I had no idea aged 17 that the school assembly I was about to attend would shape my life. 28 years on and not a week goes by that I don't have the opportunity to introduce new youngsters to the concept of summer camp, or support them to gain skills which will help them secure a place counselling and have a positive impact on the campers they care for.
In 1986, never having travelled beyond Guide Camp before I was given the chance to share my Guiding skills as a Counselor in the Adirondacks, not on a Girl Scout camp as I expected, but an Orthodox Jewish Camp. From the moment I arrived I was learning and sharing. My campers loved to hear stories from my small hometown, and they in turn taught me about their Jewish Culture and introduced me to Pizza ! ( Yes, I led a sheltered life 'til then )
Back home I have used the activities and leadership skills learnt on camp to run my own Guide unit and organise our annual summer camps. So many of my Guides have gone on to work as International Staff and I share the running of my unit with another girl whose first taste of International travel was as a Counselor on a Girl Scout camp.
My 16 year old daughter has been inspired to work with campers, but way too excited to wait until age 18 she is returning to camp for the 2nd time this summer, with the CIT bunk. She has made many wonderful American friends with whom she talks daily and they in turn will be coming to stay with us in England.
As a local interviewer for Camp America I am now interviewing the children of applicants I interviewed 20 years ago. This Cultural Exchange experience is one that should continue for many generations to come.