I’ve always loved travelling and being in the outdoors, so volunteering as an outdoor activities instructor in Canada seemed like a great idea.
Travelling to a new country, to a camp where you know no one before you arrive is a scary thought, but one that I looked forward to. Truthfully there was nothing to be worried about, the people that I work with are amazing and throughout our first week of training, we became close friends. Our current 12 staff members come from five different countries which is incredible, making it crazy to imagine where in the world the 180 staff in summer will be from.
I’ve been pretty lucky with my first season at Camp Chief Hector, because it’s been an unseasonably warm winter. This means that the coldest temperature that we’ve had during the day was around -25oC, and that I now consider anything above -10oC as warm. This is a big change from where I live in Australia where anything below +10oC as cold. You adjust quickly though, and the cold doesn’t interfere with your work.
After a week of training, I had my first group of 12 kids to instruct by myself. Going into the week, I was confident and hopeful that it would go smoothly. Turns out that I got a “difficult” group to work with, making my first day seem really hard. However, as the week progressed I realised that this was a great challenge and opportunity. I learnt more about counselling that week than I would have if I had an “easier” group.
A typical week during the winter season includes counselling a group of 8 to 12 kids for four days. Our days consist of; 8.30am breakfast, 12.30pm lunch and 5.30pm dinner with activities in between. These activities include low ropes, challenge course, drama, team building activities and larger group games. After dinner, we get about an hour and a half off, before we round up all the students for campfire. Now, if you’ve never sung in front of a large group of people before, this can be nerve racking. However, it’s also a lot of fun and so rewarding that it’s one of my favourite things to do at camp.
I am having so much fun so far and can’t believe that two months have already gone by leaving only five more to go. I am really happy that I chose to come to Canada, I’ve already learnt a great deal and have experienced so much that it is unbelievable. My favourite thing is the atmosphere created by working with a group of like-minded people from various backgrounds, as well as how rewarding instructing a young group of children is.
Submitted by: Demi Shale