This is an article I wrote when I returned from my summer at Lake Greeley Camp and started working for the organisation USA Summer Camp. It’s a different style of writing for me and personally gift-wrapped with sarcasm! I toyed with this style to grab attention, make people look at making this incredible decision slightly differently and then hopefully inspire them to do it! I do plan on writing about my first summer at Camp in more detail before starting my second summer at Lake Greeley so stay tuned!
Are you in University? Perhaps a teacher? Looking to do something different with your summer? If so, you may have looked into working in a Summer Camp in the USA. You’ve probably heard personal stories of deep, meaningful, life changing experiences from previous participants. It’s likely your research on multiple websites about the benefits and the amazing opportunities Summer Camp can give you has sent exciting shivers down your spine. Well, you’ve been misled. I’m here to give you the damming truth about summer camp. You’re welcome. I have experienced a summer at camp myself and have interacted with 100s of summer camp participants during my placement and afterwards through my work as a USA Summer Camp representative. I know of at least two people who have had negative experiences. Why risk being the 3rd?
Read on the brutal truth of why you should not spend your summer at a summer camp.
There are a lot of Children in the World.
Do you really think impacting the lives of American children will change you? Do you think feeling a sense of purpose and achievement you will get at camp when you see these children grow in confidence really matter? It’s exhausting having to encourage and motivate children to learn new skills and push them out of their comfort zone. Is the sense of achievement and well-being that they feel on a daily basis at camp really worth it? Think you can personally make a lifelong difference to a child’s life by working at a summer camp? Think again.
I’ll tell you where can make a difference. Working in your local Co-operative Store through the summer. So many people rely on efficient staff to re-stock their shelves and serve them fresh produce. Without you, they would go hungry. And you do not want to be held accountable for starting a worldwide hunger crisis in your local village.
You face new challenges and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Okay, we all have something called a ‘comfort zone’ for a reason. So we feel comfortable. And as British people, we like to feel comfortable and safe. We crave creature comforts. We aspire for the small things in life. Sing along to camp-fire songs in front of everyone?! Try out the new trapeze and circus acrobat equipment?! Make lifelong friendships with people from all around the world?! Travel around America?! Oh, no thanks!! I don’t care if everyone is telling me that it will be the best experience of my life, it sounds too risky! I’m staying put.
Why put yourself through this and add extra stress to your life? Most challenges in life aren’t worth finishing. That’s the way some people approach new experiences, and why should you be different? What’s the point of growing in confidence?
Nah, you’re better off staying home for the summer. You don’t want to miss out on everything that’s going on at home! Like the new season of “Game of Thrones” coming out, it’s too risky to leave the country and rely on Sky Plus to keep the programme safe On Demand until you get back. Life is much better experienced through the television. Watch “Jamie Oliver’s American Road Trip” from the comfort of your beloved bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. There we go. Happiness in a tub right there.
Learning new skills is so overrated.
Learning new skills? But that requires effort! Who in their right mind wants to personally and professionally progress themselves with a new skill that could potentially enhance passion, happiness and CV’s?! I mean, learning how to play American Football does sound pretty cool but you’re not going to be playing that sport in the UK so what’s the point?
You haven’t got any more brain space to take in the challenges of learning how to play the guitar or how to tie-dye shirts in super cool colours. As for making friendship bracelets, it’s getting so common amongst campers and counsellors, eBay is the place to be if you want to get yourself some of them! Who cares who makes them and what they mean to you?
Trust me, your time and brain cells are wasted here. Think about all the other fun things you can be doing to engage yourself and get a sense of achievement. Like watching other people playing distorted cartoon games or them cute videos with pugs riding skateboards on YouTube. Now that’s what you call quality skills.
It’s not going to help you succeed in getting you that job of your dreams.
As we all know by now, the economy is not kind to new graduates and young aspiring adults so what makes you think a life-changing, inspirational placement working with children in a different country is going to make the slightest difference?!
In a world of such uncertainty, you need to be making smart, sensible decisions and taking the safest, easiest route possible. That way, there is no need to worry about putting in any extra hard work and you can go through life doing the bare minimum. But that’s a good thing. Less stress and a lovely big safety net called ‘Mum and Dad’.
You may have heard that employers value time spent abroad. While true, this also depends on whether you desire an average or extraordinary career. Average means safe, and safe means better. Surely, you don’t want to put yourself through the stress, pain and hard work that is needed to achieve your dream job that you’ve been passionate about since you were 5? It will kill any feelings of achievement, euphoria and accomplishment you MAY have. It is not guaranteed. With this in mind, forget going to a summer camp in the USA, do an admin course in your local college over the summer and land that office job at 22 and stay there until you retire. You only live once, so live a cubicle life of passion and inspiration.
Keep your skills to yourself. They are yours!
Start teaching skills that you have and you hold the risk of having competition which can lead to defeat, low self-esteem and damaged confidence. Can you imagine if a child you have been training goes from having no skills to doing exceptionally well in a hockey game because of you and what you have been teaching them? Yeah, you may have feelings of pride and affection towards them children because they are overwhelmed with happiness and accomplishment but you will have to live with the knowing that there are more people in this world that have had their lives changed because you’ve transferred YOUR skill to them. You have been warned.
Britain has everything you need.
You would be wise to listen to your great Aunt who has only left your town once and that was to pick up that last minute Christmas present from another Argos store because they had sold out in the local one. Those horror stories could become Stephen King movies, they are that scary!! Give into that pressure to stay at home for the summer. Granddad needs you and your excellent weeding skills.
Besides, why would you want to leave Britain at all?! Yeah, America has chocolate but they don’t have Cadbury! As for Primark, non-existent in the states. I know!! Doesn’t bear thinking about… and then there’s the issue of tipping. I mean you’re struggling with saving for that car you want as it is, do you really need that burden in your life affecting them chances? Why give this British culture and lifestyle up for three months to learn and experience a different way of life? Getting used to new cultural norms is challenging and may change your world view. You may come back wiser, smarter, more knowledgeable and more focused.
Based on discussion and research, I think we can agree that working in an American summer camp is challenging, inspiring and life changing work. If that sounds intimidating, it should. Don’t push yourself too hard. It’s the easy things that make life worth living. You can carry on with your weekly pizza nights with Mum and Dad and you will be there waiting to be called up for babysitting duties by your older sister and everyone will talk about how lovely you are for spending all your time in the summer with your little nephews. Plus, you wouldn’t have to miss one episode of Eastenders. Bonus!
You have a choice: 1) Meaningful, Life Changing Adventure 2) Safety Net & Comfort Zone. It’s up to you to make the right choice that will change your life.