Name – David Knight
Age – 22
Studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London
When I applied for the Camp America programme I was in my second year of uni and wanted to do something a bit different whilst still earning some money over my summer. A friend of mine had been involved with Camp America the summer before and told me how much she loved it. It really sounded appealing to me, so I checked it out on the website and began the application process! I figured I’d gain some life experience, have an interesting addition to my CV, make some new friends, do what I love all summer and spend 3 months in America!!!
Whilst I was at camp I was what the Americans call a “Camp Counselor”. This is not a therapist or a shrink as you might first think; it’s what they call the supervisors and activity leaders. The role of a camp counsellor is to be a mum, dad, brother, sister, best friend, teacher and mentor to the kids you are responsible for. You spend 24 hours a day with the kids so it is pretty intense, but it’s incredible fun and you really do get something out of it. Most of the time there will be between 5 and 12 kids in your cabin and you could have an age group of anywhere between 6 and 17.
When you’re not in the cabin you get the chance to teach something that you are good at. For example, at my camp I worked in what was called “The Rockshop”, which is basically the music department. I was teaching drums, singing and guitar. This was perfect for me, as I want to be a professional drummer! The possibilities of what you can teach are endless and it really does depend on what you are good at! You could teach sports, from tennis to soccer, and American football to baseball…even Disc Golf!!! Water sports are available, too, along with arts and crafts, drama, go-carting, rock climbing, hiking, cycling, computing and academic studies, yoga, swimming, and the list goes on. You’re guaranteed to get involved with something you’ve never done before!!
Camp America is not expensive if you look at everything you get from it: You pay an initial £360, which covers the application process and agency fees, but you also get your flights and medical insurance. There is an optional fee for baggage insurance (which I would recommend that you take) and then on top of this you need to pay for a visa, CRB check and medical form. Over all it comes to a cost of about £500. But you get a 3-month holiday and you’d usually pay that much for a week! Camp America provides a 24/7 helpline to help with problems and they provide support with all aspects of the application process. Besides that you get paid by the camp you work at when you come to the end of your 9 weeks of work, then you have until the 31st October to travel before your visa runs out!
It’s also an incredible feeling knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life and that’s the reason I’m going back for my 3rd year at camp this summer. I love enabling kids to enjoy and make the most of their time away from home.
The only downside to camp is that it is really hard work and it is very intense a lot of the time. You don’t get much time off; generally one day a week, but you tend to overlook this because it’s such an awesome experience.
Being able to put on my CV that I’ve taught drums in America for 9 months is cool because it shows that I have an experience that not a lot of other people can claim to have had, which I feel will give me a better chance of becoming a professional drummer and if it wasn’t for Camp America I wouldn’t be able to say that!
My advice is: don’t look at Camp America as a job for the summer, look at it as an incredible opportunity to not only experience, but become a part of a different culture. You’ll make friends for life, you’ll make a difference to people and you’ll come back to England a totally different person! Good luck!!!