Since June I’ve embarked on the biggest adventure of my life so far, and I’m hoping this post and those that follow will help a lot of people out there to make up their mind on whether to do a summer camp in the States.
I’m going to split these posts into a few sections:
- Applying for American summer camp: the process
- Settling into camp life and what to expect
- A reflection post-camp
For lots of people out there, travelling is perhaps second nature and the thought of spending a few months away from home is easy and comfortable.
For me the prospect of travelling alone was exciting and new, but also terrifying. My University course offered a year abroad scheme which I very nearly signed up to, before I backed out at the last minute.
So that’s when I decided to do what was in my opinion, the next best thing: summer camp in America.
I’ve known a few people who have done it, and it was only for a couple of months. It seemed like a pretty good way to test the waters of my longing to explore and experience adventure.
As many of you know I’m a student, and about to embark on my third and final year of my degree, I wanted to spend my summer productively and really make the most of my last few months of freedom.
I spent weeks researching and comparing different camps, different agencies and different costs, before settling on USA Summer Camp. To me, they were slightly cheaper than other agencies whilst still offering the same service.
I’ll be doing a post on the application process and further posts on actual camp life, because when I was trying to do detailed research about what I should expect from camp I found very little!
After a jobs fair, interview, and quite a lengthy application process to sort out all of the legal elements, I was soon on a plane to New York!!! Having never caught a plane alone before (I’m 20 I know what you’re thinking!) it was quite nerve-wracking. I’ve also never been on a long haul flight before: my longest was probably Turkey about 7 years ago, and even then it was only 4 hours.
Surprisingly the flight went by quickly, and the food lover that I am was very happy to have multiple meals brought to me! 7 and a half hours later, I touched down in JFK and my American adventure begun!
Whilst queuing in the airport to go through security, I found two other girls who by some chance were going to the same camp as me, and also staying in the same hostel! We got food together, and went on to be good friends for the entirety of camp! I do believe that some things are meant to be.
And the very day after we arrived, we walked around Central Park before catching the camp bus and for me, it was so surreal just being there! If you’ve never been to Central Park it’s unlike anywhere else!
To begin, it’s so huge! There are so many different spaces and lakes and ponds and statues and hidden gems, it feels like you find something around every corner. It’s so tranquil, despite being in the centre of Manhattan, and whilst it feels fresh, you only have to look up to notice that the entire park is surrounded by the concrete jungle of New York. It’s beautiful!
We spent so long there we ended up speedwalking back to the hostel just so we didn’t miss the camp bus! And just like that we were whisked away again, two and a half miles upstate and it was the start my new adventure!
Arriving was weird, scary and exciting all in one go. We had so much information given to us, so much to remember to do, so many people to meet, and of course seeing our next two months accommodation for the first time!
Compared to what I was imagining, our bunks were cute, small with little privacy, but definitely cute. I was so lucky that the view from our porch was the lake and the pool, and I appreciated that girls campus had such a communal feel.
That first night the camp took us to Walmart to pick up essentials, and I’d done so much travelling that I really couldn’t appreciate Walmart (we don’t have it in the UK so it was definitely a new experience) and I couldn’t wait to go to bed.
That first night was tougher than I expected, I think it had suddenly set in that I was there for the summer, and that all of the people I’d seen around would become my family for the summer. I was incredibly excited but also the nervousness which I’d so far avoided had begun to set in.
And just like that my summer had begun…