Summer in the USA

Rebecca Howat successfully completed the Edinburgh Award Summer Work Experience last year. Here’s her blog post about what she did and what she gained from it.

Camp Albrecht Acres, Iowa, USA

This summer I am spending my time working on a special needs camp in America. I knew this would bring its challenges and rewards but a month in I didn’t quite expect it to be as rewarding as it is!

From day one I was thrown in the deep end, working with 35 other counsellors from around the world whom I had never met. A week of orientation and seeing one another 24/7 and you’d think we’d known each other for years. At Camp Albrecht Acres, we’re a family, we work as a team and we face the ups and downs together.

Each week we have around 75 campers, ranging from age 10 all the way up to 80! I’ve dealt with mobility issues, communication, behavioural, personal care… the list goes on. So far being a month in, it’s been tough, but I absolutely love it! We work with the campers from 7am until 9pm each day and any issues during the night we also have to take care of, therefore, we are with our campers 24/7 from Sunday afternoon until Friday morning.

At camp, we take part in multiple activities in smaller ‘nations’ such as swimming, arts and crafts, nature and science, music & fun and games. We also have evening activities where we join as one large group – these are usually movies, a dance, awards and game night. Everyone loves it!

Personally I have found that you don’t realise the impact you have had on people’s lives until you have to say goodbye. I have now over the course of 3 weeks and a weekend worked with 9 campers myself, which then expands to 75 campers in my nation and around 240 campers overall. Working with special needs has allowed me to appreciate things more that I can do and experience. Making what seems like a small difference to their time at camp actually turns out to be huge. I have found working with a ratio between 1 and 3 campers each time has been an emotional rollercoaster. My peers have commended my efforts and I am loving being able to have such a positive impact on campers, even if it’s for 5 days. Saying goodbye to my campers each week has been difficult as I have built a relationship with them, due to assistance with personal care and general activities.

A quote from one of the nurses at camp sums up what camp is:

“You have done, endured, learned things about others and yourselves that you never dreamed possible. Camp is not a job. It’s a passion.”

I love it here and can’t wait to continue creating an impact whether it be big or small on the lives of others!

(Originally posted on July 9, 2016 by Rebecca Howat)

If this has inspired you to find out more about summer camps or spending a summer abroad then you can find out more on our website.

For more information on getting experience over the summer and gaining official recognition from the University for it click here

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