All camps are different and timings may change depending on your camp’s schedule but here is a typical day working at a USA Summer Camp.
So you have decided to work at a USA summer camp, whether with Camp America or another company, and you are getting yourself physically and mentally prepared. All camps are different but generally, they have a similar routine for the day. All camps will have time to eat three times a day, you will have sessions to lead or accompany your group of kids to and you will have some down time too. Some camps have children for just a week, some are day camps and others have children for multiple weeks at a time. Either way, you need to know what to expect before you go to a USA Summer Camp.
6.30 am – Polar Bear Swim
This was optional at our camp but you could choose to get up early and jump into the sea for an early morning swim. Some children will love this and you will likely take it in turns with people in your cabin to accompany the kids to the water or pool.
7 am – Up and get ready
7.30 am – Breakfast
Breakfast is usually busy and rushed time of the day. Most camps will offer cereal and one or two hot dishes; for example, eggs and pancakes, waffles and bacon and so on.
9 am – 12 pm – Activities and time off
During the morning, the children had a range of activities to try out with different instructors. These include lots of different fields and water sports, leadership skills and Arts and Crafts. As a drama instructor, this was the time I had off from the children every day. I would usually spend this time having a hot shower without the children around, preparing things for my afternoon drama session and catching up with my husband (then boyfriend) on the Camp computers in the office.
12 pm – Lunch
This consisted of potato tots, occasionally burgers or hot dogs and a salad bar. I always rushed my group of young teens to the lunch hall as salad went quickly and a lot of the girls in my cabin didn’t like eating too much meat!
1 pm – 2 pm – Siesta!
This was the favourite time of the day for the majority of the girls in our cabin. If you are in a cabin with the younger ones, you often have to arrange a calming activity but with our group of 13/14-year-olds, it often becomes a relaxed, ‘making friendship bracelets’ and ‘practise random musical instruments’ session.
This was the time the camp counsellors could catch up and be silly before we got back to teaching!
2 pm – 5 pm – Group activities
The children chose between Expressive Arts, ECO, Outdoor life, Athletics or water sports and head off with the leaders of these activities. As a Drama instructor, I worked with the dance, music, art and photography leaders to create a weekly performance ready for Friday Afternoon. Inside space is limited on camp so we often found room on the field or on the beach to practise.
5 pm – Dinner
Day campers leave at this time and you take your cabin down to dinner. This can range from chicken and veg to burritos, noodles to pizza. On Fridays, there was a whole camp BBQ outside, which was a great way to round off a fun week at summer camp – children at this particular camp arrived on a Sunday and went home the following Saturday.
6 pm – 6.30 pm – Cabin time
This is the time when children can freshen up a bit and rest after a long day of activities before a few evening activities to finish the day.
6.30 pm – 9.30 pm – Evening Activities
This obviously changes from day to day, camp to camp but the evening is generally used for group activities to build morale and teamwork. Campfire songs, talent shows, group games, Counsellor hunts, group yoga, sand sculpture competitions and a weekly dance are just a few things that occur during the evenings at Camp.
As a Counsellor, this is also the time you may have off! At the camp I worked at, staff had either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday evenings off; meaning they could either stay on campus but be away from the kids from 6 pm until 11 pm or they could leave the camp and be back for 11 pm. On my time off, a fellow counsellor and I use to either/and: order pizza and watch a movie, catch up with our better halves back in England or head out to a local restaurant with others who had the evening off.
10 pm – Lights out.
All Campers and Counsellors head to bed and get some sleep before another fun day at camp!