Travel: “Best overnight ever”

After camp Olympics, I thought any other day would be pretty hard to match it. However on Friday evening a group of us decided to make the most if our night off and head out of camp.

We didnt escape the luxuries that come with camp as the bugs, sweaty bodies and uncomfortable nights sleep still existed on this particular night.

We went hiking up a huge hill, sleeping bag and bikini readily packed. I must be the lamest hiker at camp as I plodded along at the back, complaining, sweating and nearly dying! I daren’t dream of what I must of looked like once I reached the top!!

By the time we reached the top I was so tired I could barely hold a conversation with anyone.

As soon as we got there, John Teva’s survival instincts set in and he went off into the jungle to gather some fire wood.

Callum, a New Zealand adventurer, used magnesium stuff to light the fire. It is pretty handy having a group of guys who all seem to be really into building fires! Actually I think it is generally all males who like playing with fire!

The night consisted of making s’mores, chomping on steak and campfire stories. It was a very enjoyable evening spent with a great group of people.

It was so enjoyable we didn’t end up drifting off to sleep until 4am, by which time the sun was coming up.

Snuggling down in my sleeping bag, crammed between two strong men (for protection from the two dear we saw and bears) in a four way spoon, I actually managed to get a reasonably good few hours sleep.

When I woke up, Steve was already in the middle of cooking breakfast; bacon, egg and sausage with Sunny D! As I was drinking the Sunny D I was reminded of how my mum used to only allow my sister and I to drink it occasionally because it apparently made us hyper.

Steve made me breakfast as I lounged about on my sleeping bag. Ashley had leant me her black pants that are apparently really big in America; Solos. They were pretty comfy and to me they just looked like yoga pants. John was so ‘frickin’ Teva’ he decided to not bring a sleeping bag and ended up sleeping in a ball wrapped in just a sheet – must have been so comfy!

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Once I had let my breakfast digest (I have been taught well, I didn’t want cramp lol) I went jumping off a rock into the lake. It took me a while to build up the courage to actually jump but I did it in the end. It was very refreshing and we all ended up spending the majority of the morning mulling around in the lake.

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At about 12 we started to pack up our belongings and decided to head back to camp. The hike down hill was quite enjoyable in comparison to the hike up. I was able to appreciate the Forrest with the all its creatures, including frogs and mini little orange lizard things.

Once I finally made it back to my unit I ended up sleeping from half 2 until half 7 in Ashley’s bunk. Her bed is so comfy and her fan is very powerful which makes it the perfect spot to nap. It has become a regular thing that I nap in Ashley’s bunk now and she just laughs about it!

That evening, Steve, Ashley, Casey, Laura and I went out to eat at a local diner. I had the French onion soup with a side order of fries which was a nice change from camp food.

So far this week camp has been pretty mellow. It has been so hot that I found it difficult to walk the half a mile between Teenside and Mainside. I managed to spend a lot of time in the air conditioned office, which was heaven, as I have begun preparing the all camp slideshow. This involved skimming through all the photographs that have been taken so far and choosing a few hundred. A difficult task considering we take, on average, 400 photos a day.

At the beginning of the week it rained a fair amount and the loud thunder feels like it is shaking you. The weather here goes from one extreme to the other. I can’t really complain about the rain as it at least cools down a little.

The campers in Ashley’s bunk always seem to have amazing food. I have been introduced to double stuffed Oreos dipped in Nutella! I don’t think I will be loosing any weight whilst I am at camp now!!

The last couple of days have been, what I describe as, your typical days at camp. 8.15am breakfast, teach some kids photography, take pictures of kids doing their activities, walk half a mile to the office and upload pictures, 1pm lunch, take some more pictures of kids doing activities, walk back to Teenside, nap, dinner, bed.

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On Monday evening a muscial band known as the Shlomones came to camp and everyone gathered in the Eddie Canter Theatre to watch them perform. I had to take pictures of the event but half way through I ended up cheering and dancing along with it all. I am pretty sure most people found it horrifically cheesey but for some strange and shameful reason I always seem to love the camp shows that they put on.

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After the show we went back to the diner and I had the soup again. It is so good! I also ordered lemon meringue pie which was ok! Huge but just ok.

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On Wednesday night I had to sit on duty (OD) which requires you to make sure all the campers are in their bunks and stay in their bunks until they drift to sleep. I have done 2 so far and they are normally very boring and tiresome. This time was pretty fun as another counselor ended up drawing a beautiful henna tattoo on my hand.

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Yesterday night it was Casey’s birthday so we all piled into Ashley’s car and headed for a nearby bowling alley. On the way we got lost and Casey and I went a little crazy. I have no idea why we found saying hashtag before every sentence so hysterical but we did and I think it will forever be hilarious. I felt like dressing up last night so I did my hair and makeup for the first time in like 2 weeks. It felt goooood!

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As always, the week has been tiring yet a lot of fun.

 

A lot of the photographs featured on this post are curtesy of Dan Cleare 🙂

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Travel: Leaving England…

The day of my flight finally arrived. Up bright and early, I made my way to Heathrow airport, terminal 3, with my friend Chris.

It was nice to be able to travel to the airport with someone as it made it less stressful. The previous day I had made the journey from Devon to London and I spent the night at Chris’.

Once at the airport we sailed through check in and security. The buzzer didn’t go off when I walked through which was a surprise. Whilst waiting to board the plane I savoured my last English bacon butty and spotted the Ted Baker shop.

Chris’ flight was at 2pm so once I had munched my way through the bap it was time to say our goodbyes.

