Rory Brenan - Outdoor Activities Instructor
"The camp where I am placed covers something like 1000 acres I think (it really is an enormous site), and is split into two 'ends' about 2km apart: Chief Hector end and Bowfort end. Sunship Earth (the program I work on) is at Bowfort end, while everyone else is up at Hector (with some programs actually running in between). I work a 4-day week from Tuesday to Friday with kids, while Monday is used for staff training and stuff like that (although this coming Monday we will be hiking to the top of a mountain which should be pretty cool!). The camp is right at the foot of a couple of mountains, with several others in clear sight, and despite a week of warm sunny weather there is still some snow on most of them. Spruce trees are everywhere!
Now, what about my first week as an actual camp counsellor? It was weird, difficult and nerve wrecking but lots of fun! The kids are a handful, most of the time they don't listen (male counsellors are always given groups of boys), and they babble incessantly. But still, lots of fun all round and they come up with some pretty cool ideas, so that's good fun. Basically the week consists of lots of games, some activity-based learning, a little quiet time (again, the boys struggle with even the concept of quiet), plus three 'trails' where we try to teach them about how earth works and the environment and a whole bunch of stuff like that, through a series of activities.
The school has a choice of whether the kids sleep in tipis or cabins, and so far the boys have always been put in cabins which means each night during the week we have 2-3 of the 7 male counsellors sleeping in 'the longhouse' with all the boys, while the rest of us get the night off in our tipi. Tipi living is pretty good fun, we have a fire every night although as the weather warms up it doesn't seem quite so necessary.
Anyways that sort of sums up my first week. Lots of interesting stuff happened, some good some bad but all a learning experience - it's amazing how quickly you can pick up counselling skills as well as getting to know the kids and especially your fellow counsellors - I already feel like I've been here ages - yet it came as a shock when one of the others pointed out we only have four weeks of spring camp left before my 2-week break; I need to start planning what I'm going to do in that break! The group I work with consists of about 14 counsellors, plus 3 program support staff - my bosses. Of my co-counsellors, there are 4 Britons and 3 other Aussies, with rest locals or at least Canadians. Everyone is pretty cool.
Moving on to the second week of kids now. My group this week was quite different in a lot of ways, heaps more energy than the first lot and I figured that would mean they'd be more of a handful, but they were also more enthusiastic and I think took to me a lot more. So all in all they weren't too much trouble, or at least less than I was expecting - although my counselling skills have improved, they aren't yet at the level where there's any such thing as an easy group. All in all the work is definitely hard and tiring, but also lots of fun - you spend lots of time playing games with the kids and the long hours make it that much better when you can spend time with your mates so our group of counsellors also has a lot of fun together.
Last week was spent in Calgary which was pretty cool fun, didn't do much of the touristy stuff, but went to a Canadian mall which was HUGE and lots of fun - everything is so cheap too! Even Australian brands like Billabong are cheaper over here than in Aus. Not sure how that works... but I'll definitely be doing some shopping while I can. Went out Friday and Saturday with a bunch of other camp staff and just chilled out at a couple of their houses, got two awesome brekkies and an even better brunch which was cool! Everyone is pretty awesome and friendly and generous."