Well I knew that I wanted to get out of Dublin for the summer. I love to travel, and I love working with kids. I was 19 and had just finished my first year of college when I went for my first summer at camp and had been working with kids in some capacity (mostly coaching) since I was 16, so I felt that this program was perfect for me! The more research I did the more I fell in love with the idea of spending a summer in America at camp. I went over as a sports coach, mainly basketball and football and as a lifeguard and swim instructor. Once camp started, I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to do what I love. I mean running a basketball lesson or lifeguarding by the pool in the sunshine in a beautiful area of Connecticut isn’t exactly a tough gig, put a wage on top of that and you’re living the dream!
I booked on to the program through USIT’s website and the camp team took things from there, I went through a short interview process where I gave them my experience working with kids, my want for participating in the program and a few other bits. After that, I attended one of the Dublin hiring fairs in January. I was fully prepped by the camp team before I went in and was even given some suggestions about which camps, I should interview based on my skillset. Despite the slight nerves I ended up getting hired after my first interview and it was the camp that had been suggested to me by the camp team, without realising it, I left that hotel function room having taken the first steps to the next three years of my life. All in all, the application process could not have been smoother, the camp team at USIT guided me through the whole thing. The application itself while a bit long, was very clear and straightforward, any questions I had were quickly answered and when the time came for my embassy appointment I was given a step by step instruction guide on how to do this which was very helpful as it can be a bit of a daunting process your first time.
I went to Camp Sloane YMCA, which is located about 2 hours away from New York City.
Sloane is situated by the Berkshire mountains on lake Wononpakook, so is very picturesque and an amazing place to work for anyone who loves the outdoors. The sunrises on the lake are well worth getting up early for and the hiking trails are an amazing way to spend a day off. The camp itself is over 270 acres and is split into two camps, boys camp and girls camp. The boys having the slight advantage of being at the bottom of the hill and right beside the lake. The first thing you will notice when you drive the gates of Sloane is the huge climbing tower and zipline that is right next to one of our sports fields. Sloane has a range of facilities so there’s something for everyone, one of the first things you will see is our athletics department with the basketball and tennis courts as well as the soccer fields. We also have creative arts and performing arts at the top of the hill, where the campers get to create a set and then perform a full musical right in the middle of the summer. Down by the lake is where I found all the fun to be. Here all the water sports took place, so the swim lessons, rowing, canoeing, and kayaking. If these activities Didn’t interest, you could always have a go on the water-ski boat or if you were looking for something a bit more relaxing then you could go for a sail across the lake.
My favourite thing about working at camp was the people that I got to meet. The relationships that I got to form with my campers were amazing! Watching these kids grow over the summer was an incredible experience, even better than this was getting to return to camp for 3 summers and seeing this kids year after year. One of the best experiences I had with this was during my first year I had an amazing group of kids, but there were two lads in particular that stood out. I got to watch these lads grow during my first and second summer as campers and then for my third summer at Sloane these two lads ended up being my counsellors. Forming a relationship with these two boys as campers were amazing but then getting to have them as part of my staff brought it to a whole new level.
Not only were the campers amazing but so were the staff. At my camp 50% of the staff were international, so I had the chance over my 3 summers to meet people from all over the world. I made some of my best friends at camp and these are people that I only get to see for 3 months out of the year. While working at camp you meet like-minded people who are all there to pursue a common passion.
Like I mentioned above, I was privileged to meet some of the most amazing people over my 3 years at camp. I learned so much from both the campers and staff members. I got to see some kids transition from camper to staff member which was amazing and also got to meet some of my now closest friends. Everyone I met at camp has impacted my life in some way. I learned so much a camp and I was able to bring these things back to my life at home. From a professional point of view, having camp on a CV looks amazing, because I went over as a sports coach, I was able to improve my coaching style and techniques and so was able to apply that in my coaching roles back home. Personally camp did a lot for me in terms of my development, I am now a lot more confident in my abilities, because I went to camp by myself I feel that I have gained a lot of independence, and my ability to problem solve and think on my feet have become some of my valuable assets. I loved camp so much that I have now turned it into my full-time job, so I feel that that tells you everything you need to know.
Head over to our website to start booking your spot in camp and start your story today!