I suppose this is the next post of my camp America series. I didn’t really intend on making so many posts on what I did last summer, but I’ve really enjoyed writing about my experience and offering advice based on my experience. You can read my other two posts here and here. I thought I would put together a little ‘day in the life’ camp edition to give everyone going to a Summer Camp in America an idea of what it was like working as a riding instructor.
I should note that my schedule was incredibly busy for a councillor, purely as I was a riding instructor and had four horses to look after, as well as a stable to run. There were three of us, and honestly it was a bit for a handful. We had a lot of lessons a day and we were always tired. But it was so worth it for the good times, and there was so many of those! Also, each camp is different, so some other may not have this busy a schedule. This was just my own experience.
7-30am: Up and at ‘em
Morning for the specialists is early rise. For generals its 8, with breakfast at 8-30, but for me who has to be at the stables early, its 7.30 rise and shine. Since there were 3 for us who cared for the horse’s we alternated it, which made quite a difference when we figured it out! So, I would get up, and get dressed before heading off to the stables which was quite the trek. Clothes wise, it was the usual sports bra, short sleeved or vest top, shorts and flip flops or trainers, depending on my mood. It was so hot every day, so the lighter the clothes the better,
7-45am: Feed the boys
Once at the stables, I would get in the horse and feed them their breakfast. Do you know how long they take to eat!? A really long time. So, once they were fed, I’d fetch them some fresh water and leave them in their stables.
8-15am: Feed myself
As soon as they were done, I’d head off to early breakfast. Sometimes I would get in at 8am, which was the dream. A quiet breakfast with no kids! Now, I’ve got to admit, breakfast was questionable. Usually I got something like cereal, but American breakfasts are so sweet! My favourite was something simple like the small potatoes they do. I would then rush and brush my teeth and make myself feel a little bit human before grabbing our schedule for the day and heading back to the stables to meet the others.
8-45am: Prepare for Day Camp
Once at the stables, we would chat about the schedule for the day and what horse to use when and who wanted to take/lead for which classes. We all had our favourites, so this was usually a given. Then we would prepare the horses for the first class and prepare ourselves.
9am: Day Camp Session 1
In the morning, our major schedule involved the day-camp kids. They would come to basically just sit on a horse which we would lead around once and then the next would go. So yes, we did this for about 45 minutes. It got dull, but the things the kids would tell you was always interesting. Once finished we would take the horse back for a drink and prepare for the next.
10am: Day Camp Session 2
This was very much the same as the last, we just repeated. Each time we switched out who lead the horse and who looked after the children.
11am: Day Camp Session 3
The last session of day camp riding.
12pm: Lesson/Free Time.
Usually, the mid-day slot of our day was free as it was too hot to run the horses in the middle of the heat, but we would on occasion have a lesson. If we did. We would prepare for that, but if not. We would let the horses out into the field and check their waters before going off for a free. This was the time I would phone my family or go and relax in the bunk. It was so hot that all I wanted to do was just read my book or have a nap, so I would take the opportunity to relax in the cooler cabin. It should be noted that the cabins were not airconditioned, but they were cooler than outside…
1pm: Lunch Time
I was always pretty lucky, as I could get to lunch early as a horseback, eg. Before the kids! So I would make my way in for lunch at 1, despite it starting officially at 1-30 ( I think). Lunch was always a little questionable, but it was always hot meal so I’ll take it. The food at camp is awful, I’m going to be super honest, so if you’re picky learn to not be really quick or your going hungry. I had two friends who literally struggled so much with food. One desided to talk to the chef, who was super nice and would sneak us apples and carrots for the horses, and they figured it out. The other literally went hungry.
Anyway. I always found something and if we were lucky they had mozzarella sticks (literally the best thing on this earth right?). Id always eat as quick as I could, fill up my thermos with the juice and take the opportunity to use the councillor’s computers in the office. This was the best and often only time I could get on them. There were 3 of them and 60+ councillors who wanted to contact home.
2-30pm: Lesson 1.
At 2.15, it was time to head back to the stables with the girls and prep for the lesson. The way we ran this was each of us led up to 2 times a day and taught once. It did depend on the kids we had scheduled for the day, but that’s the general idea. Whoever was taking the lesson picked the horse and who went on which. So usually we’d get the little kids in the late afternoon, so I’d either led or if I wasn’t needed, those who weren’t needed would muck out or if we were clean sunbath!
