During my first gap year I had the absolute incredible pleasure of spending a few months in America working over summer. I applied for Camp America in a fit of pique because I hated living at home with my terrible step father. He isn’t actually terrible and really I should thank him for being grumpy sometimes because it meant I got to spend a summer in the states!
I applied just after the normal deadline but instead of decline me they put me onto a special ‘ready, Steady, Go!’ program which meant I could end up leaving for America at very short notice. It was all a bit of a dream for a few months, my application was sent off and I did the required interview but I honestly didn’t believe I would actually get a place at a camp, especially because I’d applied very impulsively.
But then one Saturday evening, halfway through a 12 hour shift at work, I got an email from a camp in Virginia asking if I could run the drama program for the summer. Of course I had to accept and I snook outside to send an reply saying I would love to go. I swiftly got a reply telling me my flight out to camp would be on Tuesday morning. That’s right, Tuesday, as in two full days away.
My boss had already left for the day so I desperately tried to contact him and I of course told my mother and father that I would be leaving them for a while. I was doing another 12 hour shift on the Sunday so I went in a little early to talk to my boss who was amazing and told me I couldn’t miss an opportunity like this and that when I returned my job would be waiting for me.
So I worked all day Sunday which left me Monday, one day, to sort everything. I had to arrange to be at London Heathrow at 6am for my flight and I had to do shopping and pack for a 3 month trip. That was a crazy day but I pulled through and booked myself onto an overnight coach to London.
This all happened so quickly that it wasn’t until I was sat in Times Square with all my luggage that I realised what was going on. I was shit scared. I was alone in New York with a few hours to kill before my Greyhound down to Virginia. When I arrived in Virginia I’d have to meet with a perfect stranger at silly o’clock in the morning at a gas station and I’d be spending the next 10 weeks looking after kids. What the hell was I thinking applying for this?!
On top of all this my SIM card wasn’t working yet so I desperately tried to find a phone shop to get something so I could at least tell my folks that I was safe. They hadn’t heard from me after all since I got on the plane in London hours earlier. So I found an AT&T to buy a temporary SIM card so I could at least send one text to let them know I was safe. That didn’t work either and American phone plans are expensive! It took so long to get my phone working that my mum had been ringing the camp to see if I was there and of course I wasn’t yet I was in New York. She panics at the Brest of times, I can’t imagine what she was thinking.
I managed to contact camp though and tell them I had arrived in NY and that I would be on the Greyhound as planned to meet them in Exmore, VA. After a long coach trip and a short car ride into Camp Silver Beach in was again silly AM so I snook into a cabin with the other guys and went to bed.
I woke up with them all in the morning but fear got the better of me and I stayed in bed until they had all left. I knew they were heading to the canteen for breakfast so I got ready on my own and slowly made my way over. I can’t really remember what the reaction was when I walked in that first time. Although I do remember people saying they didn’t even realise I was there that morning when they got up.
Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about as everyone at the camp was amazing. I quickly settled in and of course my closest friends became some of the girls.The first week I was there was a training week so we had a few talks on safety and how to deal with the kids and we spent a few afternoons in the sun and enjoying the facilities at camp before it was overrun with children.
I was going to enjoy this.