Once you’ve decided to take a year out it can be hard to actually decide what to do with that year. If like most you start off your gap year with no money and need to work half of it before you have a decent amount to travel then Camp America might be for you. The costs are minimal and it’s basically a free ticket to travelling in America, Canada and even Mexico once camp is finished. Alternatively this is something you can pack in to a summer while at university, but then your travelling time and budget after camp will be limited. Camp for me was something affordable after spending time volunteering during the first part of my gap year, I was broke and desperate to escape the UK again.
Five Reasons You Should Include Camp America on Your Gap Year
You can travel America after camp
When you head off to camp you do so on an exchange visa, this allows you to be paid for the work you do at camp but also to stay for a while after camp (it seems you have four months in total on the visa, but I’m not 100% sure). Your flights have already been paid for back to the UK so you don’t have to worry about that cost and can spend your money seeing the sights of the USA or even Canada like I did while at camp. It is likely you will build enough contacts at camp to bag places to stay, while you travel with your new found camp friends. I would suggest not booking any travel for after camp until you are actually at camp. This way you can be as open to suggestions and join in with trips your friends are planning.
You’ll have the BEST days off
If you think you’ll go to camp and see nothing but the inside of camp for two months then you are quite wrong. The best days we had at camp were those days off where we rented a condo, had a big red cup party and then spend the next day eating our weight in American food to cure the hangover. That wasn’t the only thing we did on days off though, most of the American counsellors had cars so we would pile in these and head off for an adventure, this even included a music festival. Returning counsellors new the best things to do and places to stay, so we’d let them take the lead in organising our time off. We used to head out in big groups which made it more affordable but also so much more fun.
You’ll get to join in with all the awesome camp activities
The typical American summer camp is set on a lake and offers a handful of different activities on the water let alone all of the land based activities. Some camps will even have a stables for horse riding – that’s where I worked during my summer at camp. During the summer I taught several of the counsellors to ride as well as the kids and in turn I got to go out on lake. It wasn’t just the everyday activities that we got to try. As a counsellor you were expected to be as involved as the kids during all ‘special’ days and evening activities. This involvement included making up skits and performing in ridiculous outfits to the rest of camp.
You’ll will make some amazing friends
As much as you go to camp to work with kids and look after them for the summer, you also go to make friends with all of your co-counsellors. These will hail from all over America, Europe and possibly even Australia or New Zealand and will all be there to have an awesome summer. By the end of week one it will feel like you have known each other for months because you’ll be spending everyday, all day with your co-workers. You may even meet your boyfriend at camp, it seems a hive for romance and relationships. I met my boyfriend (of nearly four years) at camp and have many other friends now engaged who met that summer. Plus who else are you gonna have ‘this one time at camp’ conversations with when the summer is all over.
It is affordable
Travelling is expensive, everyone knows that but when a camp package includes your accommodation, food and flights that suddenly makes camp seem very affordable. Not to mention that when you actually get there you will receive pay checks for all your hard work and possibly even bonuses – like many people did at our camp. During camp the only money you NEED is for those legendary days off but lets be honest you’ll need some spending money for all those trips to Walmart. Camp packages start at £549 with Bunac which includes flights, on top of this you would just need a police check (£30-60) and you visa ($160).
Camp isn’t just for people who want to become a teacher or have experience looking after children. There are so many ways to get involved in camp and you can utilise skills you already have as well as build new ones whilst there (great for the CV). I had an amazing summer at Camp Walden in northern Michigan and then spent five weeks travelling in the States and Canada. I made some of the best friends and dream of returning every year. It really is a magical place to spend a summer and I could never really compare it to any other travelling I’ve done.