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Specialist Camp applicant overlooking scenery

Day in the Life of a Specialist

Hi! I’m Melissa, and I’ve just returned from the best Summer of my life, at Eden Village Camp in New York State, where I worked as a music specialist.

When going through the AmeriCamp application, you’re prompted to choose between two main roles- either support staff, or a Camp counsellor.

As the majority of applicants do, I applied to be a Camp counsellor. I was good with kids, I had picked up various relevant skills in my time as a Scout, doing my Duke of Edinburgh award, and in university societies, so no job seemed a better fit to me!

Of course with a job that’s so popular with so many, I heard the stereotypes. I would be living in a technology nope-zone, bunking with Campers, spending 24 hours a day with Campers, basically breathing in Campers as I went about my life. And while this really did sound exciting to me (and it should to you too!) I ended up in a bunk of three other 18-20 year olds, two of whom were support staff, and one a lifeguard; while we definitely had our Camp drama, they certainly weren’t the eight-to-twelve-year-old roommates that I expected upon placement.

I heard nothing about the chance of having a Camp experience like the one I had the pleasure of before placement, and therefore, I present to you, the day in the life of a specialist!

My days started at 7:45 AM. Eden Village happened to be a Jewish Camp, and we therefore had some fun little judaic nuggets of wisdom thrown in here and there. My day started with Modeh Ani, a ‘morning stretch’ sort of activity, where Campers were able choose an activity to start the day on a positive note. These activities were led by the specialists, and included everything from sacred hebrew letter writing to goat herding to singing your esophagus out. My option was the cheap and cheerful ‘staring at the lake’ -very popular with older Campers.

After Modeh Ani came breakfast, one of the most musical parts of the day. After each meal, our music team would lead a blessing (I was the drummer) and the whole Camp would sing and dance along. During the meals however, was some of my best quality time with the Campers. To give general counsellors a well-earned break, we would eat our meals at the tables of one of the bunks, and were aptly named Bunkles (Bunk Uncles- it’s gender neutral.) Despite not living with them, I got really close with my bunk, The Abzug Girls, during meals, and got ridiculously excited when they came to me for music class.

After breakfast was prep time- a time I got to spend with my amazing music co-workers. You will never meet a team as adorable as the music specialists at Eden Village I promise! We spent this time self-caring the heck out of each other, discussing our plans for the day, and generally just catching up.

After this, the real work began. I had four teaching periods a day, two of which were bunk rotations, in which one group of Campers came at a time, and I would simply teach them guitar, ukulele, or djembe (African drum). Following these, I would have Chugim, which was a kind of five-day project, which I could completely make up myself. In these periods, I spent five hour long periods across five days teaching a specific skill, and I taught everything from invent your own instrument to Camp choir; I even snuck in a small musical production completely roasting the senior staff toward the end of Camp – an adorable 12-year-old boy played one of our assistant directors and it was the definition of comedy.

Anyway, after those four periods, as well as lunch and a couple of other to-dos, I was free for the evening. Often specialists would spend this time going to a local lake and showing off our favourite bikinis, or simply hanging out around Camp.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Eden Village, and have already begged to return for a second year. Those of you who are worried about having a role like this and not having that closeness with Campers and other staff- don’t be, no matter what your job is, it will be the best you’ve ever had, all you have to do is throw yourself into it!