3-30pm: Lesson 2
Lesson 2 of the day was usually mine as I liked the little kids. They were more fun for me and we played games like ‘Simon-says’. So, I would usually take this class with the others leading. Each lesson lasted about 45-50 minutes, but it depended on how late the kids turned up. Occasionally they would turn up 30 minutes into the lesson and expect to get straight on. If they were really late, we would get them to do ‘pony club’ – which was basically grooming and learning the points of the pony. Some were really into this, some less so.
4-30pm: Either Lesson 3 or Clean up
Usually the third class of the day were the teenaged boys and surprise, surprise they rarely even turned up! So usually we would wait to see them walking up, then tack up for them. If they didn’t turn up we spent the hour cleaning up, feeding the horses and getting the boys ready for a night outside. Once done, I’d head back to the bunk to help get the kids through the shower.
5-30: Bunk time
Now I can’t actually remember the name for this bit, but it’s basically like a wind down time where all the kids have to go through the shower ready for dinner. So I would go and help yell at the kids to get them through the shower. Usually I’d catch up with my co’s here and just chill out before dinner.
Dinner time was the same time for everyone and it was pretty much the same as lunch. The food was atrocious and very repetative but everyone got favourites. And ou could often make it so much better. So, for example, if it was the meetball sub, I would just get meatballs and the sauce, then got to tha salad bar and get pasta, mushrooms and carrot and BAM! A much better meal. Plus, it was the desserts you really wanted! Rob, the chef, made an amazing chocolate cake and I really loved the vanilla ‘american pudding’ thing.
7-30pm: Activity 1… Usually.
You may have noticed before that I noted that we got the kids through the showers, but more often than not it would take the full hour to get them all through so we wouldn’t get them to go through. So, while the others showered later, Tasha (lifeguard and one of my best friends at camp) would chat about our day and go through the showers. Not much at camp beats trying to shout to the next shower about what one of the horses did that day. We’d take the opportunity to chill out a bit and catch up. I should note that everyone else was at the first night activity, which changed every evening.
8pm: Activity 2.
By 8 it was time for the second activity, and this was mandatory, so we would head out to join the bunk and have some fun with the kids before their bed time.
9pm: OD or Freedom!
9pm marked the best time of the day for a lot of councillors! It was the time in which we were done for the day and could do whatever we liked. Some decided to go out to the diner down the road, or the tiki-room to get some good food. Some went to Walmart to get some snacks to hide away (honestly food was the currency of camp!). Often, I liked to stay in camp and help out at what we called canteen, although all the bris out there will know it more as a tuck-shop. I really enjoyed scooping ice cream for the kids and handing out sweets, as I got to figure out all the American ‘candy’ compared to the Uk stuff. Ours is still so much better in my mind, but America did have some awesome stuff. Like come on! Those mini M&M’s!! Sometimes though I would head out with some friends to Wawa or the diner.
For those unlucky souls On-Duty or on OD ( I know bad grammer but it soulds wrong to just say “so are you OD?”), you had to stay and watch the kids. You had OD once every 3 days, and you basically just had to make sure the kids went to bed on time and were asleep. It was usually actually really fun, as once the kids were asleep you could sit on the porch and just chat away with you co. It wasn’t that bad to be honest.
So curfew was the end of OD and essentially the day. Sometimes we would sit out on the porches and chat away until we were told off by upper-staff. Although we go the skill of falling silent and blending into the shadows down by the end of the summer! Honestly, I was usually so tired by the day that I would just head to bed around curfew anyway.
And that was my daily schedule. Every day was different at camp so I have just done a generalisation. Some days the kids would have a trip, so I’d get a half day and get to go to the mall in the afternoon and some days I didn’t get 1 free hour. It was so dependable. Hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect from day to day at camp. I had an incredibly busy schedule, in fact one of the worse at camp, purely because of the horse and how much extra work there is. Some of my friend shad 4 free hours a day. It’s so dependable. Thanks for reading and if you’re going to camp let me know below what position you have.