Last summer Jamal Richardson, a student from St. Mary’s University in the UK, traveled to Pennsylvania to participate in the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program. We asked him to reflect on his experience at camp, and will be featuring several posts. This story originally appeared on the IST Plus website.
Tell us about the start of your summer in the U.S.
The Orientation week is great fun at camp! At times it can be very nerve-wracking as you’re in somewhere completely new and you meet a whole load of new faces in a very short space of time. But the orientation week helps you find your footing and get to know all these wonderful faces and make friends very quickly, friends that you become very close to. The training itself is also very useful for working in a camp, having done both waterfront training and counselor training, it does help you prepare for the summer ahead. It also helps that orientation is done by previous counsellors, so they are well aware of how you are feeling prior to the kids arriving!
The night before the kids arrive there are so many mixed emotions! This is the part that you have signed up for, but at the same time it can get you nervous because you’re hoping the kids will be nice as you will be with them all summer, as well as you hoping that you can make the summer unforgettable! However, once you see the excited kids, some who are new, some who have been to camp before, you realize how special camp is for the kids and that you really want to make this summer better for them than the last one. They will look up to you as a role model, copy what you do, how you talk, they will try to be like you in every way!
What was your camp like?
The Camp was located in the middle of nowhere. The location was amazing for that reason. The nearest town was a small town, with a few shops, a breakfast place, a bar and a Walmart. But that made it all the better. You were away from cities and home comforts for 9 weeks, and on days off the camp organizes you to go to different places to see places. So through the summer you can find yourself chilling by a river, or jumping off high rocks into lakes, both which are great fun.
The housing was exactly what you would think it would be from the movies, it is bunkbeds inside of cabins! The cabins during orientation are also extremely social as you live in them with a group of people your age. Once the kids come in and you start living with kids it’s also great fun, and not a major worry about not getting your beauty sleep.
The scenery is the most amazing part of camp also! Sunsets away from the city, where you can actually see the sunset is the most beautiful thing ever! Being able to look up at night and see so many stars is also something that made the camp amazing, since we were so far away from towering buildings and cities, there was absolutely no light pollution. Nothings more relaxing than being down the waterfront after work has finished and stargazing with your friends while chatting!