It was Christmas 1974 when I first decided to apply for the Camp America programme and by January 1975 I had my placement. Life changed forever.
The summer was the most fascinating experience that I could have had at that age and prepared me superbly for my teaching career which has followed.
There can be no better learning experience than living within a culture and discovering new ideas and approaches to coaching and teaching. The team building techniques that you acquire by working with people from other places are immense and doing it within a cultural exchange programme enables quality control, a positive perspective and a safety net of protection and support.
My summer gave me an tremendous insight into motivational skills and communication skills. It enabled me to play a fundamental role in helping young people to surpass their expectations whilst instilling in me a level of self-confidence and self-belief that I never realised I could aspire to.
Whilst my primary reason of undertaking this placement was to learn and experience a new culture, the diversity of my experience came as a huge surprise. I gained an insight into a religious culture that I had only read and been taught about. I became far more aware of how to personalise learning to help develop the skills and talents of each young person. I also learnt the true value that personal best and pushing yourself far outweighed simple participation but that this did not mean that competitiveness at the cost of the welfare of others was a price that had to be paid.
The greatest lesson of my summer at camp was what I brought back to England, that I was able to share my experiences and new found skills with others to improve the quality of provision for young people here.
I lived a dream and have since gone on to recruit many hundreds of other participants who have similarly had wonderful summer experiences which they have used to build their own lives and careers.
Camp life opens up people's horizons and makes them more rounded individuals. I am now the Vice Principal of an Academy and coming towards the twilight time of my career but I know that the success that I have had has its roots into my summer of 1975. It open up doors to me and there is no greater buzz for me now than listening to young people who come back from their summer camp experience and have the same buzz, enthusiasm and zest for life that I had.
Absolutely fantastic and long may it continue. America has something exceptional and special in Summer Camps which they can share with the world. Long may it continue.