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Jenza Talk / Summer camp

5 things I wish I knew before going to summer camp

Campfires, canoe races, and countless lessons learned - here's the inside scoop on what to know before you go...

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Hi! I’m Victoria, a 25-year-old from England who has spent four incredible summers working at a sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania.

As a bit of a camp connoisseur these days (and so you don’t make the same mistakes I did) – I’ve come up with five things I wish I knew before working at a summer camp.

1. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and nervous.

For me, because I was so excited to work at camp, I felt like I couldn’t be nervous or worried at all. I convinced myself that if I felt nervous, it was because camp wouldn’t be for me, and I was making the wrong decision. But little did I know, the nerves came to everyone, new staff, returners of five years, everyone gets nervous before going to camp and it is completely normal. Those first few days might feel very overwhelming, you have just been thrown into an environment with so many other people, most of whom you probably haven’t met before. Again, remember that it’s totally fine to feel like this, and just know you are never in this alone.

Reach out and confide in someone, whether it’s the head staff at your camp, returning counsellors or a new staff member, explain how you’re feeling and see if they can do anything to help. Coming from someone who has worked four summers at camp and is now part of the head staff team, we want you to succeed and have the time of your life and making you feel comfortable is part of that. So don’t hesitate to ask for help and support if you need it.

2. Get involved

This is probably my biggest tip for everyone when it comes to working at camp. Camp is a very high-energy, fun and crazy place, but you will only get something out of this experience if you put everything in. Dress up for activities, sing at the top of your lungs with your new best friends, and dance like nobody is watching you. The sooner you get involved in everything, the sooner your camp experience can really begin. Don’t be afraid to look silly because everyone is doing the same thing, everyone is there to have fun and let loose.

3. Camp is where you can be your true self.

I wish I knew how much I would change after working at camp, the experience genuinely shaped me to be the person I am today, and I will be forever grateful for that. There will be moments at camp where you stop and think “this is so crazy that I’m even doing this right now” but it’s amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You will grow and change in ways that you didn’t really know that you could, and you’ll also see that growth and change in all the people around you too.

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The camp crew

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Victoria's home from home

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Camp besties for life

Victoria smiles in a grassy field at camp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Whitehouse

Originally from Birmingham in the UK, Victoria got the travel bug good after spending her first summer at camp in Pennsylvania back in 2018. Since then she’s travelled a whole lot, lived abroad in Australia and Bali, gone to summer camp again (many, many times) and is really living her best life. Where you’ll find her: at the beach for sunrise.

"I wish I knew how much I would change after working at camp, the experience genuinely shaped me to be the person I am today"

4. This is a HARD job.

Again, something I didn’t really think too much about before going to camp. From the videos on the websites, all I saw was a good time and I had no idea how hard this job was actually going to be. I always say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love - and I live by this at camp. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but at the same time, it’s also been the most rewarding and enjoyable thing I’ve done. You will feel exhausted sometimes and you might have moments where you want to go home throughout the summer. But just remind yourself why you’re there and keep pushing through and remember to ask for help if you need it. If a 10-minute call home is exactly what you need, let the people around you know so they can help support you (and make it happen).

And just know, that even though it’s one of the hardest things you will do, I guarantee you’ll be sat at home when camp has finished wanting nothing more than to be back there again.

5. You will meet friends for life!

Now before going to camp, I knew I was going to meet some great people, but I had NO idea just how amazing these connections would be. Over the years at camp, I have formed relationships with people that make me think “How have I lived so long without you” and that is the beauty of camp. It puts so many like-minded individuals in the same place and allows them to form these incredible friendships. I still talk to my best friends that I made at camp five years ago, and having the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world, is something I will cherish forever.

Ready to make s'mores with your new besties, sing around the campfire, swap friendship bracelets and have one of the most fun and rewarding summers yet? We thought so. Head to our JENZA Camp page or speak to a Camp Expert for all the info and how to apply.
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Victoria smiles in a grassy field at camp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Whitehouse

Originally from Birmingham in the UK, Victoria got the travel bug good after spending her first summer at camp in Pennsylvania back in 2018. Since then she’s travelled a whole lot, lived abroad in Australia and Bali, gone to summer camp again (many, many times) and is really living her best life. Where you’ll find her: at the beach for sunrise.

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