volunteering

5 Reasons why you should work at a Summer Camp!

By: Mary Johnson

I admit I was once a cynic amongst the converted… Those tanned, cheerful folk, returning rejuvenated from THE ‘best summer ever’. However, after experiencing it all first hand, I can truly say that spending my summer as a camp counsellor was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So, if you’re still sitting on that white picket fence about it, trying to decide whether or not committing to a summer State-side is for you, let me give you a few reasons and a gentle shove in the right direction…

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1. The Friendships

Without a doubt, the bonds you make at camp are unique. Complete strangers become your colleagues, your room mates and your confidants, all in the space of orientation week. You see each other at your best and your worst; first thing at breakfast as you race to the granola bar, to last thing at night before you close your eyes, agreeing that the fan must definitely stay on. It’s like an impossible recipe for friendship to get wrong!

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The kids aren’t such bad company either!

 2. It will be Beautiful!

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Most camps are situated in some of the most stunning, well preserved locations in the country. As a sailing counsellor, I got to enjoy the crystal clear spring-fed lake that we were so fortunate to call our waterfront. N.B. Free up that iCloud storage in preparation for the hundreds of photos you will no doubt take of everything around you…

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The commute to work – It’s no M6 but it’ll do

 3. It’s Pretty Straightforward

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One of the things that really appealed to me when applying, was the seamlessness of the application process. There’s a great range of recruitment companies out there, ready and eager to get you employed (and take a cut of your earnings…) That said, if you’re in it for the money and less so for the experience, you may want to rethink your summer plans! #notfo’golddiggas I personally went through Camp America and found their VISA and staff application processes really straightforward.

4. FOOD

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In most cases, 90% of the food you have is lovingly made on site by your camp’s kitchen staff. However, the rest of your culinary decisions are at your full discretion on days and evenings off and depending on the local eatery scene, the possibilities can be endless… Think ice-cream huts serving virtually every flavour under the sun and endless ‘soda’ refills on trips to the cinema! *Bumps up health insurance in preparation of type 2 diabetes*

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The Maine event: lobster

 5. The Authentic American Experience

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Before coming to camp, I had never stepped foot on American soil (bar the embassy) and I can’t think of a better way to have first experienced it! From the amazing welcome I received and the total immersion in all things American, including late night Walmart trips and Fourth of July fireworks, to my after camp travels along the East Coast, it was all amazing!

 My only regret is not doing it sooner!

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Land ahoy! Next stop, Camp 2017!

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Volunteering in Rwanda

By James Waterfield

Volunteering is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in other cultures, meet people, make new friends and most importantly- change lives. Last summer I spent a month in Rwanda teaching with the Debate Mate charity and I couldn’t recommend it more! Below you’ll find out what my typical week of volunteering looked like.

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday

The first three days of the week were dedicated to teaching kids debating skills to prepare them for an upcoming competition.  Each volunteer was in charge of a specific school,
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students. Teaching brought many new challenges, for instance, in each class there was a range of both age and ability, and in most schools, the limited English left a sea of smiling and nodding heads. This was however a fantastic opportunity to learn some Kinyarwandan phrases, such as ‘Do you understand?’ and ‘Are you listening to me?’ As the days went by, I seemed to adjust well and I was very proud of the progress that my students made.

We taught every day from 7:30 am until 13:00 pm. Having the second half of the day off gave us an opportunity to explore Rwanda. We used this time to visit the local farming villages, art galleries, women centres and memorials. One of the most memorable visits was to the Niyo Art gallery, where we learned a traditional Rwandan dance and drumming from local kids. In return, we taught them some of our Debate Mate games which received a very positive reaction.

Thursday

Competition day! This was the day we put on our tailored suits that we bought earlier in James Rwanda2.jpgthe week. We were excited to give the students the day that they deserved. The day was full
of emotions; while there was an overall sense of competitiveness, the kids were laughing
and cheering on their teammates. The schools debated on issues such as education, transport, exams and voting rights. It was amazing to see how passionate the students were, even though for some, English was their  second or third language. It was incredible to observe the students I’ve worked with in the past weeks and see their excitement and determination to learn.

Friday & The Weekend

The weekend was a time for exploring Rwanda. Activities included: a safari in Akagera National Park and a trip to Lake Gisenyi.  For locals, Saturday was when everyone would take a pause on their daily life and engage in Umuganda – community service. This involved cleaning the streets, forests, and fields. With the friends we made at the Niyo Art Gallery, we came together  to clean out the drainage systems. A tiring few hours of work was finished off by an invitation to the village meeting. This was a very special moment for all of us as this meant we were accepted into the local community and recognized for our help.

As I now look back on my time in Rwanda, I think back to my students,  the people we met  and the multitude of friendships that I formed. Volunteering in Rwanda truly influenced my worldview and made me appreciate the work similar charities do for local communities. This is an incredible opportunity to help others while also discovering the world for myself. I will always be proud of the work my colleagues and I accomplished in Rwanda and I encourage others to do the same.

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Time to plan big!

A new year brings about a sense of a fresh start, an opportunity to improve upon the accomplishments of the year gone by. And through university especially opportunities to make use of free time during summer and winter breaks are abundant and should be taken advantage off by students looking to stand out from the crowd.

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“Don’t be afraid to set targets and goals both in your chosen degree and general university life. “

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