Summer in the U S of A!

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Lucy fills us in on summer camp life in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland. She talks about her amazing experience with the wonderful people that she met and what she learnt from camp life.

As I emerged through the doors of the arrivals area of BWI airport, I was greeted by a large helium “welcome” balloon and the faces of my two best friends, who I hadn’t seen in a year. This sort of the event is the direct result of my application 2 years ago to the BUNAC Summer Camp USA program. Within twelve hours of leaving the airport I was back home; Camp Louise, a camp for girls in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland.

Working at a summer camp is one of those experiences you can’t truly understand until you are there. The overriding feeling is that of family; when you live and work at a summer camp it becomes your home, whilst those around you become your family. Everyone is so close at camp; it’s a truly unique place to work. The best place.

My first few days at camp are always a bit hectic, a combination of getting the department up and running, whilst helping camp prepare for the arrival of the campers at the same time as completing an intensive training course in high ropes and learning the local caves. It’s all in a week’s work… That’s the beauty of a job at a summer camp; a week there is never boring. After this the campers themselves arrive, and then the fun really begins. It’s brilliant to see how much the campers have changed in the year that you’ve all been apart, and to see how excited they all are to be together again in their summer home. No one gets any sleep on the first night.

After the initial excitement, life settles into something of a pattern of sleeping, eating, completing activities, eating and sleeping again. Occasionally in my department, we like to throw in a day which doesn’t quite fit the schedule, which explains why I found myself at the beginning of the Catoctin Trail at 7am on a particularly hot morning, ready to attempt a 27 mile hike in one day with a group of campers. This is the kind of goal which to everyone outside the camp world seems ridiculous, but for us just makes the summer more fun.

Days at camp become a blur of activity. One day I’ll be leading a group of seven year olds on the high ropes course for the first time, the next I’ll be camping out in the forests by a lake, or wading waist deep through mud whilst exploring a new cave. The evenings get taken up with camp wide activities; game shows, plays, the occasional battle of the bands… And so a second summer passed in a whirlwind of getting stuck in the mud (literally), hiking the Appalachian Trail, rock climbing and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Camp ended in the usual way – food and tears, with the trauma of leaving friends made bearable by a new excitement, the American road trip. For me, this year it was a journey up the East coast, through New York to Boston. My time there included historical tours, sight-seeing, whale watching and (you’ve guessed it) a lot more food. I can’t help but day dream about how happy I could be living in this country year round.

For me, the past two summers have been the best of my life. They’ve given me skills, experiences and friends that I will remember and love forever. I’m already counting down the weeks until I get back on that plane.

Want to hear more about Summer Camp Exchange USA? Why not give our team a call on 0207 870 9570?

Want to share your camp experience with our readers? Write us a blog and send it to promo@bunac.org.uk.