Written By: Nick Murphy
In 2012 I was sat in a University lecture for my Bachelor of Primary Education program, hearing about how we should explore ways to enhance our resumés and increase the scope of our experience working with children. I started to think about how I had not done much work with children with disabilities, despite my interest in doing so. So I went home and started to research how I might address this and soon came to NYQUEST Camp Canada; Canadian summer camp jobs for international staff. I was very excited about this as I had worked in Canada before and was looking for an opportunity to return to the amazing country.
I applied online, the process was really simple and user-friendly, and NYQUEST Camp Canada got in touch with me to learn more about my hobbies and interests. I highlighted to them that I wished to work with children with disabilities and they were very receptive to this and quickly placed me in a fantastic camp for children with physical disabilities in Ontario. Before I knew it I was packing up and flying out to camp in Canada! My first stop was Toronto for an orientation with NYQUEST Camp Canada, however, I flew out a couple of days prior to this so I could do a bit of sightseeing in the city; CN Tower, Niagara Falls etc.
Applying to work abroad in a Camp through NYQUEST Camp Canada was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. My first summer was an absolutely incredible experience. Challenging, exciting, inspiring and rewarding. I subsequently returned there for another four summers, despite the fact that my original goal of obtaining experience for my resumé had been met.
My favourite activities at camp were water-based as I had not had much experience of water-activities in England. My camp was situated on a peninsular and offered sailing, canoeing, and kayaking which I did as often as I could. I’ve always loved the outdoors and so being involved with out-trips, hikes, fishing and archery on a day-to-day basis was absolutely brilliant. I loved getting up in the morning to start working.
However, the real reason that I loved camp, and returned for five consecutive summers, was the campers themselves. I am ashamed to say that before camp I had very limited knowledge of different disabilities. Through camp, I gained invaluable experience that taught me how to engage effectively with children with disabilities and facilitate their interaction with activities. I learned how to use various methods of communication and support engagement in a way that helped a camper to succeed whilst promoting their independence.
Every camper, through the excellent equipment and resources available, could access every camp activity. It was really amazing to see individuals do things that they never thought they would be able to do or do an activity for the first time; such as sailing or kayaking. I felt blessed to be a part of that experience and loved the fact that I could help them to succeed.
I made some lifelong friends working at camp. I believe that camp attracts a certain personality and type of individual and so you quickly make strong bonds with the other camp counsellors around you. Through these close friendships, I was able to see more of Canada as I often went exploring on days off with my new friends. I camped in Algonquin park, visited amazing cities like Montreal, Kingston, and Ottawa and even took a week long road trip to Gaspé peninsular or Canada’s eastern coast.
All the amazing experiences I had were made possible through NYQUEST Camp Canada whose personal and professional approach helped me very step of the way. Camp has given me a wealth of knowledge and skills that I have transferred to my teaching career, a close group of friends and a bank of amazing memories. I whole-heartedly encourage everybody to give summer camp a try – it may just be the greatest thing that you ever do.