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Hello and welcome to episode three of the series ‘This One Time…’ If you’re unfamiliar with the series, every week a new travel related story will be posted either by me or a guest. In episode one I told the story of a time in Yosemite National Park when I almost had an encounter with a bear. This weeks story is all about This One Time in San Francisco when I had a very confusing room mate in my hostel. If you would like to keep up to date with this series then make sure to subscribe to my blog and if you would like to write for this series then be sure to email me at contact@earthtoconnie.com I welcome anyone with an interesting travel story to tell!

It was my last night in the United States, after three months of travelling and working on a Girl Scouts summer camp. The whole experience was more than anything I could’ve dreamed off. Being a lifeguard, tanning in the sun all day, was one of the greatest Jobs I had ever had. To top it all off, road tripping round California, Arizona and Nevada was phenomenal. A real dream come true.

But with everything in life, it was exhausting. The last couple of days I spent in San Francisco, I felt as if I was just waiting for my flight home. Of course, I saw the sights, spied on some sea lions at pier 39, but I was longing for that moment at Heathrow where I could just run into my mums arms. I was staying in a hostel close to Union Square. In a female dorm room, it was just me and this other girl, and for the most part something about this girl felt off to me. She never left the room, not once.

We avoided speaking, and she always preferred the lights off. So when I was escaping the lair at 7am I quite literally got dressed in the dark. I could feel her beady eyes upon me when her alarm startled me each morning. Was she judging me for waking up? I guess it’s safe to assume that this girl really

intimidated me. I kept my self to myself because I found I was quite weary of her. Not in the way that I felt unsafe, in the way that I felt awkward.

Anyway, I was only in San Fran for five days. The whole experience was bearable until 5 hours before my scheduled departure. Never had I ever felt my heart stop until that moment. Never had I ever felt real fear before. More importantly, never have I ever been so lost for words that I just ran. Ran to the bathroom, ran to reception, ran back to England…

When I had arrived that evening to my surprise she wasn’t in my room and her bag was sprawled open on her bed as if she had been packing to leave. I thought, this is great, my own private room for the last night of my travels. I could sleep for an extra hour knowing that her alarm and piercing eyes would not disturb me. I don’t remember much else, I think I fell asleep still in my clothes, no cover over me. All I can recall is the disorientation and possible hallucination that beheld me when I next awoke.

In early September, the heat was still unbearable. Your clothes clung to your skin and there’s almost no comfortable position to sleep in. The hostel’s air con was merely a fan that blew out warm air and I couldn’t remember how much water I had drunk the day before. When I awoke it was the middle of the night. My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and I noticed that the bed next to me was empty. Not a single item of clothing left in sight. She must’ve left.

I closed my eyes for a second and in the next, slowly from the floor she rose. She had been sleeping on the floor next to me and as she rose I gasped. In slow motion she turned her head and those beady eyes stared right into my soul. I jumped up onto my bed and shrieked. Somehow, she managed to lie back to sleep – if my shriek didn’t manage to wake her up I’m not sure what would’ve. I had bigger concerns, as I jumped upright I had forgotten that I was asleep on a bottom bunk. I swear I almost gave me concussion, but thank god for that because that was the only way I managed to fall back to sleep.

It doesn’t sound like much but picture this. You’re still half asleep and the moment you open your eyes there is just a face directly in front of you! Staring directly into your eyes – that’s enough to send anyone home on an early flight.

The strangest part of this whole experience was the fact that when I awoke, she and her bags were no where to be seen. Did I hallucinate her last night? Was she even a guest at all? I guess I’ve learned one thing from this whole experience. Drink your water! Being dehydrated can do funny things to the brain…

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Hello, and welcome to my first ever blogging series called, “This one time”. In this series, I plan to write a collection of posts full of different travel related stories. I promise you these will all be real accounts of my adventures, however, what I can not promise you is that they will be published once a week. It’s me. As extremely sarcastic and annoying I am, I do not hold the talent of being organised, and so, this time next week I’ll probably be munching away at some popcorn at the cinema forgetting I had even starting this series. I promise you I’m a good blogger sometimes.

Anyway, this weeks story is all about this one time I was at Yosemite National Park and I had a close encounter with a bear. That’s right, a bear! My inner Bear Grylls was summoned and if you would like to find out just how much I embarrassed myself then read on…

Working as a Camp Counsellor in the United States of America is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding things you could ever do. By challenging, I am referring to the late nights and early mornings; the 40 degree heat and last but not least, the homesick children. You will not understand what it feels like to be completely exhausted yet feel completely at home until you’ve worked as a camp counsellor. It is in those challenges where the memories began. It is when you feel you’re at your lowest, most sleep-deprived self when someone going that extra mile for you, makes you realise what true friendship is. Most importantly, it is when you see a child face a challenge they never thought they could and you see the gleam on their face, that you realise you have the best job in the world!

