Camp America – students visit Camp Laughing Waters before exploring the USA

11 August, 2022 2:05 pm

Earlier this year, Keighley College teamed up with Camp America to offer up to 90 students a once-in-a-lifetime work experience opportunity in the United States over the summer. The trip, designed to hone students’ employability skills as they look after and become role models to children at the camp, included travel, accommodation and living costs.

Keighley College’s principal, Kevin O’Hare, travelled out to see how the camp counsellors were getting on and has been sending back his notes from the road. Here is part one.

I arrived in America on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday I drove to a camp called Laughing Waters, in Gilbertsville, East Pennsylvania, with a representative from Camp America UK. We were visiting two of the students, Aanisha Anisko and Jamie-Leigh MacLaughlin, who are working with young American campers aged 9-17 after completing their studies.

Camp Laughing Waters has around 100 campers per week who undertake a range of activities whilst living in this 500-acre site in rural Pennsylvania. It has horses, a swimming pool, art and craft areas and a huge indoor climbing wall. The setting is breathtaking.

There are around 50 staff working on-site and half of these are young European students getting the experience to lead activities with groups. Each counsellor (as they are called) has a self-chosen camp name; Aanisha is “Dory” and Jamie is “Target”.

Participants have the option of extending their stay, by up to 30 days, to further explore the US after they have completed their nine-week placement. Jamie and Aanisha have made fantastic friendships, which have led to plans for further travel after the summer camp closes for the season. 

Jamie says she feels a new level of responsibility after leading the groups. This has really boosted her confidence, which has in turn given her an incentive to explore the world more. She is learning to speak Hungarian, having already picked up numbers, colours and animals. After camp, she plans to travel around America for a month, visiting Chicago, Ohio, Michigan and Rhode Island, before travelling to Hungary with her new friends later in the year.

You can see a snapshot of what life on a Camp America placement is like here.