An Unforgettable Summer at Camp America - Kibble fostering

An Unforgettable Summer at Camp America

This summer, Connor, a young person at Kibble realised his dream to travel to the USA and work at the elusive Camp America. The journey to get there was long, and at times arduous, but his unwavering commitment to working at one of the world’s most famous children’s camps, meant he gave his all and had the time of his life.

Connor had always wanted to travel to the States, and inspired by others in his friend’s circle who had worked a summer at Camp America, decided to set this on his horizons. The decision to go was bourne out of a conversation he had with family support worker, Lisa, whose son had just returned from the trip. Lisa encouraged Connor to look into it further and decide if he wanted to take the idea forward. This was a big step for Connor, who at the age of 21, had never travelled without his foster carers and described himself as a “home bird”. After reviewing the website, he knew this was for him and so applied on line to take part in the interview process.

He successfully got through the first stage of the process and an initial call with the team at Camp America identified that Connor would make a good swimming instructor due to his interest and abilities. To ensure this was right for Connor, he was set a physical training programme by the Camp which included ten weeks of arduous training to build up his stamina in the water. Connor could climb a hill like a mountain goat according to Lisa, however he needed to work on his strength and endurance. So committed to his goal, Connor set the alarm for 7am three times a week to go swimming before college where he swam 30 lengths each time and built his strength at treading water. Lisa went along with Connor, and often Lisa’s son would join them too for added peer support and encouragement.   

After ten weeks of training, Connor had passed the interview process with flying colours and was set for a summer of adventure in Lake Connecticut, Massachusetts.

But there was no time to rest, next stop Connor had to travel to the American Embassy in London to attain his Visa and complete all necessary checks. He travelled to London with Lisa, who ensured that he was able to navigate his way there, as well as around the city. This was important as Connor would be required to do this on his own when he eventually travelled to the States.

On the 5th of June, the big day finally arrived for Connor to travel to the States and begin his Camp America Adventure. He was both nervous and excited, but had contacted another young person travelling too which made the experience a little less daunting. He waved cheerio to his foster family and held his head high as he stepped through the airport gates. Next stop… New York!

Connor spent two days in the Big Apple and took in the sights and sounds of the city! He saw the Statue of Liberty looming in the distance, the bright lights of Broadway and the famous Central Park. After a whistle wind tour, he boarded the train to the camp at Lake Connecticut alongside a number of other excited camp mates.

On arrival, they made their way to their tents to unpack their things and get to know the others at the camp.  After a long day, everyone wearily went to their bunkbeds for some much-needed sleep before further training the following day. The training involved a swim test, and three days of lifeguard training which included diving for weights, and collecting hoops to sustain holding his breath. He also had to do CPR training and a theory test. Safe to say Connor passed the test and was ready to welcome a group of very excited children to experience their first summer at Camp America.

With the camp in full swing, Connor was primarily in the vital role of life guard by the lake. However, he also took part in other areas of the camp including creative arts, boating, swim lessons, climbing and mountain biking. He worked six days a week, with one evening off where he could catch up on washings and other duties. He excelled in everything that he did and no task was too much! He made great connections with the kids and staff alike.

“We all looked out for each other and had each other’s back. The kids were amazing and used to shout King Connor. We had so much fun and I have made friends for life.”

At the end of 11 weeks, it was time to head back home. The summer in Camp America had been life-changing for Connor and he was so proud of what he had achieved. He stepped out of his comfort zone and immersed himself in a new country, culture and group of people. The experience can’t be underestimated and Connor has made memories that will stay with him his whole life.

When he touched down in Glasgow, he couldn’t wait to share his stories with his foster family and Lisa who were eagerly waiting with banners to welcome him home. With America ticked off the list, the world is his oyster, and with a love for music and travel we can’t wait to hear where Connor’s next adventure will take him.