Mizz Magazine: Camp Uncovered

July 24 Aug 2002

So it’s summer – and you’ve got nothing planned for the next six weeks except a double dose of telly. You’re feeling down cos all your mates are off on their hols and you’re well and truly bored! If this sounds like you, maybe you should check out what’s on offer at summer camp. There’s loads of really cool stuff to do, including outdoor activities, art-and-craft sessions, day trips, BBQs and discos. Plus, you get to spend your summer making a whole load of new friends. There are tons of camps all over the country and the residential camps (where you stay for the whole week) usually cater for 6-26 year olds. So what are you waiting for?

I’m scared I’ll miss home

Don’t feel silly if you’re a bit nervous about staying away from your folks cos it’s normal. The great thing is there’s so much to do at summer camp that it’s unlikely you’ll even have time to miss Ma. Ed O’Connor is manager of a residential camp owned by holiday organisation XUK. In two years’ experience, he reckons that they rarely have to deal with people feeling homesick. “It’s usually just the younger ones,” he explains. “But if you are feeling freaked at being away from home, our staff are totally approachable so you can feel comfortable talking through any problems with them.”

If you’re really not happy, don’t get stressed out – cos you can always head back home. “It’s not a prison, you’re here to enjoy yourself,” assures Ed. “If you are feeling uncomfortable you’re free to leave at any time. Or if you wanna chat to your folks, you can use the office phone and talk to them in private for as long as you like.”

Will I find it difficult to make friends?

Not at all. In fact, it’s totally the opposite – you’ll probably find you’ll leave camp with a whole bunch of mates to keep in touch with ‘til next year. The best thing about summer camps is that you get to meet loads of people who are totally different from your friends back home. There are campers from all over the country and even some from abroad!

The best way to make friends is to get involved. Try not to be shy and just get stuck in. Remember, the more you put into summer camp, the more you’ll get out of it. Camps are really friendly and you’ll find that most of them have zero tolerance when it comes to nasty stuff like bullying.

I’m a really fussy eater.Will I like the food?

Forget school dinner and being forced to clear your plate, cos most summer camps offer a wide selection of food for you to choose from. It’s common for camps to be nut-free zones, so allergy sufferers can relax and be sure that they can eat what ever they like without having to worry – just ask before you book.

Where will I sleep?

Most residential camps have dormitories where you’ll sleep with seven or eight other girls. But, before you start imagining draughty rooms with lumpy beds, you’ll be surprised to hear that the dorms are generally really comfy. They may not be as cosy as your own bedroom – but think of giant sleepovers every night and you’re on the right track!

I hate leaving!

Alex, 13, has been going to camp for the past three years…

“Camp was sooo much better than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be a bit like a school trip. But you get loads more freedom and the leaders are your friends – they’re not like teachers. My favourite leader is Rebecca, cos she’s really sweet. I felt like I could talk to her about anything. We chatted about boys and if we had any problems, we could go to her with them. It was a bit like having a big sister for the week.

“The evening activities are usually the best – on Friday night, there’s a talent show where you can do whatever you want. People do stuff like dancing, singing or magic tricks. At my school, everyone makes fun of you for being into that, but here there’s such a nice atmosphere, you just have a laugh.

“I was worried that I was going to be homesick, or that people wouldn’t like me, but I was too busy to miss anyone. The worst bit about camp was having to go home. I’ve made so many friends from going. It’s really cool too, cos you mix with older ones (who are 14-16), so you make friends who aren’t even the same age as you.

“You can phone your folks every day but my parents usually tell me off for not calling them enough – I’m having so much fun I forget!”