What if there was a place where you could spend all day acting like a big kid? If you could spend your days playing outside and your nights roasting marshmallows over an open fire? What if it was perfectly acceptable to not give a damn about how you look and even to go days without showering? Sound too good to be true? Well, what if you could do all of this AND get paid for it?
GOOD NEWS! This can actually happen if you choose to spend your summer working at a Summer Camp in the USA!
I've been lucky enough to spend the past two summers at a beautiful summer camp in Maine and they have been the best two summers of my life.
Coming from a generation with an addiction to all things digital, the very idea of putting myself in the middle of nowhere with little to no mobile reception and very limited wifi seemed downright terrifying! But by the end of my first summer I felt liberated and actually found it easy to put my phone down and forget it for a couple of hours. Those that know me well will understand what a life-changing accomplishment that is!
And the girls I got to work with - wow! They are incredible! The camp I work at is considered one of the most luxurious in the United States and with that comes a pretty hefty bill for the parents who choose to send their children there. I'm not going to lie, when I found that out I was fully prepared to spend a summer with spoilt, arrogant rich kids who thought they were entitled to everything under the sun. I couldn't have been more wrong. The girls I have worked with the past two summers are polite, talented, well-meaning and loving kids who appreciate what they have received in life. And they are so much fun!
My first summer they taught me how to play jacks, painted my nails, braided my hair and actually taught me a lot about myself as a person and I'm not the only one - every single person I know that has spent a summer at camp has come back a more well-rounded person with a plethora of stories to show for it.
Camps in the States always have some kind of waterfront - be it a lake or a pool (or both if you are lucky) and they have the most incredible views - definitely beats staring aimlessly out of the office window. Can you think of anything better than waking up to this every morning?
No? Me neither.
I could go on and on and on talking about camp for days on end but ain't nobody got time for that! Instead, here is a copy of something given to me by one of my bosses at camp at the end of my first summer and I think it sums up why people go to work at camp year after year better than I ever could:
Ode To The Camp Counselor
I was sitting around chatting with some law school friends this past spring. We were discussing our upcoming summer and what employment opportunities we had found. When I mentioned I would be returning to a summer camp to work as a counselor, I heard one of the girls laugh under her breath. I asked what was so funny about it. She said 'Be honest, what do you make doing that?"
"What do I make?" I replied...
I make seven weeks feel like seven minutes.
I make 200 new friends every summer.
I make sure home-missing girls are camp-missing when they get home.
I make kids walk with pride and value who they are.
I make sure kids hear about it when they do something great (and when they do things not so great).
I make kids shoot a thousand shots so that when they take the one that counts, it goes in.
I make kids ask the girl sitting on the side by herself to join the game so they see the value of reaching out and including everybody.
I make kids make their beds every morning (and sometimes mine too) so they learn the importance of responsibility.
I make kids wait in line so they understand the frustration and value of patience.
I make kids sit out of a game for bad sportsmanship so they learn that type of behaviour isn't accepted in a competitive environment.
I make kids sit quietly during sunset circle so they begin to understand what respect really means.
I make kids who just got in a fight shake hands so they realise that burned bridges don't rebuild themselves.
I make it to breakfast by 8am even though I was out until 1 the night before.
I make the canoe go straight, even though the girl in the front keeps her paddle on the right for the entire trip.
I make the kids write home often so that I don't get yelled at on visiting weekend.
I make sure kids make fun of life and not of each other.
I make more memories during one summer than most people do in a lifetime.
It's easy to make a dollar but it takes passion to make a difference. And that's what I make.
What about you?
There are tons of organisations (BUNAC, Americamp, IENA, CCUSA, Camp America, Camp Leaders etc) that can help you make a difference too! Check it out - you might find your summer home just like I did :)