My name is Sophie, and I am working towards a degree in BA American Studies.
In the Summer of 2016, I took part in the Camp America exchange programme. I worked on a Girl Scout camp (Camp Favorite) for 8 weeks in Massachusetts, America. For the first half of the summer, I was a general counsellor; I supported the girls through their time at camp and arranged a fun programme for them. The second half of the summer, I became the Counsellor in Training director; I led a 3-week leadership programme for 15-16 year olds so they could gain insight of what it felt like to work at camp.
One of the initial barriers to taking this opportunity was getting placed. Camp America as an organisation has a great record for placement, and is one of the longest running exchange programmes. I got placed after attending a recruitment fair so this barrier soon disappeared. The cost of going to camp and living in America with people I’d never met made me a little hesitant, but in the long run there was nothing to worry about.
I was fortunate enough to gain support for the costs to Camp America from the CareerCentral Employability Fund, without this support my experience would not have been the same. I am so grateful for the support I received through the fund. If anyone is interested, have a look on the CareerCentral website.
The most challenging part of my experience was getting on a plane and being completely independent in a country I’d never visited before, 7 hours from home. Being an American Studies student encouraged me to delve into the American culture. Once I had arrived, I felt so welcome and excited to be there.
Personally, the most rewarding part of working in America was running the leadership programme towards the year of the summer. I have also gained amazing friends for life, who I have visited since, both in the UK and in America. At the end of my time at camp, I could travel on my J1 visa, so I explored the east coast which was an amazing experience.
I took away new skills: communication, resilience, leadership and so much more. I plan to work with young people after I graduate, either teaching or social work potentially. My experience at camp has opened my eyes to what I can do after finishing my degree, and I am certain that having worked abroad will allow me to stand apart from other candidates in interviews.
I loved experiencing American culture; getting to spend the 4th July in the States was so much fun. One of my favourite memories is my leadership residential with my 15-16 year old girls, where we went to a high ropes centre, Ramble Wild, and the girls really challenged and pushed themselves to achieve as much as possible.
My experience at Camp America last summer was incredible. I have gained cultural awareness, and furthered my degree through the exchange, and I plan to write my dissertation next year on the Girl Scouts because of working at camp. Anyone considering working abroad, whether it be camp or an internship, you will gain so much to take away from the experience.