Working at a summer camp was something that I have always wanted to do and when I got the opportunity to work at the International Gymnastics Camp in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania last summer I was so unbelievably excited and anxious about the adventure I was about to embark on. I had spoken to several friends who had previously been to summer camps and they had all said it would be the best decision I'd ever make and that there was nothing quite like working at a summer camp and boy were they right.
Any nervousness I felt about being a camp counsellor completely disappeared the minute I arrived at camp as we were made to feel like part of the family straight away and were given intensive training into what to expect as a counsellor and how to deal with any situation which might arise over the course of the summer. The returning staff members were so welcoming and happy to help us with anything we were unsure about and were more than happy to share their previous experiences with us to prepare us for what we might experience also.
The minute I arrived at camp I knew the people around me weren't just going to be a bunch of people I was going to spend my summer with, they were going to be friends that I would keep in touch with for the rest of my life. You don't just spend a summer hanging out with each other, you all grow and develop personally and as a team and that isn't something you can experience anywhere else. I learnt so much from my co-counsellors and will never forget the important values and lessons I learnt from being a member of such an incredible international family. I have spent the last year since returning from camp travelling all over the place visiting some of my fellow camp counsellors and our friendships and relationships are just as strong now as they were last summer at camp.
My experience of being a camp counsellor is still something I struggle to put into words, it really is one of the most unique and rewarding experiences a young adult can have. Being able to help and look after an amazing bunch of children week after week, help them have the best summer possible and watch them grow and develop over their stay at camp was such a humbling experience and really made you feel like you had an impact on that childs life.
I can't imagine what my life would be like without having spent my summer at International Gymnastics Camp. I wouldn't be the same person I am today without the impact of the people I met there, who were from all over the world and will value the lessons I learnt from them and from living in a camp environment for the rest of my life. To think that in the future this expereince won't be open to other young adults is just unthinkable. Being able to work with people from all over the world and experience the American culture on a daily basis, is such an unique and beneficial experience that can only be experienced through cultural exchange programmes. I will be forever grateful for my experience of working at a summer camp and strongly believe this opportunity should be available for young people for many many years to come.