Being from the United Kingdom, a land far away that hosts tea parties and croquet competitions, we do not experience the ‘Summer Camp’ phenomenon quite like the Americans. This being said, having always fantasised about going to one and meeting my long lost twin and reuniting my parents, I decided to make my dream come true. (If you did not understand my Parent Trap reference there, you need to re-evaluate your film choices). My point being, I always knew I wanted to experience ‘Summer Camp’ since I discovered what it was. For me, it was unrealistic to dream of becoming a camper, however, after hearing about ‘Camp America’ and how they send people from all different countries to camp, the dream began to seem viable.

I decided, that the best time for me to go on this adventure, would be whilst at University. This was partly because I wanted to know what it would be like to spend so much time away from home in England before venturing abroad. My application began the moment I could for 2017. I didn’t have any skills that I thought would be essential; I didn’t horse-ride, I couldn’t rock-climb and I certainly did not see myself as a lifeguard. But the world works in mysterious ways, and before I knew it, I was at camp practicing CPR on a dummy. (Training as a lifeguard was INTENSE and if you want to hear more about how I survived then click here. ) You will always have doubts about getting placed so why not just apply anyway? Chances are you will, even if you believe yourself to be skill-less like me.

A Day at Camp Grove Point

  1. Wake up. This was the hardest part of the day for me as I am not a morning person. If you’re like me in that sense, do not worry. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are not night owls like yourself and so you can choose amongst yourselves who does the night shift and who does the morning shift.
  2. Breakfast. We were given a set menu each week at our camp. My favourite breakfast was American Scones. OMG I would fly back to the States tomorrow for another one of those.
  3. First two activities. As a lifeguard, I would usually be at the pool or waterfront. However, there were a range of activities that would be held, and this all depended on the theme of the week and what the weather was like. Some activities were: sailing, kayaking, archery, swimming, arts and crafts, nature and Drama.
  4. Lunch. At home I don’t eat three meals a day but as a camp counsellor YOU WILL NEED THOSE CARBS!
  5. Me time. Now you’re probably wondering what the hell this is. Hopefully, the name did not discourage you to look further because it is not what you think, I promise. I referred to it as NAP TIME. A 60 minute nap makes the world of difference.
  6. Two more activities. 
  7. Dinner. I remember one week at camp, ‘Bangers and Mash’ came on the menu and all the Brits were over the moon. It was just the best blessing.
  8. Evening Activity.
  9. Bed time. If you haven’t had a kid vomit or cry because they were homesick, you are looking to be able to hit your head on your pillow at around 11. As soon as that happens you will be dreaming in minutes.
  10. REPEAT


My Favourite Moments

My favourite week at camp was prank week. Although it was mainly designed for the kids, us counsellors also lost many hours of sleep plotting and scheming. A few of us had planned to spider web the leadership office with wool, clingfilm their belonging and fill the room with balloons. We met at 1am to carry this out, however for the first four nights something stopped us. It’s safe to safe by night four, the one where we carried it out, we were exhausted. We found it hilarious! However what we didn’t realise was that one of the children was allergic to latex and so immediately after leadership found it, we had to take it all down. Luckily, it was only our reputation that was hurt and so it turned out to be one of the funnier moments of camp.

Another favourite  week at camp was Harry Potter week. The leadership team planned it so well that even the counsellors were just as excited as the kids. At breakfast the sorting hat came round and we sorted into our houses. Leadership designed the weeks activities into which house could win the most house points. I no longer remember which team won however I do remember the Slytherin team always being accused of cheating, I wonder why…

I could ramble on all day about what my favourite moments at camp but unfortunately, I would need a whole other blog entirely (should I make that happen? Hmm…) The most important thing I will remember from camp will be the life lessons and the friendships.

What I took from Camp

Although there are challenges, these challenges make you a more rounded human being. The most important thing I learned  was to not take life too seriously. I felt so detached from the outside world that all I had to worry about was putting a smile on the children’s faces and being myself. I had the privilege of being away from any boy drama and not having to worry about my appearance or impressing anyone. Every morning was a new adventure, and now a new story to share. I just love camp and I will always want to return.

To anyone thinking about working as a camp counsellor in the USA my advice is to just do it! Taking risks is what life is all about!

The Water front at Camp Grove Point
The Water front at Camp Grove Point