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!”

An immense application for an immense opportunity

Applying for a job at Camp Augusta in the words of Ross Burton who worked there for two summers

“Camp Augusta has a rather unique application process; in terms of job applications it’s quite the monster! Not only does it take many hours of forms, personality tests, soul searching questions, and Skype interviews, but at times it was a personal challenge as well. To give an example the first question was “Who are you?”; I wrote about 500 words, I later learned that this was a little under the average for successful applications!

So is it worth it? 110% yes! You won’t find another summer camp experience that compares.

lake vera

Camp Augusta is situated in northern California within some of the most beautiful woodland and forest I have ever seen; it is wonderfully unspoilt and the wildlife is genuinely impressive, everything from skunks to mountain lions and from deer to bears. The camp sits on Lake Vera which provides the camp with a wonderful water-sports program. I had the opportunity to sleep under the stars in the fresh night air away from any city lights – the sounds and smells of nature is something sorely lacking from my life in the “real” world.

Staff put their heart and soul into getting a job at this camp but this effort is rewarded as Camp Augusta puts its heart and soul into its staff.   Staff training at Augusta is something special; at 3-4 weeks it is the longest training of any summer camp in the states. We learnt numerous skills in empathy, conflict management, psychology, education, one-to-one support, and communication. But also many simple fun games, and of course the skills sessions that we would be teaching over the summer.

Many staff members come to Augusta with skills ready to teach, and many come in with no prior experience in anything at camp apart from an enthusiasm to learn. In the course of training I learnt how to sword fight, shoot a crossbow, throw a bola, launch a slingshot, and make a friendship bracelet.

So, my final advice; take the plunge and try it out!  There are so many different camps out there but if you can relate to the philosophy at Augusta – and you will know within minutes of visiting their website if you can – then look at this immense application as an immense opportunity.  If you succeed you will lucky enough to have an experience that will change your life and training to take forward in all you do in the future.”

Ross Burton was once a physics teacher in secondary schools. Having quit his job to go to America for the summer he has returned to pursue a life of self-employment. He now tutors secondary school pupils in science, hosts science themed children’s parties, and occasionally appears as a T.V. extra. But mostly he is a professional circus performer; under the name Alexander Rossi he performs and teaches circus skills with specialisations in juggling, staff spinning, diabolo, fire, and magic.

A summer job that changes lives

Over the five years that I worked at camps in America I built up an endless array of memories that without fail always bring a smile to my face.  But my one stand out memory comes from my first summer as a lifeguard and general counsellor at Mateo Day Camp in San Francisco.

On this particular day we had taken all the children on a trip to the local water park; the excitement levels were at fever pitch and it was a typical hot sunny Californian day so the weather most definitely matched the mood in camp.  I was in charge of a group of 10 kids along with my co-counsellor Karli and we all headed straight to the biggest water slide with a reputation for offering the best views of the Bay area.  Karli stayed at the bottom and I headed up to the very top with all of the kids in hot pursuit.  One by one they went down until only Harry remained.  Harry had gone a peculiar shade of green and was visibly shaking. “I can’t do it” he said, “I am terrified of heights”.

I spent 3 hours that day in the blazing hot sunkar and me attempting to coax Harry down the slide, I would even have been happy to turn back and go down the steps but he was frozen in fear.  I kept calm and tried to distract him singing songs and sharing stories of our favourite things until eventually Harry turned to me and said, “I think I can do it, if you will be right behind me”.  He did it.  Not only that but he did it with a smile, and wanted to go on again because he loved it so much.

Three weeks later I got a thank you card from Harry’s Grandma who was overwhelmed by how I had managed to get Harry to conquer his fear.  The gratitude touched me as for me, I was just doing my job.  And that’s the thing about being a camp counsellor, you won’t always know the many different ways in which you will impact a kids life but you will, just by doing your job.  After that day at the water park Harry went on to conquer another fear that summer…he learnt to swim in the deep end of the pool.  It may not sound like a big deal but his family had been trying for 2 years to do that and every time his fear gripped him and overwhelmed him.  When I am facing tough times, or don’t feel brave enough to try something out of my comfort zone, I think back to Harry and ask myself, “what would Harry do?”

If you would like the opportunity to make a difference this summer visit and learn more about the summer camp locations and jobs available to you

Alternatively just get in touch and start a conversation…you never know where it might lead…