Working and travelling the US for three months was a dream come true. I truly felt like I was living my best-American-movie-life. But, not everything was as straight forward as it seemed. I’m here to share all the things I wish I’d known before heading across the pond.
The easiest way to secure a summer camp job is to go through an agency. However, don’t feel like you have to go with the biggest name out there. Do your research, out way the pros and cons. Remember, everyone’s priorities are different! Do you want to pay a little extra, but have somebody else sort everything out for you? Or do you want to organise your own travel, but maybe save some cash? Think about these sorts of things when looking around.
Another thing to factor in when you’re considering working on a US Summer Camp is the hidden costs most agencies require. Things such as your DBS, Medical Form and Embassy Appointment aren’t clearly outlined in the breakdown of costs, and they very quickly add up. Don’t get caught out!
Let me be real, they call it pocket money for a reason! By the time you pay all of the costs for going out there, you pretty much just break even at the end of the Summer. Or you could be like me and spend all your wages on travelling and become even more broke (oops). But you gain so much more than a higher bank balance could ever offer you. You get to experience American culture at its finest, learn new skills, travel to new places, make so many new friends and best of all, truly make a difference in a child’s life. This Summer will be something I talk about for the rest of my life! But be prepared to come back with not a lot to show for it other than amazing photos and some tacky souvenirs.
In the US not only are their laws different to ours, but their laws are even different within their own country! I lived on the East Coast and at the end of Camp travelled to the West Coast, and definitely noticed a difference between the two. Make sure you read up about what you’re doing over there. I found it particularly helpful to do my research before I left, here you can find lots of useful info direct from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa.
Physically, working on a Camp can be exhausting. You’re looking after so many little kids, in blistering heat and having to put in 100% enthusiasm all of the time. But you can’t do your job if you burn out! So rest when you can, drink lots of water and make use of the on-site medical care – you don’t want to end up with a hefty bill from the local hospital! Mentally, camp can also be a struggle. The camp I worked at was for underprivileged girls, and some of the stories we heard and things we had to deal with were really hard hitting. But I had a great support system and knew who to go to and when. I don’t think I could have lasted without them, so make sure you find yours!