A Whaley Bridge woman is preparing for her fourth year as a summer camp leader in the United States, and hopes to encourage more young people to try the experience.
Summer camp is a traditional way for American kids to spend the school holidays, and young people from all over the world meet up there to make it happen. Many of the seasonal staff return year after year.
Student Catherine Brown, 21, will head for New Hampshire next summer, where she is an established support worker at a camp for people with special needs.
She said: “Summer camp can be the highlight of the year for campers and staff. You spend your vacation doing your favourite sports and activities, mostly outdoors and always with friends. Campers with special needs join in on their own terms.
“Wheelchairs or learning disabilities are no barrier to having fun - swimming, sailing, zip-wires, painting, singing and dancing.
“As camp counsellors, we’re there to keep them safe and happy while they do it.”
Catherine says she first applied for the role as an adventure, a way to get work experience and the chance to travel.
Looking back, she said: “I was terrified and excited at the same time. But it’s been a life-changing experience.
“Besides the campers, I now have friends on five continents. I found I could cope with challenges ranging from broken wheelchairs to stroppy teenagers and snapping turtles. And I settled on the career I am now training for at university.”
Catherine has proved so successful in her role that she is now responsible for advising other people from south Manchester and the High Peak who are interested in the opportunities.
She explained: “You apply through an agency like Camp Leaders, who organise the selection process, sort out your visa and travel arrangements, and provide advice and support throughout.
“Anyone can apply who is aged over 18, who’s keen, energetic and available from mid-June to late August.
“There’s all sorts of jobs and different camps - coaching sports, pastoral care, or support work like catering.”
To find out more, visit www.campleaders.com or email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.