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.
Working out how to travel on a budget after camp can be quite the task. After camp, you want your earnings to stretch as far as possible. Budgeting your money doesn’t mean you have to skimp on your travel experience. Read on to discover more on how to travel on a budget!
Travelling as a group is not for everyone. However, avoiding going solo means that there are more people to spread the cost. Figuring out how to budget while you travel can be a lot easier with a group’s combined brainpower! Perhaps someone knows a great deal or a cheap place to stay. You might even get money off as part of a group discount when booking accommodation or tours. As well as activities and places to stay, if you decide to go down the Airbnb route, cooking as a group will save you money on eating out. A little compromise when travelling with friends goes a long way which could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. Be flexible with your travel group and your travel budget is bound to go further!
While there is a lot of international staff at camp there are also a whole heap of American staff! You’ll be making friends left right and centre. While it can be comforting to make friends from home don’t neglect the opportunity to expand your friendship group beyond your own shores. Who best to show you the hidden hot spots than someone who is from that place? In addition, you could even be offered to stay at their home. There’s not much better for your budget than FREE!
Before and during camp, keep an eye out for any travel deals you can cash in on. We offer discounts on amazing travel packages with Contiki and TrekAmerica. If you’re a student, you may want to see if you can bag student discount on your travel or accommodation too. Alongside this, any food vouchers you pick up on the way will also be useful! If you plan on visiting any theme parks, make sure to check online to see if a combined ticket will save you money. You might also get a great deal to enter more than one theme park!
Save money on both your longer and shorter journeys by utilising public transport. Flights and trains can eat up a lot of your budget and you’d be surprised how much money you can save by getting the bus or using the metro. In addition, Uber’s will VERY quickly add up and leave a burning hole in your pocket. In some cities, you may also be able to get a group travel ticket on some modes of transport which will save you additional spends.
Hotels can very often be the biggest expense of your trip. Yes, some sites can give you the best deals on hotels but have you thought of alternative accommodation? The word ‘hostels’ can bring up thoughts of dark, dingy and dirty spaces but you’d be very surprised at how they have changed. Do your research and check out hostels in the locations you will be staying. The majority of hostels we have come across while on our travels after camp has been modern spaces with a surprising amount of privacy. If you’re staying in a larger group you can also book out a whole dorm in most hostels meaning it would be just you and your friends. Hostelworld is a great database of hostels all across the world with user reviews! If hostels are 100% not your thing, check out Airbnb. Often cheaper than a hotel and you can choose whether to rent out the whole space or just a room. Your host may even be able to suggest some great places to visit while you are passing by.
Each year, USA Summer Camp holds a photo competition searching for that perfect photo that represents how amazing summer in America really is. Whether it’s images from travel or camp, we get hundreds of photos rolling in with spectacular scenery photographs of the Grand Canyon to 1000000 images capturing the beautiful camp sunsets. Trust us, after seeing all the pictures of our applicants having the time of their lives, it made every person in the office this summer get extreme Summer Camp FOMO. It was HORRIBLE, but we fought on and after some hard consideration, we picked our favourite photographs and the winners!
In 3rd place – Molly Nelson!
In 2nd place – Bethan Mccormick!
And finally… The winner of the 2019 Photo Competition – Mary Mccarthy!
We want to say thank you to everyone who took part and entered their photos. Each image was amazing and reminded us how fun, impactful and important Summer Camp is. That’s why we do what we do. USA Summer Camp can’t wait to send even more people to camp in the upcoming years!
Interested in heading out to camp yourself next summer?Apply here now!
Every corner on Instagram, there’s travel videos and photos covering the feeds of fond travellers, who all wish they were the ones jetting off to a new country. We have to admit, we do get extreme FOMO, but there’s nothing better than diving deep into the pages and pages of pictures, inspiring the inner explorer to come alight and start planning the next trip away. While scrolling through the hundreds of traveller Instagram accounts, we discovered some accounts that we just had to share with you. If you need some travel inspiration for your 30 days of travel after camp, check out our top 11 best travel Instagram accounts you should follow.
Kiki aka @Theblondeabroad is inspirational for female solo travellers all around the world. She has been to over 70 countries and is still making it her mission to see and explore more of the world we live in. Her feed is inspirational and makes us proud to be strong women! Make sure to check out her blog website which is jam-packed full of tips and tricks on solo travel and travel guides.
Tanya’s feed is just wow. The bright colours and unique images capture the beauty in the world. From the US, Marrakesh, Europe and Thailand, Tanya has had her fair share of trips. If you want your Instagram to look like as good as all of these travel bloggers, check out Tanya’s photographs to get inspired.
Murad’s feed is a work of art. Pictures are vibrant, powerful and nothing like we have seen ever before. To confirm how amazing his work is, he has been awarded the title ‘Influencer of the year’ and became one of the Top 3 Travel Influencers by Forbes. Pretty impressive, right? From exploring NYC to a helicopter ride over the Hollywood sign, Murad has taken some amazing photos from his time in the states.
Louis has 1.2 million followers on Instagram and is known for his crazy adventures. (Louis and his team brought a little propeller plane to travel around the world!) He travelled across parts of the states and Mexico in a school bus, documenting his journey. If you want some ideas on where to go on your 30 days of travel, check out his Instagram feed and youtube videos.
Jack Morris and his girlfriend have been jumping from destination to destination. They capture each country beautifully to keep their followers up to date on their adventures. If you need some help editing your photos, both Jack and his girlfriend give tutorials on how they get their photos looking amazing.
Lauren aka Girlgoneabroad quit her 9-5 job and jetted off to get her travel fix. She has taught in Thailand, hopped over to Europe and travelled ever since. Her photos from the US are a little different from the typical National Park picture or Hollywood sign shot. Her unique photographs capture a different side to America that you might not have seen previously.
Luca and Ale are travel couple goals! Every time one of their photographs pop up onto our feed, we can’t help but wish we were anywhere but in the UK. The couple has explored California and New York in their trips to the states. Make sure to check out their NYC highlights. It has great ideas of where to go when you go to New York this summer!
If you want to travel to Disneyland when in the US, check out Alexandra’s Instagram feed. She spent a couple of days travel exploring Disneyland, New York and the National Parks in the US. Her feed is truly magical and if you’re a true Disney fan, this is one of the best travel Instagram accounts for you.
This is definitely one of the best travel Instagram accounts to follow. If you love nature and tropical vibes, you have to check out @Backpackersglobe. Their Instagram is filled with breathtaking images of the landscapes and wildlife around the US, Canada and Indonesia. One of our favourite pictures from their trip to Hawaii!
We can’t lie. After seeing Laura’s Instagram, We all are currently wishing we were road tripping down route 66. From LA to New Orleans, Laura and Nicolas have mastered travelling in the US and have some great destinations for you to put on your list.
If you love scrolling through hundreds of pictures of landscapes and scenery, follow @Tiffpenguin! Her feed captures the magnificent panorama around the globe. She is also based in Los Angeles!
So, there you have it. That’s out top 11 travel Instagram accounts to inspire and motivate you to go explore and push yourself further. If you like what you saw and can’t wait to get out to the states, start your application to head out to Summer Camp here!