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Why You Should Work at a Special Needs Camp

Many people think you would require a qualification of some sort to be able to work at a Special Needs Camp for the summer. Believe me, working at a special needs camp is like earning a qualification in itself.

Meet Camp Counselor Rachael!

For the past three summers, I have worked at Wisconsin Badger Camp (two summers as a counselor and one as leadership staff). WBC is a summer camp which provides recreational outdoor experiences for adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Nobody will ever be turned away from WBC, regardless of the severity of their disability. A  special needs camp is a place of belonging, where campers feel loved, cared for and accepted for who they are.

From the moment campers leave at the end of their week-long session, they are already eagerly awaiting their return the following summer. For many campers, it is the one week of the year where they leave their parents/caregivers/care home. All staff at special needs camps strive to make this one week, the best week of the campers’ lives.

Typical Camp Day

So you may wonder what a typical day at a summer camp is like, let alone a special needs summer camp where programmes may need to be adapted. Typically the day went somewhat like this:

7:15 am: wake up (or if you are like me in the mornings and require a little encouragement it could be later).
7:45-8:15: Morning meds (you accompany your camper group to the med window)
8:15-9 am: Breakfast
9-9:50: Pictures/Session 1
10-10:50: Session 2
11-11:50: Session 3
12-12:15: Noon Meds
12:15-1pm: Lunch
1-2 pm: Noon rest
2-2:50pm: Session 4
3-3:50pm: Session 5
4-4:50pm: Session 6
5-5:15: Dinner meds
5:15-6 pm: Dinner
6:30-8 pm: Evening activity
8 pm: Evening meds
9 pm: Lights out

This was the structure for my camp, however, all camps will differ in terms of a typical daily routine. Daily activities included arts and crafts, swimming, nature, recreation, music, camping excursions, hiking, water carnival, ice-cream social and talent shows. Evening activities consisted of director’s night, counselor’s night, Badger Olympics and Badger Ball. Depending on the day, the weather and your camper group, activities might not always go to plan, so it’s important for counselors to be flexible and creative in these situations.

My Personal Experience as a Camp Counselor

As a counselor for two years, it was incredible to work with such a diverse range of campers with varying levels of ability, behaviours and needs on a weekly basis. My campers were as young as 10 and as old as 90. It was so interesting to get to know each camper individually and always accommodate them. At the beginning of the summer, the prospect of personal care frightened me a lot as I wasn’t used to it. However, after three years of getting used to toileting, showering and feeding at camp, personal care is now amongst my strongest points.

Camp will really help your overall mindset to change and you really begin to see the world and everyone around you differently. Something that is also amazing about camp is the amount of support that is available. Whether you are struggling with your campers, are feeling homesick or just need a chat, there is always someone who you can talk to. Everyone is in the same boat at camp and all staff will become your 2nd family.

For my third summer at camp, I was part of the leadership staff team as Camper Coordinator. Instead of being responsible for a group of campers, I was in charge of all counselors and their campers. I helped to assist them with personal care and behaviour management, as well as being an overall support model.

Why You Should Work at a Special Needs Camp

If I had to describe a special needs summer camp in three words they would be: rewarding, life-changing and happiness. The bonds you form not only with the staff but also with your campers are like no other. At the end of a session, every counselor is holding back the tears saying goodbye to their camper groups.  These reasons are why I recommend new counselors to work at a Special Needs Camp.

Whether you love it or hate it, everyone is in the same area for three months and all staff will become your family. I am lucky to say that many of my closest friends are the ones I have made at camp over my three summers. Anyone considering to work at a Special Needs Camp, I could not recommend it enough.  You will gain so much experience, form unforgettable bonds and have the best summer(s) of your life – Long Live Adventure!

If you’re ready to make a difference next summer, apply here to start your application.

Racheal Power
Racheal Power
Hey! My name is Rachael and this is my second year on the USA Summer Camp National Support Team. I love being able to meet with applicants and share my knowledge, experience and love of camp with them!
Call now +44 (0)121 411 9165

Why You Should Travel With Contiki After Camp

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

 

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.

 

Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua is the Creative Designer at USA Summer Camp!