Hellllllo little blog!
So you might recall last year over in this post I compiled a list of exciting things happening in my life- upcoming and in motion. As numero due stated, I had applied to work at American summer camps through the company, AmeriCamp, and I said that I would blog my experience in the process. Nothing in my application (up until last Sunday) had changed minus I got those two references I was waiting for and I completed my DBS check.
Onto the fair!
So AmeriCamp have four fairs this year and as I write this, there is only one left to go. Locations included Manchester, Leeds, London and Edinburgh! I live near enough an equal distance from both Manchester and London, with friends in both cities but I opted for my old abode of Manchester and travelled up the night before. The Manchester fair fell on a Sunday and due to work commitments, I had to be back later that night (seems random info but stay tuned).
Prior to these fairs, AmeriCamp had been emailing us who was attending the fair. These announcements boarded my ark of eagerness in their two-by-twos. To be honest, I didn’t make a note of who was attending. Every time I saw the word ‘Manchester’, I gave the camp a little google but I knew a list would be released before the actual fair and only once that was released, would I do my research.
In terms of researching the fairs, I told myself: go in hard on three. Pick three tops camps, visit them in that order, then hope for the best. Oh, and also don’t fall in love and set your heart on any camp because otherwise you’ll be super crushed. Side note: It is impossible not to fall in love with the camps you research, if you attempt to remain neutral, you will also be unsuccessful. But I suppose that is a good thing, like you’re going to want to know this place in and out, you need to know that you’ll love it and want to be there! Anyway, I’m pretty practical so I quickly eliminated a few camps due to dates, I’m 22 so age limits weren’t an issue for me but if you’re younger, just note that some camps are 19+, 20+, 21+. Then I looked at the skills that the camps were looking for- no point me selling myself, if they’re not even in the market for a horse rider. Another thing to note, the skills on the list were mostly very broad i.e. ‘outdoor/adventure’ which I guess is where I fit, but then a camp listed for Leeds explicitly stated ‘horseback’ so I was like ??? but then at the actual fair, every camp had an eclectic list of things they were looking for anyway. Tip: Run with the broad/umbrella skills and eyeball it when you get there.
So as it turns out, AmeriCamp HQ is like a two minute drive from my friends’ flat so I didn’t have to factor time to get there or any of that. My top three camps all happened to be attending after 4pm so I was playing the game of do I get there for that time or do I get there earlier and see what else is happening. I got there earlier. I got there at 12:30ish maybe, signed in at the front and just sort of meandered round. AmeriCamp HQ is one coooool place, I dig it. There’s like life size action figures, which I found out most/all(?) came from Disneyland. There was a huge ball pit, there was a DOG, a dog welcomed me into the building. Sold on a dog, as everyone who crosses my path knows, I love dogs. So funny story, I was stood thinking there were too many people to fit round this corner LOL and it was actually a queue for one of the camps. I’m a fool, I don’t know why I’m like this. But I was chatting to a couple of girls in the queue- that’s how this information fell upon me and decided I might as well stay there, chat some more, maybe go see the guy at this camp (they weren’t hiring my skill). I had four hours to kill so it couldn’t hurt. I ended up chatting to the director of this (unnamed because this post is for my camp, SPOILER) camp and he was super nice and I was literally like you’re super nice, everyone is saying how nice you are, I’m just here for a chat hiya and he was super chill like yeah we have returners for your skill but good luck! Super nice. That waiting and chatting actually took up about two hours.
Then I moved onto another camp who I saw had the ‘outdoor/adventure’ and I wanted to know if that included my skill. I googled them quickly and saw that they do offer riding but it said that the stable was fifteen minutes away. Now in my head, I was like okay it’s either a huge camp or they use an external stables- in which case, they’ll have their own staff. Luckily, there was a girl who worked for the camp outside sort of filtering people before they went into the room to chat to the director. If you’re a camp, this was the best idea! Rather than queueing for ages, I really like the speed dating vibe of okay sound you meet the prerequisites, now you’ve gotta meet the big guns and he’ll decide if you’re actually what we want. I don’t know, I just feel there’s no disappointment, you can move on elsewhere, everything is flowing like a sweet lil river y’know. Basically, I spoke to the girl and she confirmed it’s an external stables. Easy peasy, off I went.
