Weekly Photo Challenge – Reflections

This weeks challenge is reflections. I have chosen to share this particular image with you, because to me, this is one if the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure if living, and working.

To me, it was the most peaceful area I have ever seen. It certainly made me reflect on my own personal goals and ambitions.

I am truly grateful to have witnessed this for myself.

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What are YOU doing next summer?

Thinking about summer camp next year? Stop thinking and start applying!

It may seem a little early to consider what you may or may not be doing next summer, but if you’re looking for an experience you’ll never forget, with the opportunity to travel afterwards, then summer camp in America may just be for you!

When I first considered joining the Camp Leaders programme, last August, I had hundreds of questions that I couldn’t always find the answer too. Hopefully, this post will answer a few of those.

“What is it all about?!”
Summer camp is a huge tradition in the states. Thousands and thousands of parents send their children away to camp each summer, leaving them in the hands of us! The kids are after a good time, learn new skills and make memories that last a lifetime.

“How do I know if I’m going to enjoy it?”
Take it from us. You just will. As long as you’re outgoing, patient and don’t mind looking a fool for a childs entertainment on the odd occasion, its for you! It is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have, and it is something you can take away with you forever. Not only that, you will be able to brag when you get home that it is possibly the coolest summer job ever.

“What do I get for my money?”
With Camp Leaders the programme fees can be as little as £389. This is an incentive for you to put all your work in and get you application processed and placable as soon as possible. Included in your fees are your return flights, medical insurance, all your visa paperwork, admin fees, 24/7 support here and in the states, and obviously a paid summer job in America.

“Will I get placed?”
99.9% of participants get a place at camp.

“But I don’t have any experience”
Yes you do! Everyone has a skill that makes them unique to camp, and if you’re really worried about it, check out local volunteering opportunities. Do-it has a wide range of youth and childcare opportunities nationwide that would enhance your application. If you’re still unsure, check out the some of the courses that are offered by Camp Leaders.

These are just a few of the questions I get asked on twitter, instagram and facebook, but honestly, you will not regret your decision to sign up. There is a camp out there for everyone, and all camps are completely different, so no experience will be the same, but your summer memories will last a lifetime.

Summer is Over

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Summer is officially over. As I’ve been gone for some time, I wrote this small blog post for Camp Leaders, so potential applicants could see a ‘true’ story about summer camp in America.

I was hired at a girl scout camp in Virginia as a lifeguard. Both girl lifeguarding and being a girl scout were completely new to me, so I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Before I left for the USA I trained as a lifeguard on the camp leaders ARC course. This was a brilliant week of meeting like minded people, and it also answered many of questions that I had about camp. 

I left for the states on the 10th June, not knowing too much about what camp life would really be like. When I arrived I stayed with a host family so I could get over my jetlag and ease into American culture. They were some of the best people I met during my time there. They picked me up from the airport, took us out sightseeing and for dinner, picked us up on our weekends off so we could have a little break from camp life, and looked after us before we flew home. They were so welcoming, and as they were a family that had attended the camp themselves before, they definitely settled any nerves! 

The camp itself was very basic. We had no electricity, no flushing toilets and lived in platform tents. The experience itself was a challenge, especially when it came to removing spiders or seeing a snake every now and then. But having everything so basic, made me more appreciative of everything that I have at home! 

Our day to day routine was very similar to other camps. We would get up around 7, attend flag, go to breakfast and then the activities would start. Being waterfront staff, meant that I got to spend my entire day at the waterfront, taking part in the activities. These included swimming, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. The campers go to experience a lot of the waterfront, as well as arts and crafts, but we always had some crazy all camp games to end the day. We also had fantastic themed weeks, such as pirates, the hunger games and harry potter, which was obviously very popular!  

After an amazing 9 weeks, saying goodbye to 24 of the best people I could have ever met was so difficult. Camp friendships are a little different as you are not only friends, but you’re also your own little family. I can now say that I have friends all over the world thanks to camp in America. 

I was lucky enough to travel after camp for 3 weeks. in this time I went too Florida, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC and New York. I got to visit some beautiful places, and experience things I never thought I would.  

If anyone is in two minds about whether they should apply or not, my advice would be to go for it! You will not regret a single minute when you are at camp and it will be the best experience of your life. 

