I shall be eternally grateful for the opportunity of being able to work for several years on a summer camp in the USA. Cultural exchange has completely transformed my life and, as I have kept in touch with people over the years I know the significant value in bringing this to hundreds of young people attending summer camps each year.
My story began as what was to be a one-off summer camp experience when I was employed to work as a counsellor on a Christian camp. By the end of that 1st season, I made friends for life, learned so much about the ‘real’ America and taught groups of young people formal skills as well as informal facts such as the subtle historical differences between the ‘Black Country’ dialect as opposed to ‘Brummy’!! My camp organised cultural exchange evenings and I can remember supervising a group of interested young people as they learned how to prepare ‘real’ fish and chips–British style for the rest of the camp. I suspect that many of those young people would not have had the opportunity to learn about such hidden history were not for the cultural exchange program!!
I continued to work at camp for several years, became a best man at an American wedding (I am now the eccentric English uncle to 3 American children), and thanks to the experience of working at camp, completely changed career direction. I retrained to become a teacher and then eventually found myself managing child protection services across a busy London local authority.
I am now Assistant Director and I do wonder where I would be today had it not been for the invaluable lessons I learned at camp. Thank you so much for this opportunity USA–I hope it continues so that other people can gain in the way that I have and more importantly the young people attending camp can benefit from the exposure to different cultures and the educational opportunity this brings.