There are a lot of questions about the topic of working at a Special Needs Camp. Some people don’t know what to expect and think it’s not the summer for them. Unsure whether it’s for you? Becky spent her first summer working as Support Staff at the Special Needs Camp Southampton Fresh Air Fund. She is here to talk about her experience working at a Special Needs Camp.
I had never worked with anyone with Special Needs before and I didn’t even have any experience with children. Most camps will fly out their staff before camp starts for a training week. All the training that you need will be provided to get you ready for the summer. If your camp didn’t think you could work with people with Special Needs, they wouldn’t have hired you and we wouldn’t have accepted you to work at a Special Needs Camp!
Everyone who is going to camp for the first time is going to be in the same boat. Before working at a Special Needs Camp, you will all get trained together and soon enough, you will be a pro at the lifting techniques and be able to handle anything that is thrown at you. If you are every worried, there will be returning staff who you can talk to and get some guidance from. Everyone will be supportive! When all the campers arrive, it will be overwhelming, but once you sit down and start speaking with them, you will build a bond with them very quickly.
Every camp is different. No two camps are the same, but we aim to make sure the kids have the best summer possible. At the end of the day, kids are kids and we want each and every kid at camp to have an amazing summer no matter who they are. Each camp has their own quirks and traditions and Special Need Camps are no different! We did Colour War and also planned a Prom. All the campers and staff got dressed up, took lots of photos, and ate LOTS of cake. On the very last night of camp, we did wish boats where each camper would write a wish on a small boat, light a candle, and sail it across the pool. The last campers candle to go out would have their wish come true.
When I spoke to the Camp Directors, I got a very good vibe from them. They were both so lovely and helpful throughout the whole process of getting to camp. I was 18 when I flew out to camp and it was my first time flying on my own, but I was able to meet some of the new staff online before flying out which helped to calm my nerves. Soon after the kids arrived at camp, I realised that working at a Special Needs Camp was the best decision I had ever made. It was an extremely rewarding experience that brought out a completely new side to me. Since you are working with fewer kids, you are able to form stronger bonds with them as they often stay for weeks at a time.
One of my favourite memories from camp was with a camper. He was new to the camp and wrote a little note to say thank you to all of the Counselors and Support Staff in his bunk for helping him settle in and have an amazing time at camp. This experience has changed my outlook on life leading me down a career path aiming to work with sick children in hospitals and I couldn’t be more grateful for the amazing staff I worked alongside. This could be your experience next summer.
If you would like to spend your summer making a difference, apply here.
Capturing the perfect shot while at camp often comes naturally during your stay. However, sometimes you need a little inspiration and a few tips! Make sure to check out our yearly photo competition to be in with the chance of winning some great prizes after camp.
Whether you’re a total beginner or you have mastered the art of photography, you’re bound to get some creative shots. Likewise, you don’t need to shell out on any fancy camera equipment. Your phone will do fine!
Check out our 2019 Photo Competition here!
Capturing the perfect shot often comes at moments you least expect. In other words, don’t force the moment. Forget having fancy lighting and photography equipment, the magic of camp is in the unexpected. Phone cameras can work wonders nowadays and are sometimes even better than a fancy DSLR. If you can’t have your phone on you while working at camp, there’s still plenty of opportunities while travelling as well as on your days off.
You’ve met some great people while on your travels. More importantly, you might want to record your memories with them. A group shot together always brings the memories flooding back. Moreover, you might also want to recreate the shot at your camps reunion! You’ll find that the people make the place and you’ll want to be able to put faces to your memorable summer. A fun group snap at the Golden Gate Bridge or gathered around your camp sign will be a memory you will treasure forever. In addition, you can save on your travelling with Contiki or TrekAmerica!
While at camp there’ll be a whole summer jam-packed of different sports events. From Color War to Camp Olympics, you’ll be representing and competing as a team. You’ll find these events truly capture camps spirit and there’s no better time to snap a shot. You might be covered head to toe in paint and this will be a memory you’ll want to remember! Whether your team won or lost, there won’t be many opportunities to take a picture of a shower of powdered paint back at home.
After Summer Camp comes to an end, you have 30 days of travel time to explore. You don’t have to use the whole 30 days but a good week or two allows you time to travel. You might be the outdoorsy kind and hitting up Americas National Parks. Alternatively, you might be more into your theme parks and heading straight to Florida. You’ll be able to capture some great shots of the outdoors and sometimes even the indoors! There are loads of discoveries to be made while travelling so make sure to capture your best moments.
Do you even have Instagram if you’re not taking a quick pick when you get your meal? While travelling, you’ll discover amazing eateries, food stalls and markets. A cheeky pic with your snack is a great way to document the tasty treats you picked up while in America and will look great on your Insta feed. The food you’ll get while in the states is on another level and you’re going to want to remember the time you ate a burger sandwiched between two doughnuts!
