I have just spent the best time of my life working at a children’s summer camp in America. Oh, it was the hardest job I’ll ever have, with working hours from 7am to 9pm and constantly having to be upbeat for the kids, but it was also the most rewarding.
I spent my summer at Camp Caribou, an all-boys camp on a private 200-acre peninsular, being the only camp on the lake, with a mile and a half of private lakefront, in Winslow, Maine. The camp is run by the Lermans, a four-generation family who all live and breathe for camp and the boys who go there. Joining the Lermans and other returning counsellors at the camp was an amazing feeling, they really made you feel like part of their family. If you’ve got some spare time, take a look at the camp’s video here.
“The days are long, but the weeks fly by.”
My day consisted of waking the kids up in my bunk, getting them ready for flagpole, where the American and camp’s flags were raised before breakfast. After a hearty breakfast, we would venture back to our cabins for clean-up. During the first session of the summer, myself and my two counsellors had thirteen 11-year-olds, who were pretty good at clean-up. During second session, however, we had nine 9-year-olds, who weren’t as keen to do it…
My second session bunk.
The bunk plaque I made for my boys.
After [the attempt at] cleaning up the bunk, there were instructionals. For five mornings a week, there were 3 instructional periods, this is where the children have one compulsory session at each sport/activity area a week, following a timetable. Instructionals were the time where we, as instructors of our specific area, would coach the children, improving technique, accuracy and consistency in my case with archery.
Coaching in instructionals.
A bit of competition can help!
Following on from instructionals, we all went to The Tree, which is where an instructor from each activity area would tell all the children what was happening in their area that afternoon during electives. Electives were effectively fun sessions that the children chose to sign up to attend. At archery, our popular electives included Flu-Flus (flying targets), BYOT (Bring Your Own Targets) and Beat the Pro. After meeting at The Tree, the whole camp had lunch together, followed by rest period, a time when the kids had some time to chill out and relax before the hectic time of electives. (I still think rest period was more for the counsellors than the kids!)
My archery colleagues.
We were health and safety conscious, don’t worry…
After electives were over and done with, we all went back to the flagpole for the lowering of the flags. Then… DINNER! Once we were all stuffed from an amazing meal, evening activities commenced. These varied every day, and ranged from visits to the local cinema, games and activities that weren’t normally on offer at camp, play dates and socials with the neighbouring girls’ camps, and lip sync battles and theatre productions.
Lip Sync Battles
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Time Warp Craziness
On the two days of the week where there weren’t any instructionals – the days where half of the camp’s staff had a day off – several trips and other activities were run. These included trips to the beach, adventures to water parks and a carnival on camp to name but a few.
“The best thing about memories is making them.”
One of the camp’s major events is Colour War. This is a two-day event where each camper and staff member are divided up and each assigned to either the grey or blue team, a family which they would be a part of forever – I was made a member of the grey team. Across the 2 days, there were numerous competitions, including all the sports and activity areas, and non-sporting competitions for those who sport wasn’t their forté, with chess, cup-stacking and checkers being a few very popular of the events. During Colour War, I spent most my time in the wood shop, helping to make the grey team’s plaque – staying there and working into the early hours of the morning on both days. Colour War was an amazing experience, and one that the campers wait year-round for and truly embrace.
The Break of Colour War
Chess is a real man’s sport!
Grey Team’s Plaque
Once these amazing activities, events and trips are complete, it’s time for bed. This was probably the easiest part of the day, as all the kids [and counsellors] were shattered from the non-stop fun that was had all day long.
“It’s cool to be kind at Camp Caribou.”
Camp Caribou is truly a place where dreams are made a reality. Camp Caribou instils many qualities into its campers that make them better people; kindness, spirit, friendship, sportsmanship, fun, tradition and leadership. Each and every person who drives down that mile-long road into camp becomes a member of the Caribou family, a family I am proud to say I am a member of.
“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”