The Essentials: Those Camp Essentials Though

Working at a camp for over a month has been such a fun experience. I’m so happy that I was placed in California – I’m sure New England would have been great but the prospect of travelling cross country across America is so exciting. Before that month long journey begins, however, I have to finish my 10 week contract. I’m in no way complaining. Spending all day at the ropes course, belaying children and coaxing them to the top of the wall or to the leap of faith is unbelievably fun and rewarding, especially since my camp is for underprivileged kids who don’t have much chance for this sort of experience during the rest of the year.

I am one of thousands of Brits that each year leave the UK for the summer to work at an American summer camp. Here are some of the things I think are essential for such a role and an amazing summer.

A Water bottle

Now, this may be because I’m in the sweltering heat of California, but my water bottle is with me all day, every day, and I honestly rank this as my most important possession on camp. I’m even now of the opinion that you should have a water bottle with you every where (we’ll see how well that mantra holds when I’ve returned to Britain though). Being dehydrated will make you want to strangle your children, aid you in developing a nasty cold (or some other diseases), and cause you to be tired all the time (the desire to harm your kids is the emotion you most want to avoid by the way). This thing is a literal lifesaver, and it cost me $10 from Target. Make the investment yourself.


This is all I wear, 24/7. I really underestimated how many pairs of shorts I would need before I got here. Remember – I’m in California, in the summer. There is dust everywhere and my black sports shorts start to show the dirt about 10 seconds after taking them out of the wash. Despite packing light, I still over packed in terms of pyjamas and tops. I ended up having to buy another pair of shorts from Target (where else!?) so take note potential camp employees.

(Just FYI: I need 3 pairs of shorts for a 5 day session. Other, more fashionable people, need more.)

A Smart Phone

I know that nowadays most people have smart phones, but for those weary about taking the jump a phone that can connect to the internet is truly essential. Some requirements for said phone: make sure it has a front facing camera for Skyping home, otherwise that’s just awkward; Facebook Messenger, because if you don’t have an American sim card What’s Apping can be interesting, while everyone has Facebook; and either lots of memory space or a Dropbox (or the like) account for the millions of photos you will take. Seriously – the only access to the internet (and WordPress) I can usually get is through my phone, and I’d really miss it if it was gone.

My Kobo eReader

More technology! For those book lovers this is so important. I could arguably just read from the Kobo app on my phone, but I much prefer the lack of glare and artificial light that is allowed on the paper-like screens of eReaders. I was weary at first about the idea of abandoning hardcopy books in exchange for the electronic version, but when the option is between trying to fit 7 paperbacks in your precious luggage space, contributing to a weight that needs to be as low as possible, and one eReader there’s no competition. Because I can’t forget hard copies all together I try to make a balance of buying a combination. When on the road, however, a little device such as this is indispesible, especially if there is a 6 hour bus ride coming your way.

Other tips:
– Buy a sleeping bag instead of bedsheets and duvets. They’re much easier to move and set up when your moving from cabin to cabin between sessions.
– Buy your toiletries out there as it saves weight in your luggage allowance, and generally is cheaper.
– I find having a rucksack (or backpack) is really helpful just for carrying the random bits and pieces needed in the day around camp.
– Also, it may sound corny but a sense of humour and bucket-loads of patience are absolutely necessary – if this is your first time working with kids and you think it will be easy, think again; they will drive you crazy if you let them.
– Finally, if you are planning on travelling after camp you don’t want to be hauling a 23kg bag around with you. I know its the luggage allowance, but you are probably not going to wear that shiny top or fancy shoes enough to warrant bringing them with you. Pack light and save yourself some trouble later on.

What do you think then? Any essentials that I’ve missed? Let me know below.

Image credit: magazineluiza


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