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Cooking Specialist in America: Where Are They Now?

Cooking Specialist in America: Where Are They Now?

Working at a Summer Camp allows you to explore new cities and discover everything America has to offer, but it also gives you a wide range of new skills, hobbies and experiences that you can take back with you to the UK and even use in your future career. In this blog, Doyin, one of our previous applicants talks about her experience working as a Creative Cooking Specialist in America and how that helped to open her own Cupcake Business!

Hi, I’m Doyin!

If you’d had told me that at the end of my final year at Bournemouth University, I’d be jetting off to a summer camp  to work as a Cooking Specialist in America, I wouldn’t have believed you. But 2015 was a life-changing year! Here I am, five years on, reminiscing on the experience of a lifetime.

It was a banner in the university foyer that first drew my attention to the idea of camp. I hadn’t heard much about American summer camps beyond The Parent Trap and American Pie movies. But with the final year of my bachelor’s degree completed and a long summer ahead, I decided to explore the USA Summer Camp programme. American summer camps are a world of its own. With a plethora of activities available, I wished I could have attended as a kid in the 90s.

Exploring My Skills

In my early application stages I was keen to work as an Art Specialist, as I believed that’s where my strongest skills lied. However, USA Summer Camp encouraged me to explore other skills that I could offer as an alternative selling point. This was to ensure the highest chances of securing a role. Little did I expect to be hired as a Creative Cooking Specialist  – in New York at that! Cooking was my second skill, but I didn’t think I was good enough or anywhere near advanced level to teach it. I was a home cook at best, just cooking for my housemates. However, being hired as a Creative Cooking Specialist ended up being one of my greatest development opportunities at that time.

I attended a camp open day in London and was lucky to be hired by the first camp I approached that morning. They didn’t have any more positions available to work as an Art Specialist, but I was given the opportunity to pitch my cooking skills to the camp Director in 90 seconds. I nailed my pitch and just like that, I was the final Specialist Counsellor hired for their Creative Cooking Specialist department in 2015.

And the Adventure Began…

The prospect of working in America for three months was both exhilarating and scary. From the application stage to arranging my J-1 work visa, flights and New York City accommodation, USA Summer Camp was supportive every step of the way. This was a relief because I was a first time Counsellor who was flying to New York solo. New York had always been on my USA travel bucket list, so I was thrilled to be working in the state. Camp was just a two-hour drive from the city, so there was plenty of time to see it in all its grandeur.

Working as a Creative Cooking Specialist in America was challenging yet rewarding. I wasn’t too confident in my abilities at first, but our team was lucky to be working under the guidance of a professional chef, who taught us everything from complex recipes to culinary terminology. In 2015, the cooking department became so popular, that we’d have a long queue of campers eager to attend every day. It was such a thrill to work with brand new recipes each day and see the end results. I especially loved being able to work with young people, as it was their passion that really brought the department to life.

A Typical Day in the Kitchen

As a Creative Cooking Specialist, no day or recipe was the same at camp. Every morning campers would select six activities they wanted to try. Three of those activities a camper would specialise in for the next three weeks. This could be anything from horse-riding to professional circus performance.

After breakfast, we’d head to our departments for the day. In the Creative Cooking department, that meant being briefed on a new recipe and prepping all the ingredients before the first lesson started. The first lesson would usually be the first opportunity we’d get to make the recipe. Therefore, close attention to detail was necessary to ensure nothing went wrong with the recipe.

From 9am-5pm every day, we’d teach six cooking lessons that lasted 45 minutes each. It would begin with a cooking demonstration from our head of department, then the Creative Cooking Specialists would break out into smaller groups and teach the campers how to cook the recipe using a table of ingredients.

At the end of the lesson each camper would sample the food they made before heading to their next planned activity. There was a 15-minute break between each session, allowing us enough time to clean and measure ingredients before the next group of campers walked in. Throughout the day there’d be time for a lunch break, dinner and evening camp activities. Then by 10pm, staff were off-duty and could head to a local bar, the gym, watch a movie or do whatever during their personal downtime.

Fine Tuning My Skills

Our cupcake days were the most challenging for me. I wasn’t the best baker at the time, so I struggled. It felt like something would always go wrong that particular day. From using baking soda instead of baking powder to buttercream frosting splitting. It was quite intense, but after a few sessions, I got the hang of it. We even hosted cupcake decorating parties whenever it was a camper’s birthday. All the trial and error really boosted my confidence in baking – a secondary skill of mine that needed fine-tuning prior to joining camp.

