In the summer of 2011, I was going on yet another family holiday to a European country, being encouraged by my parents to soak up the culture. What that made me realise, at the age of 17, was that I wanted to experience another culture more deeply, not just to scrap the surface on a mere two week holiday. This marks the start of my life changing summer at summer camp in America, which wouldn't be possible should reforms happen.
It was September 2011 that I applied for Camp America, and by January 2012, with the help of the London Recruitment Fair, I was placed at what was the perfect camp for me. A small camp, with less than 50 staff, it truly turned out to be the best thing I've ever done and made me who I am now - a more outgoing, confident and enthusiastic person.
Landing in Boston last summer, I was a sheltered girl from a quaint English village, with no true experience of anything else. Leaving JFK Airport 10 weeks later, I was a different person, yet still retaining who I was. Camp helped me in so many ways, not only breaking me out of my shell but allowing me to make friendships that will be long lasting and true with people from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures. The enriching and unique experience that I had should not be unduly taken away from the many people like me who want to experience something different and to grow and gain from it.
To be a part of something so different, a cultural exchange gives you more than can be put into words. To take this away would be wrong, for the many people that go to America with a pre-placed job at a respected summer camp. I myself have every intention of returning to my summer camp next summer to relive and gain more memories and friends and to further connect to another culture, which only spending an extended amount of time can do. To not be able to do this because of reforms is not something I wish to think about.
To penalise providers of true, unique cultural exchanges would be unjust and to place sanctions on the good for a few unfortunate incidents would be negative to something that gives many an exceptionally unique and special experience.