Crossing The Ocean: What It’s Like to be an International Counselor in Maine
September 20, 2016, by Jake
Crossing The Ocean: What It’s Like to be an International Counselor in Maine
September 20, 2016, by Jake

By Callum Wilson, MCE Camp Counselor from London, England

“Wow, I really do have the best job in the world!” – this has been an ever-present thought throughout my summers working as an international camp counselor at a Maine Camp Experience summer camp.

Two years ago, as a 21-year-old law student from the U.K., I wanted to do something completely different with my summer. Instead of doing an internship somewhere in England, I decided to take a leap and apply to work at a summer camp in the United States. Little did I know that this was going to be a life changing experience. Working as a counselor at camp in Maine has become an integral part of my summers, and the opportunity to teach and inspire kids, act as a role model, and connect with campers through a love of camp traditions, events, and simple camp spirit has been more than I could have ever hoped for when I initially signed up for this summer job.

Initially, I applied through an international staff recruitment agency, and after a rigorous screening process, I was approached by a Maine Camp Experience camp. As soon as I spoke to the Director at the camp, I knew this was the place for me – and as I soon learned, the directors have an uncanny ability to pick the perfect staff for the camp. I have consistently been impressed by the way the directors make sure that the staff are suited for the camp, creating a cohesive environment which enables camp to run smoothly and enjoyably for kids and counselors alike.

I’ll be completely honest, when I found out my camp was in Maine I didn’t know exactly what to expect, as rural Maine is not exactly what jumps to mind when Brits think of the USA. However, I did a quick search online and the same theme kept showing up – Maine is beautiful – and it certainly did not disappoint! As a Campcraft counselor I was lucky enough to go on some spectacular trips to some of the best natural attractions Maine, and its neighbouring New Hampshire, have to offer – and I was able to share my passion with the campers I accompanied. Coming from London, I could only dream of hiking some of the spectacular Maine mountains, or seeing places of unspoiled natural beauty such as Acadia National Park. It was truly rewarding to take groups of children on hikes to Mount Katahdin and Mount Washington, and to see their love for the outdoors and their appreciation of nature grow with the more time they spent on these trips.

My time as a counselor has also allowed me to travel the United States with fellow staff members, and experience uniquely “American” traditions like seeing a baseball game – (and I’m an honorary Portland Sea Dogs fan, now). However, the natural beauty of Maine, the opportunity to forge friendships with staff, and the ability to travel the United States can all be experienced in one summer – so the question I am always asked by my friends and family is “why do you keep going back?”

This is a hard question to answer; it is hard to put into words and quantify the way that camp makes you feel, and how great it is to work there. Camp isn’t just another job –even for counselors camp becomes your second home, and the people there start to feel like family. You make lifelong friends and have the best summers of your life. Throughout the year I dream of going back there, and count down the days until the next summer starts again. Summer camp in Maine really is something special, and allows you to really feel like you are part of a unique community. I feel particularly lucky because the Maine Camp Experience camp that I work at has been run and owned by the same family for 99 years, and the fact that the traditions from nearly a century ago remain to this very day gives the camp a unique feel. Furthermore, the structure of camp creates a constantly exciting atmosphere, and working with children ranging from 7 years of age up to 15 is challenging at times, but is immensely rewarding. Seeing the children grow as individuals throughout their summers at camp is astonishing; the positive impact that camp has on them is undeniable, and makes crossing any ocean worthwhile. It is an honour to be able to play a small part in this; and you can tell that all of the counselors feel the same way, and really care about making the campers’ experiences as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

Camp is truly a special place, and I really feel lucky that I get to return to Maine every summer. The positive influence that camp has on both the children and the staff, and the enjoyment that camp brings to everybody, makes it no surprise that so many counselors and campers continue to return. And while it may be thousands of miles away, camp is always close to my heart, and I cherish the fact that each summer I can continue make the journey to the camp I continue to call home.

Maine Camp Experience would like to thank our incredible international staffing partners, who fill our camps with such wonderful staff:

CIEE – Council on International Educational Exchange

Camp America

Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools

Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child?  Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks).  It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates.  Then you can research these camps in more depth.  

Next, be sure to contact our Maine Campcierge™ to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.

You can share your own Maine camps memories & expressions of gratitude on our Memories of Camp section of our website.

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“I greatly enjoyed speaking with Laurie (Guide at Maine Camp Experience). Thanks to her guidance, ideas and suggestions we truly feel that our ultimate choice is the right one for us. We can trust that our seven year old daughter will have a wonderful summer!”

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