Chris' Summer Camp experience at an all-girls camp

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Chris, BUNAC's J1 Specialist, spent his summer working at an all-girls summer camp in Wisconsin, where he led wildlife expeditions across the surrounding states. We've caught up with him to get the lowdown on his Summer Camp USA experience...

So Chris, you worked at a Girl Scout Camp. what was your favourite part of the experience?

I worked at a camp called Camp Birch Trails in Wisconsin. Without a doubt one of the best parts of camp is the people you meet and the amazing experiences and memories you make while there. The experience is unlike any other - the connections you make with your fellow counsellors and camp staff will stay with you long after you leave camp. Although camp is one of the hardest job’s you’ll ever love, it’s also a chance for you to just be yourself, away from judgment and where you'll undeniably have more fun than you’d have in any other job.

Tell us a bit about your role as a Wilderness Trip Leader…

I would lead 5 - 18 night kayak, canoeing, hiking or biking trips around Wisconsin and the surrounding states. During my time at camp, I kayaked on Lake Superior, canoed down the Namekagon Flowage, hiked the Superior Hiking Trail and biked through the Chequamegon National Forest. My role would involve managing an expedition, teaching the girls wilderness skills and encouraging them to get the most out of their wilderness trip.

How was it being a boy at a Girl Scout Camp?

Before heading out, this was one thing I was incredibly apprehensive about, but once there I realised there was nothing to worry about at all. In both my years at camp there were three boys that worked there and we all got on really well. Being a boy at a Girl Scout Camp also makes you a bit of a celebrity on camp, so for anyone else about to embark on a similar experience, be prepared for your on camp fame!

As well as your wilderness trips, what other activities did they have at your camp?

Archery, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddle boarding, Arts/Crafts, Nature activities, Low ropes course and Field games. Some activities took place outside of the camp, and they included horse riding programmes, trips to Wisconsin Dells (the water park capital of the world), Mount Rushmore, The Badlands and Madison (Wisconsin State Capital).

That sounds amazing! We’ve heard Girl Scout Camps are really rustic - what was your accommodation like?

At my camp they had several different kinds of accommodation: Yurts (more like Glamping Tents – they even have a sky window so you can look up at the amazing American Night sky), Wood Cabins (The Parent Trap style), Platform tents (slightly more rustic - this is a permanent tent that’s put up for the summer - it has wooden floors and permanent beds).

As well as all the great reasons you’ve already mentioned, why should people consider working at a Girl Scout Camp?

Girl Scout Camps are all based around the development of the girls - it’s so rewarding! For one to two weeks of the year you become an extremely influential and idolised individual in this young person’s life.  In the role I did at camp this was even more prevalent, as you would see the girls develop and progress across the 5- 18 day trips and appreciate the sense of achievement once they’d completed their wilderness expedition.

We also asked the Camp Director at Camp Birch Trails (Lisa Freeman) what she looks for when hiring staff for her camp…

"As a Camp Counsellor you must be confident in decision making, risk management and safety, outdoor skills including campfire cooking, fire building, sleeping in tents at primitive sites, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking, swimming, and obtaining a lifeguard certification. All of these skills, along with nature activities, art activities, teambuilding, archery and working with girls 24 hours a day for 7 days straight, is the counsellors main focus. Counsellors are responsible for developing the girls' courage, confidence and character while maintaining selflessness and always putting their campers needs ahead of their own."

Has this made you come down with some serious Summer Camp fever? Summer Camp USA is OPEN for 2018 applications! Sign up today or give us a call on 0333 999 7516, email us at camps@bunac.org.uk or tweet us at @BUNAC_UK using #CampQ.