Mathew Dwyer, our Summer Camp USA coordinator and expert, has done the Summer Camp experience 5 times in total! That makes him a through and through expert on the topic. We’ve learned a lot from him – one of those things being what it takes to partake in the American Camp experience 5 times. Read all about Mat’s camp experience below:
I was lucky enough to go to Summer Camp USA 5 times, and I can tell you that each time at camp was very, very different. The obvious change was between my first and second summers, when the role I had changed. My first summer in the USA I was working as a general counsellor, going around to all of the different activities with the same group of kids, and getting to do all of those activities with them. For my second summer (and all the way to the fifth) I was working as a baseball counsellor, which meant running the baseball activities at camp, teaching all different ages, and both boys and girls. I got the best of both worlds, being able to build great relationships with the boys I was with my first year, and then getting to know everyone else on camp during the remainder of my time there.
On the topic of the boys I was assigned to in my first year, I had the Inter division, which was the 12/13 year old boys. It definitely wasn’t the easiest way to be introduced to Camp Wah-Nee, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! I was also lucky enough to be their counsellor during the entire time I worked at camp, so I got to watch them grow and develop over the time. Being able to spend a couple of months every year with those kids was definitely a big reason why I chose to go back so many times! Those 12/13 year boys that I started with will be second year counsellors this year, which absolutely blows my mind!
The other reason that the camp experience is totally different in your second year (and every year after that) is that you know so much more about camp. During my first summer, I was still learning about how the camp worked, how to best deal with the kids, and how to manage my time at camp properly. Starting with my second summer, I didn’t have to worry about learning that, I could just focus on enjoying my time at camp! You also get a lot more responsibility the more you go back, and will get asked to do more and more when they know you’re capable of it! Going back to the same camp with more responsibility means you are able to negotiate your camp salary too! You also get more respect from the kids and other counsellors as time goes on, and I was even lucky enough to be chosen as an officer in my camp’s Colour War event, a position which is rarely given to international staff!
Going to camp is a life-changing experience, and going more than once just makes that even more true! I was one of those counsellors that after going once, there was never a question of not going back, and I was counting down the days as soon as I got back to Australia. If you have the opportunity to go back to camp, then I would highly recommend it. It really does get better and better the more times that you head back.
Sign up for Summer Camp USA by hitting the button below. If you still have some questions, register your interest for the program and we will get in touch to answer those as best we can!