So I just spent the next hour or so chatting to people, chilling and in Manchester, it appeared that everyone was waiting for 4pm. We were all lingering. I planned to get back to my mates for around 6ish so I had enough time to grab a bite then catch my train home. The 4pm camps happened to be delayed, which can’t be helped but I was stood like okay, I absolutely have to get my train, the next one is an hour later and I can’t stick around for it. So in my head I’m prioritising the three I want to speak to. There was one that was super popular- literally everyone I had spoke to wanted to go to their camp so I knew I’d be waiting for ages. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my first choice but it was only my preference over the other two I’d looked at because the other two don’t offer English riding. I wasn’t even that fussed like I started the AmeriCamp process happy to be placed anywhere, like I only started ranking when I had to research for the fair. Like if I researched every camp in America, I probably wouldn’t have enough summers to get through them all, if you get what I’m saying. I knew and still know that this is going to be an unforgettable summer and one amazing experience wherever I end up! (Although, now I know heh heh SPOILER again.)
Anyway anyway, so the camps finally got there and my poor little train is ticking away. I could see the camp that everyone had rushed for and I could see them setting up their board with the skills they wanted- mine wasn’t on there so that eliminated that one. I ended up queuing for another of my top three purely because time was of the essence and I was closer to it. The guy who was doing the hiring came out and informed everyone that he was only looking for skills so that filtered down the queue for those wanting to be a general counsellor. So I’m queuing and chatting to another horse rider behind me and then it was my time to go in. So the standard exchange of pleasantries happened and a nice chat to follow about my skills and then the guy saw my diet and he was like, I don’t know how we’re going to accommodate that. Which was totally fair enough. I did joke about how I spent a couple months living off rice and beans at uni and I can do that again and he was just like yeah, I just don’t think we can do it. Which was totally fine, this gal can’t not eat for three months. But he was super nice and told me I’d be snapped up pretty quickly so that was cool!
((My gosh this is long, I hope you have a drink. Story time with Paige))
It’ coming to an end, I promise. The epilogue of my tale. So I came out of the little room and looked at my watch. It’s gone 6pm by this point, I should already be back at my friends’ flat. I messaged one of my mates (who also had to get a train) that I was just gonna look at the other one and if the queue isn’t long, I’m skipping food and going for it. So I round the corner and there isn’t even a queue!!! However, recall earlier where I stated I’m a fool. Well, I’m a bit of an idiot. I just stood there waiting, thinking the girl at the table is being interviewed. My English politeness right there, too polite to notice she’s wearing a camp t-shirt. Call it the deliriousness from the hunger, yep. So yeah, I’ve introduced myself and I’ve stated I’m interested in the horse riding position, I’ve handed over my application and the folder I compiled of achievements, references, DBS check and other miscellaneous things. We’re chatting, just going through my skills- I’m an English rider through and through, I’m a jumper, I school the spooky and green horses, all of that caper and the guy doing the hiring, his name was Owen, he asked me if I was going to be bored. In all honesty, (literally what I said) sometimes it’s nice to ride a horse that doesn’t want to kill you. Plus, I’ve ridden western twice, like why did I even prioritise English over it?! Just because I have years in the field and I know I’m good at it, like why not adapt my style and pick up a new skill?! Like that’s seriously so cool and in retrospect, what I should have been doing from the get go. I get it’s about teaching my skill, but staying on a horse no matter what the saddle, is the skill! I can adapt my style pretty quickly and then teach the basics whilst still learning myself!
The only question I had prepared was about my diet and that was answered easily enough whilst Owen went through my application. He asked me if I had any other questions and my come as you are, cheeky chappy self jokingly asked ‘when can I start?’- it got a couple of laughs! I mean, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will, so! The chat continued and even went into literary and university chats. Turns out, Owen is alumni of UoM just like me so that’s pretty cool! I even made it pretty clear that I had stalked this camp a little bit so there I am telling this guy about his own camp! We kept chatting and then the line got bigger, then Owen asked me point blank, ‘do you want this job?’ oh god the smile on my face, I can feel it in my cheeks now, I was like YES! Do I?! YES. Shook on it, discussed a few other details and placement stuff then bish bash bosh, yer gal is going to camp!
So where am I going?! CAMP SCHODACK. BUZZIN. Mental. I’m going to camp for three months, to teach kids how to ride horses better than me! Fully cannot wait to be part of this big family and learn loads of new things myself! Literally there are no words. I’m just speechless. It still hasn’t sunk in. This dream I had all but six years ago, is finally happening!
Sorry this post was long but it’s story time of me recounting my steps on the day. I also took no pictures because story of my life, apparently I’m too busy to do that. Also, I know I said there would be tips but I felt this was quite a long winded tale anyway so I’ll whip up a separate post for that! In the meantime, you can watch my application video, if you fancy. It’s kind of embarrassing but it’s part of the baggage of me documenting this process.
And ignore the featured image- because I took no pictures I was like what looks like camp oh yes that’s right, Bradgate Park, yep. Class place though, 10/10 would recommend.
Also, please leave any comments about questions or if you’re going to camp yourself!