You get 30 days of travel after America and the freedom to go where ever you, but you have one problem. How are you going to get around? With 52 States and a lot of miles in between, getting from a to b can present a few challenges. Worry not as there are plenty of travel options that can help get take you from camp to wherever you want to be! Moreover, there are also great travel packages from our amazing partners over at Contiki and TrekAmerica. They can sort out your travelling needs as well as your accommodation. Score!
You might already be familiar with Megabus, particularly if you are a seasoned traveller. With low-cost bus tickets to over 100 cities, it’s worth checking to see if Megabus can get you where you need. Either way, a quick look at the tickets could enlighten you to explore somewhere new for a low-cost price! Some tickets can start as low as $1! In all, the best way to travel around America is sometimes the cheapest and with Megabus, you get just that.
It’s worth checking whether the city you are in has a metro system. Similar to the tube, the metro can get you around the city very quickly which is often the best way to get around America! New York City is well known for its Subway and there are a handful of other cities that also have similar transportation systems. There are also handy apps as well as Google Maps that can guide you on which line to get for when you are navigating yourself around.
With low fares and a selection of direct routes, Greyhound can help you with your travel around America. There are hundreds of direct routes meaning you get exactly where you need to go. A bus ride across America will take a fair few hours but with free Wi-Fi and individual power outlets on every bus, a few Netflix episodes will help pass the time! Be inspired to explore more places and save money while you do it!
At Summer Camp, you’re bound to make friends for life. Some of these friends will even have cars! It’s worth checking to see if they are travelling after camp and whether you can hitch a ride with them. A road trip with friends is one of the best ways to explore America. If you need more info on planning a summer camp road trip, we have a handy blog post to help you out.
We are lucky to be partnered with great travel brands that can help you explore more. In addition, they can help with how to travel America while making more of your budget. TrekAmerica offers more than 50 unique trips. With a pre-planned trip, you’ll be with an experienced tour guide who can show you the best of what America has to offer. Also, with TrekAmerica your travel and accommodation are included, rolling your trip into one convenient package! Find out more about travelling with TrekAmerica here.
Another great brand we have partnered with is Contiki. Each trip is packed full of must-do experiences as well as your transport being covered door to door. An expert Trip Manager guides your trip from start to finish, allowing you to explore the best America has to offer. With the option to include add-ons with your trip, it’s your travel your way. Make the most of America’s National parks or perhaps see the Golden Gate Bridge. With Contiki, there’s so much to explore. Find out more here.
It’s your first 4th of July in America and every American’s favourite day. It’s time to celebrate the land of the free and the home of the brave and boy are you in for a treat. Red, white and blue are everywhere and you feel like you are in a fresh tube of Colgate toothpaste. You never thought you’d feel so patriotic for a country you’re not from but here you are belting out the National Anthem like you didn’t just learn the words two weeks ago.
There is none stop chanting of “USA, USA, USA!”. Everyone is in red, white and blue. There are stars and stripes literately everywhere. You didn’t realise how patriotic everyone is until today. Everyone is running around waving flags and singing Katy Perry. Independence Day isn’t just a film about aliens? What?! You thought that the bonfire firework display at your local park was a show. Think again. This display is something to rival Londons New Years Eve show. Who knew independence meant bottomless chicken wings? Sign us up!
There is food EVERYWHERE. You’ve gotten accustomed to the food at camp by now including the mad portion sizes. However, you were not prepared for today! You never knew it was possible to arrange burgers and hotdogs into an American flag display but here we are. There are snacks on snacks on snacks and you are ready. The food coma is coming and you welcome it in waves.
There is a lake with your name on it and you have the fear, bad. You’ve been hiding out all day trying to avoid getting thrown into the lake but tradition is tradition. The feeling of knowing that it is coming is the worst and you’re contemplating just throwing yourself in.
You might not be American but today you are an honorary citizen. Everyone else’s buzz for the country has got you swept up in the celebrations and your singing Star Bangled Banner with the rest of them. Today, this land is your land and today this land is my land. Go America!
All your campers have got you absolutely fizzing with excitement. There are fun, games and food everywhere. The only holiday you have to compare is Christmas and this is the Christmas of summer. You’re ready to fly the flag and fly the flag HARD. Why can’t every day be the 4th of July?
It’s been a long old day and you are ready for bed. The whole day has been non-stop and although it’s been enjoyable you are worn out. Who knew Independence was so exhausting?! It’s time to kick your feet up, make a cup of tea and go back to business as usual tomorrow. You’re retiring the red, white and blue for Color War. Until next time Independence Day!