Written By: Claire Norman
Being from Australia, people often say that I’ve never truly experienced all four seasons. Never have I groaned as I’ve looked outside and seen piles of snow on the floor, thinking of how this will inconvenience me on my trip to school, in fact, only once have I looked outside my window and seen the group lightly coated with snow and had a 12-minute solo dance party to celebrate. I’ve never been surrounded by red and yellow leaves as I stroll down the street, piled into mounds by street cleaners, as many Australian native trees are non-deciduous and therefore do not lose their leaves in our 15 degree Celsius ‘winter’. As you can imagine, I have experienced the hardships of 10 day long heat streaks where the temperature In the middle of the night drops to a chilly 25 degrees.
That was all before this year when I spent my Fall in Canada, landing (heh Fall) itself a spot as my favourite season. Canada was truly the greatest place to spend my first true Fall. Whilst losing my mind every day at the incredible nature I was surrounded by, I was working at Zajac Ranch in Mission, BC, in the Extended Summer Camp program, as a counsellor and head lifeguard.
I really did not know what to expect coming into this position, particularly after the typical Summer season, meaning that I would be working with a smaller team and would be entering a camp with an already tight knit staff group. Whilst this was the case, not being on such a strict schedule that restricted Summer counsellors, and running programs for a variety of participants with varied ages and skill-levels meant that I was able to develop my skills in an abundance of areas.
Being quite a quick thinking person, I have quite a short attention span and can easily get bored and often need new things to keep me entertained (me and the children participants were sometimes quite alike in this way). The Fall program was great for this as I was able to move between a variety of roles, generally due to a smaller set of staff and less campers, and learn a lot more skills along the way. Although hired as a lifeguard, throughout my 10 weeks at camp I acted a horse wrangler, a stable hand, I assisted in the preparation and serving of food, I ran orienteering, low ropes, archery, arts and crafts and even helped some of the year round staff in maintenance, which meant I got to drive around a golf buggy (!!!), possibly one of my wildest days on camp.
Although in many of these areas I had very little skills, I had so many unique experiences and learnt so much about different activities through my participation in the Extended Summer program. Not only this, but often we worked with school and community groups doing programs at the Ranch, meaning that I was working with a large variety of people throughout my time and learnt a lot about people from different backgrounds, religions and cultures.
If due to school or university, money, time or work commitments, a place at Summer camp is not feasible for you, like it was not for me, placement in the Extended Summer program is still very feasible and enjoyable and provides you with a lot more freedom to explore greater boundaries without missing out on the quintessential camp experience.
Coming into camp I had one goal, to meet and learn about a variety of people different to myself and enjoy every second. If you have similar goals to me, camp certainly gives you an opportunity to achieve this. And to be surrounded by a true Canadian fall and vast forests of pine trees beyond, is a pretty incredible way to do it.
Learn more about our Extended Summer Program