Looking After The Pennies

Everyday I work with money. Loads of it. Sometimes I get lovely notes from people on it and I always wonder where in the UK that note has come from. But that is besides the point.

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(This person is probably right)

Everyone I seem to meet always asks if I have any ‘savings’ and quite frankly, it’s nobodies business but my own. Saving for travelling is hard and no one ever really tells you quite how hard its going to be. But one of the best questions always seems to be, ‘how are you doing this on such a low paid job?’ 

To be honest, my job isn’t low paid for what I do, and the hours I work. It’s government average. I pay my taxes and NI like any other honest person, but I am just sensible with my income. Like others, I have my rent to pay, my bills to pay, I contribute where I can and still have a social life.

To travel, you need to have passion, drive and a clear goal about what you want to achieve whilst travelling. The key to the travelling money pot though, is budgeting. Definitely easier said than done.

Each payday I look at my expenses and see what I need. Learning the difference between needs and wants also plays a massive part in this! Then, I withdraw all my money. If its not in the bank, how can I spend it? All the notes go into a jar in my home, and I keep £80 out. (That’s £20 a week if you can’t work it out 😉 )

ImageIn the £20, I still manage to get my breakfast everyday, go for lunch, drinks of an evening, pay for my weekly locker at the pool & treat myself on a Friday night. You’ll be surprised how far you can push your money when you want something so badly. And at the end of the week, if you have a bit of loose change, whack that in your pot too! It all adds up.

If you feel like the temptation is too great, why not volunteer some spare time to your local community? Doing this a few nights a week can cut expenses from your local in a flash. An even better way to look at it, is to work out how far that £50 night out on the weekend would get you in south east Asia. You could probably get a few nights in a hotel with meals with that! It’s crazy what you find out when you do your research.

A great way to make some easy money if you have a few spare minutes of your time, is to sign up to survey websites. It’s pretty simple. Tried and tested by yours truly, is MySurvey. A couple of surveys get emailed to you every 1-2 weeks, ranging between 5-30 minutes.
You gain points which equate to Paypal funds! In 3 months, I have personally earned over £20, which has been welcomed in my travelling pot!

 

MySurvey header image - MySurvey - Discover the power of Your Opinion

And if you don’t have time for this, get rid of your old gear you don’t/won’t need whilst travelling. It’s only going to collect dust in the time you have gone. Another mans trash, is another mans treasure remember!

So that’s it for me. That’s how I’m doing. I’m even sad enough to have a little spreadsheet on the go. Someone save me before its too late. Any other savings tips are greatly welcomed!

How are you saving for travelling?

 

Planning is Part of the Fun!

Now, who was delusional enough to think of that statement? Honestly.

So I would say, I’m about half way through the ‘planning’ phase of my travels for the States. If half way was more like being near the beginning. Sigh. So far, there is 4 of us that has decided renting a car and driving the southern route of america to LA is a fantastic idea. Which it is. On paper. Or in this case, a Facebook message.Because you see, I’ve never actually met any of the people I’m travelling with. Which has personally added to the excitement of the whole trip.

Everyone is buzzing with the thought of driving somewhere after we’ve worked our little socks off for the last 11 weeks. And to share the same passions and likes as someone you’ve never met is a big deal, and a massive step towards what could potentially lead to some amazing friendships. (I can’t wait!)

Our starting point is camp, in Washington. That’s pretty much the only solid thing we have right now! But we are driving through to New Orleans, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and finally ending up in California. There are no words to describe how amazing this journey will be. We have 3 nights in Las Vegas already booked in a sweet hotel which cost £60. EXACTLY. And did I mention we’re camping out under the stars at the Grand Canyon? Yeah we are!

But once we’ve seen the Hollywood sign, and walked down some famous avenues, we’re hopping on a 15 hour overnight train to Chicago for 3 nights, before heading up north towards New York, as this is where I’m flying home from, and is an easy base for the other guys flying from good ol’ DC.

Times Square on  in NYC

The only thing I have to worry about is a couple of days on my own in New York, and that isn’t a bad thing at all! And maybe the whole driving thing. Can you  honestly imagine me driving on the other side of the road just screaming lyrics to songs i barely know just to stay awake? No neither can I. And I don’t think they know what they’re letting themselves in for!

Any recommendations of hotels, or good places to stay in New York are welcomed with open arms.

So that’s my summer plans. Jealous? Thought so. 😉