As of January 2016, I founded online bakery ‘The Cupcake Avenue’. If it wasn’t for working at camp, I probably would have never explored this as a secondary business prospect while working full-time in corporate PR. The camp experience is a wonderful opportunity to develop a new skill and I now consider baking an advanced skill. If you want to see my progress, check out @cupcakeav on Instagram and be inspired.

My Tips on How to Get Hired as a Cooking Specialist in America

If you’re not sure what career path you want to go down after graduation and love working with kids, consider signing up for the 2021 USA Summer Camp programme. You can discover potential career paths or boost existing skills and hobbies. If you’re particularly passionate about baking, I suggest the following tips to get hired as a Cooking Specialist in America:

Just Go For It!

If that’s not convincing enough, a J-1 visa allows you one month of travel across America. So, if you’re a young and talented wanderlust, camp is the right choice for you! Almost like a rite of passage. Apply today to get started on your Summer Camp application!

Doyin Faluyi
Doyin Faluyi
Doyin went to French Woods in 2015 and was hired as a Creative Cooking Specialist. She now owns her own Cupcake Business called The Cupcake Avenue!
Call now +44 (0)121 411 9165

6 Emotions You’ll Feel on your First 4th of July

Here are 6 emotions you’ll feel on your first 4th of July!

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.

Independence Day is not just a film about Aliens on the 4th of July

 

1. Confusion

confusion about 4th of july

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!

 

2. Food Coma

food coma from 4th of july

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.

 

3. Fear

fear of 4th of july

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.

 

4. Patriotic

patriotic for 4th of july

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!

 

5. Excited

excited

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?

 

6. Tired

sleepy

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!

 

Not Sure What To Do After Camp?

There are 52 states in America, spanning 3.8 square miles. Each state has its own individual charm as well as being packed full of a multitude of different Cities, Towns and new experiences. Deciding where you are going to go and what to see after camp can get overwhelming. For example, planning your travel after camp can end up leaving you with option overload.

 

Why You Should Travel With Contiki After Camp

We have recently partnered up with Contiki to bring you a selection of amazing trips and tours all across America. Take the pressure off and spend your summer enjoying your travels. Make every moment count and experience your dream trip your way. For instance, Contiki allows you to add exciting options into your trip in addition to your included experiences. With an expert Trip Manager leading your way, you’re in safe hands. Here’s why you should travel with Contiki after camp!

 

One Great Package

When you have selected your amazing trip all you now need to do is pay and go. Yes, it’s that simple! All your travel for the trip, accommodation and experiences are rolled into one great package. Dependent on your trip, you’ll even find some of your meals included too.  Exploring America and sourcing your own travel and accommodation can become quite costly. In addition, researching exactly where you want to go and booking onto these experiences can make the pennies stack up pretty quickly. Trying to get all this sorted while at camp can leave you with booking exhaustion. A reason why you should book with Contiki is that this is all sorted for you. What more could you need?

 

Make Friends Along The Way

Much like Camp, a trip with Contiki will see you making friends for life. You might find yourself left with nobody wanting to go where you would like to travel after camp. Similarly, there might only be two of you who want to travel to a certain place. With Contiki, you’ll have the safety and the comradery of being part of a group. Furthermore, the age of Contiki travellers ranges from 18 to 35 meaning you’ll be surrounded by people your own age. As well as the average age of Contiki travellers being 26, 55% are solo travellers. So, don’t be worried if you’re heading out on your own!

 

Unique Experiences

Prepare for your Bucket List to be looking pretty empty after a Contiki Trip! All of the must-see and do places will be included in your itinerary as well as some unique hidden spots. With tours including hot-spot locations such as Yosemite National Park and Route 66, you’ll have the opportunity to see Americas best locations. Your experience, your way. From LA to Canada, wherever you go after camp is up to you. Contiki is perfect for making the most out of your travel.

 

If you’re looking to explore more this summer, check out the amazing trips offered by Contiki! Save 10% on all full-price trips* and make the most of your travels!

Save 10% With Code PPUSASUMMERCAMP10

*Applicable on trips 7 days or more. Discounts apply to the land portion of your trip price only. Combinable with loyalty discount only. Discounts are subject to change.  £60 deposit, freedom guarantee, hold tours on option for up to 7 days, balance due to Contiki 45 days before departure.

 

The Best Way to Travel Around America?

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!

 

Megabus

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.

travel easier with megabus

Metro

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.

subway new york travelling

 

Greyhound

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!

catch the greyhound bus to travel after camp

 

Get Lifts off America Friends

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.

road trip with friends after camp

 

TrekAmerica

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.

trek america travels

 

Contiki

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.

travel with contiki across america

 

Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua is the Creative Designer at USA Summer Camp as well as a travel addict!