1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?
Working at summer camp in the USA with Wild Packs was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I got so much more out of it than I ever could have imagined both in terms of personal development and in positively impacting the lives of others.
2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?
Camp is a really close knit community where each staff member feels like a valuable part of the team. I have never worked in a more supported environment and bonded with my colleagues much faster than with any previous job.
3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?
My supervisors were very supportive and knowledgeable, I felt that I could go to them with any issue that I faced over the summer no matter how big or small. The leadership team at my camp was very well structured and I always knew who I should report to.
4. How busy were you on a daily basis?
Camp is a VERY busy environment and although hard work at times, I never felt like I couldn't cope. From dawn til dusk I was engaged with the children whilst taking part in various different activities. I can honestly say I was NEVER bored, any down time was spent either catching up with friends and family back home or more likely, taking a shower or nap.
5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?
As a first year counselor, I was responsible for the daily care of a bunk of 12 campers along with 2 other co-counselors. To start with I thought this might be a little over-whelming, however it soon became apparent that other staff members were available to help in difficult situations (of which there were very few). I felt comfortable knowing that whilst the children were primarily my responsibility, there was always someone I could rely on who had more experience.
6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?
As a veterinary student, working at summer camp may not have been the smartest move in terms of aiding my studies, however I got a HUGE amount out of the experience that I feel will benefit me in the future. My communication skills vastly improved over the course of my placement and I now feel a lot more confident when it comes to public speaking and delivering pertinent information.
7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?
Although not in an office, camp is the most positive environment I have ever worked in! The philosophy of the program was to encourage all members of the community to be comfortable in their own skin and to embrace the opportunities that surrounded them. I felt like everyone was striving towards creating a fun, positive and happy environment for the campers and this definitely rubbed off on all the staff.
8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?
Wild Packs were great. I applied in February 2016 and after a successful interview I was offered a place at a camp in Virginia at the beginning of March. I knew straight away that this camp would be a great fit for my skills, experience and personalty so I after another interview with the camp director, I accepted the position straight away. The visa process was explained to me very clearly and I visited the embassy towards the end of April and got my Passport back in plenty of time to fly in early June.
9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?
I was put through a life-guarding qualification upon my arrival at camp as well as an extensive staff training program. Throughout the summer I also received regular evaluations and goals for self improvement.
10. What were the perks on your work placement?
11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?
At the end of the summer, I spoke with my supervisor about the possibility of returning next year in a position of greater responsibility. Unfortunately I am unable to return to camp due to my studies, but I do feel that there are great opportunities for seasonal progression for students who are able to return to the USA each summer.
12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?
Although we spent the majority of the time at camp, during time off we were able to visit local towns and attractions and since the majority of the staff were of a similar age (18-25 approx) there was a great social scene. However it should be noted that camp is not a partying environment as drinking/smoking etc. is not allowed on campus.
13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?
The cost of living in America generally seems less than in the UK, however all my food and accommodation was covered by camp so I didn't have to may for much, apart from during time off.
14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?
My camp was located near a college town so there were plenty of restaurants and bars near by. However we were not able to visit them all that frequently due to commitments at camp. I did not find this to be an issue however.
15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?
During time off transport was provided to local attractions such as malls, lakes, forest parks etc. I also got to complete a via feratta rock climbing expedition in West Virginia.