be just the person we’re searching for. Staff members must be able to put kids first at all times. It is also essential that staff members be strong role models for our campers. And because we’re working with kids, we have strict policies in many areas including alcohol, smoking, curfew, etc. While it is preferable that our staff members have some experience working with children, this is not a prerequisite. Many program areas require skills and certifications to safely operate and this is a priority.”Why Lohikan_

The following skills are required:

  • Lifeguard
  • Boating
  • Circus
  • Trapeze
  • Woodwork
  • Riflery
  • Archery
  • Pottery
  • Ccreative Arts
  • Skateboard
  • Mini-bikes
  • Horse riding
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Rock climbing
  • High ropes
  • Music – guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, rock musician
  • Paintball
  • Tennis
  • Soccer

Internationals are welcome to apply – approx 25% of their 200 strong staff team are Internationals.  Make My Summer will assist with the process of obtaining the necessary visa paperwork.

Contact jacqueline@makemysummer.com  for further information and an application form.