Travel writer Laura Botia writes about Snowdonia National Park and the diverse range of activities and landscapes this corner of Wales has to offer.Written by Laura Botia on 16th March 2018
A Summer in the USA
Travel writer Lia Rodgers talks about the exciting summer that she spent in the USA
It’s a summer in the USA, so I put my hands up…
Summer Camp; not really a concept the British have ever experienced. I believe this is what intrigued me the most, growing up watching American films, such as The Parent Trap and Camp Rock. An idealistic, fun, care-free image of American summer camps embedded in my mind.
So as of Autumn, 2016, I began inquiring about working at a camp. Through friends and family, I decided the organisation, Camp America, was the best route to go down, as it provided me with the opportunity for a months travel. Having been around since 1969, with connections to hundreds of camps across the country, placing 7000+ applicants each year and a great reputation, it seemed like a no-brainer. I signed up and created my own account through their website. The application was a gradual process, as I built and refined the contents. Once I had completed most of it, I received a notification, allowing me to select an interviewer and arrange a meetup. It was an informal interview and I was made to feel very at ease, whilst we drank coffee in her favourite coffee shop. Once the interviewer has given you the all clear, your application has been polished and the fee has been paid, it can be sent off. I received frequent emails, reminding me to complete the application throughout the process, which was rather useful and pushed me to transmit my application relatively early. Now, this is when the waiting game begins…
As of 26th January 2017, I received an exciting email from a day camp in Walnut Creek, California, just outside of San Francisco. The sensation of opening the email and feeling like my journey had just begun was exhilarating. Once I’d received the email, a Skype interview was arranged, I was offered a job as a Tennis coach/Camp Counsellor and everything seemed to fall into place after that. I was assigned host families, I applied for my visa, I booked my flight…and before I knew it I had finished my last exam and two days later I was squished in a middle seat between two men on a Norwegian airliner.
For the first 5 weeks, the transition of settling into life at camp and staying with an American family was tough. I’ll admit the lack of roast dinners and regularly scheduled cuddles with my dog were taking its toll on me. Once I’d found my stride, working in 40+ degree heat and constantly singing camp songs became the norm and I miss every single bit and the people that came with it. As I sit writing this, layered in three jumpers, listening to the constant drum of rain, I long to be back in that joyous place. Don’t get me wrong, working with kids is full-on, tiring and stressful; I was in bed for 9 most nights! But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, as it’s provided me with some crucial skills for any future work and something interesting for me to talk about.
After 10 long weeks of camp, the travelling opportunity I had been longing for, finally arrived. With a few flights booked and a rough plan of my travels: I set off. Yosemite was my first destination. I travelled and camped there with my host family and friends. On arrival, we were greeted by breath-taking surroundings, overflowing with wildlife. With only a few days to take in the national park’s beauty, I was devastated to leave so soon. My next stop was Seattle; I was astounded by how green the city was. With expectations that my visit would be filled with rainfall, Seattle provided a sunny week, leaving me pleasantly surprised. Finally, I spent a week at Lake Tahoe, jam-packed with exploring, hiking and swimming in its clear, emerald waters. I rounded off my journey with a weekend back in San Francisco, visiting family and friends; the best possible way to end my trip.
Despite my month exploring the USA, I by no means covered half of the places I wanted to. This opportunity has only motivated me to return and experience more of what they have to offer.