12 Things I learnt at an American Summer Camp

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I loved working in America this summer and I’m going to be writing all about my experience with Camp America and many other camp related posts too. I wanted to start my camp blogs off with a fun one and talk about all the things I learnt about America whilst there. Experiencing another culture is one of the reasons I love to travel so getting to work with children in this environment was a really special way to get to do that. 


Below are 12 things that I learnt whilst working at an American summer camp. These are of course, from the kids I worked with so are not to be taken too seriously.


American kids really think British people know / are related to the Queen

I don’t think they watch a lot of British TV but some of them did know Made in Chelsea and also watch Love Island. The land of British celebrity is pretty bleak in the face of Americans who go to school with Instagram models but it’s still fun all the same to say you’ve met Prince Harry. (I heard at least three British girls telling kids this and it was hilarious).

Your first, second and third s’mores will be awful

Apparently, camp kids come out the womb brandishing a stick with a marshmallow attached to it, they are that good but, having never made a s’more before in my life, I can say I pretty much sucked at it. And the next one, and the next and maybe the one after that. But it got better, and the kids found it hilarious and were happy to help me. They made them with graham crackers and Hershey chocolate and also seemed to melt the marshmallow just right.


The 4th of July is bigger than Christmas

You do not mess with the 4th July preparations. Also if you’re an international working at camp, it’s best to stand back and let America take control. The outfits, the decorations, the food, the music, everything about 4th July is amazing to watch. It was a crazy day and one that will always be one of my favourites from camp. 


Dunkin Doughnuts is a treat and in fact Sugar with a capital S is a currency of its own kind

The kids get a special “canteen” night where they can pick sweets and they approach it with the same reverence as an adult would choosing a name for their first child. They will consult others and trade canteen for favours. The nearby Dunkin Doughnuts becomes a haven for counsellors to buy a caffeine rich drink and sugary doughnut to propel them through the evening.


If you can do French plaits (braids), people will pay you, (in sweets) to do their braids

Just don’t tell people, forget the skill and don’t ever mention it! Unless you want to be spending your evenings braiding hair, it’s best not to let anyone know. There were a lot of braids around camp so I think a fair few people are happy to share the braiding love.

American kids can make up a song about anything

Genuinely anything. Also songs that don’t make sense but have been sung for years are amazing. Lyrics don’t matter as long as it rhymes and can be sung / screamed / clapped to / stamped to, as plates of mac and cheese go flying.


Crocs are the summer shoe of the season, and by that I mean every summer season

The more gibbets you have the better, a little plastic thing that sticks into them, (not to be confused with the wibbet which is the giant inflatable on the camp lake). If you don’t have crocs, you aren’t cool, end of. For the record I was not cool.


American kids are competitive 

They are super achieving kids full of energy that will do anything to win. Defeat is not an option and I love how stubborn some of them got over the most amazing things. The easiest way to get a whole group of kids excited about something was to make it a competition. This also came in handy for the camp colour war days that took place.


Staff camp tops are worth keeping hold of

By the end of camp you should have acquired (and lost) a few. You’re one of the cool kids if you have vintage camp tops from years beforeand you’re even more cool if you have a top from the boys camp (oo). 

The rituals of camp are of the utmost importance 

You do not mess with the camp rituals. Whether that be old timers ceremony, the American VS International soccer game, or many more, they are sacred! These kids love every day at camp because everyday has the potential to be the best day of camp. The rituals and celebrations that they take part in every year, are looked forward to for months. Preparations such as outfit planning, jewellery making and co-ordinated hair styles are just as important and it’s really sweet to see a group of kids wearing matching tops made for them.


You’re not cool unless you’ve made your own anklet / bracelet / choker

Arts and crafts is THE place to be seen to learn how to do the best plaits, braids and knots in bits of string so you can wear them around whatever body part fits. Worn in the lake, in the swimming pool, on the canoe trip and many other places, camp is the best place to show off your skills and create something that will always remind you of camp. 

It will be the best summer of your life

Having spent ten weeks in Pennsylvania, coming to terms with everything that makes camp… well camp, it’s pretty hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there. Which is why it makes it pretty easy for me to recommend a summer season in America for anyone who is interested in spending time in the US and wants to experience life at a summer camp. If you’re interested in applying for the summer of 2020, have a look at Camp America’s website for more information. Also keep an eye on my blog, (you can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram), as I’ll be posting a lot more thoughts that I’ve had over my time in America. 

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what i learnt at american summer camp

what i learnt at american summer camp

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Hey, I'm Gabriella

I post once a week covering topics such as solo travel, working and living abroad and also creating Gabriella’s Guides to places I have been. I cover topics under the following categories such as Planning and Packing, The Travel Diary, Travel Inspiration, Photo Diaries, Gabriella’s Guides and Working Abroad.

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