Alone at the airport, I headed to Ted Baker to ‘just have a look’. When I realised all the stuff was half price I made a beeline for the purses. I have wanted one of these purses for over a year now so was so excited to find they only cost £35 instead of there usual £75. Extremly happy with my bargain I walked away and decided to look around the seating area to see if I could see anyone else with a Camp America (CA) top on. I walked over to a girl and we gave eachother an awkward smile. I motioned to sit next to her and she seemed willing. We ended up chatting until the flight was due to board and at that point there was a big group of CA travelers. It was all very exciting which made the pre flight nervs sudside.

A very excitable and friendly girl asked if I wouldn’t mind being intereviewed as she was a vlogger for CA. Knowing how difficult it can be to get people to comply I agreed. It was all light hearted fun, with cheering and laughter.

After walking through the tunnel that connects the plane to the airport, I found my seat and waited with baited breath to find out who my ‘plane partner’ was going to be. A young guy came and sat next to the window which left one seat in the middle. I waited and waited until the pilot began to tell us we were about to take off before coming to the conclusion thatI  actually didn’t have anyone sitting next to me. I could barely believe my luck, first a half price purse and now extra leg room and no worries of someone smelling of BO.

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Take off always makes me feel weird, my tummy feels like it is being bounced up and down. Once in the air I began to watch Les Mis. Half way through the film, just as the melas were being handed out, we hit some turbulance. I began feeling rather ill so once the seatbelt signs were turned off I headed for the toilet to be sick. Typical me!

After that I felt fine and carried on watching the film and eating the just about edible plane food. It was funny how they described the food on the menu, it made it sound delightful.

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On the plane there were rows and rows of CA travelers, I made friends with the girl who sat across the walkway. Her name was Kate and during the flight she just began laughing at me because I was kitted out with so much plane gear. I had kids ear plugs that helped relieve the pain you get in your ears when flying, a cool strip for my forehead, PJs to keep comfy and my inflatable neck pillow. I recommend everyone get these essential flying itemsto make your journey better!

After I finished watching Life of Pi it was nearly time to land. Once on the ground, we headed through security and boy do they hate it if you use your phones. A mean looking man hovered over us and waited for this boy to notice his mistake before humiliating him infront of the rest of the que. I’m just glad it wasn’t me!

The whole security process was a little scary. I wasn’t particularly scared until I approached the desk and the security guy through my passport back at me and told me to remove the cover. He was so rude!

I was amazed at how quickly and easy it was to retrieve my suitcase. The whole airport experiece almost felt too good to be true.

We then all piled onto a couch and were dropped off at the hotel were we were to spend the night before heading to camp.

Photography: Camp America project planning, ‘create a rainbow’

Whilst I am in America, I will be teaching children photography and I have therefore had to prepare various projects that I propose to teach them.

The campers range in ages from 7-15 years so I have produced a number of activities that cater for these different age groups. Over the next few weeks I plan on producing examples for the children to look at so they understand what it is they are expected to produce.

Today I carried out the ‘Create a rainbow’ project. This requires each camper to go out and find different things that have the colours of the rainbow. They will need to take photographs of these objects so that when the images are put together they form the colours of a rainbow. What will make this project interesting is the different textures/patterns that will appear on each colour.

Within this exercise the campers will be taught about macro photography and the importance of looking at things differently to see if they can create an interesting photograph by getting close to the subject.

Here is my example:

Rainbow Project Example

Comment: Visit to Argos, I mean the Embassy

I headed to London last Wednesday for my Visa appointment which was at 8am the following day. Luckily I have a nice friend (Josh) who let me stay the night so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel because London hotel prices are ridiculous!

Whilst on the train a man came and sat opposite me, I glanced up from my book in curiosity. On deciding he was not as interesting as my book I returned to reading. He was chatting on the phone for a while and I thought nothing of him. I then heard him say goodbye and out the corner of my eye I saw him retrieve a black notebook from his bag. He opened his black book and began drawing. I only assumed he was drawing because he kept turning the book from side to side whilst putting pencil to paper. Looking down at my kindle I sensed someone was watching me, I quickly glanced up and was shocked to find the man quickly glance back to his notepad. After this happened several times I began to think that he may be drawing me. My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed that there was a drawing of another girl on the facing page.

I did not really know what to do so I a sheepishly sat there knowing a strange man was drawing me, in his little BLACK book. The fact that the book was black is what freaked my out. I then thought that this is ridiculous so I decided to get my own back by taking a picture of him. You know…just incase he is a serial killer. I now have evidence.

1368631483152After an eventful/slightly bizarre journey, I finally arrived at Paddington Station where I caught the tube to Brixton to meet Josh.

That evening Josh decided he wanted to bake some cakes. I agreed to help and suggested we make those lemon meringue cupcakes I blogged about the other day. He was torn between his love for lemon and his desire to bake chocolate chip cupcakes with mint chocolate chip frosting. Undecided, we ended up baking both. When I say we, I actually mean Josh and I sat and watched whilst one of Josh’s close friends did all the work. I did help by licking the mixture out of the bowl and Josh did dictate from the sidelines. I guess you could say it was a group effort after all.

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I have to say that both cakes were delicious and I will definitely recommend them to anyone.

After the hectic baking session, feeling as though I had over indulged on my share of cakes, I headed to bed to ensure I had a good nights sleep ready for my early morning start.

On the day of my visa appointment I begrudgingly rolled out of bed, at 6.30am, to get dressed. As I left Josh’s flat the sun greeted me and by the time I made it to Brixton station I was wide awake and ready to delve deep into the underground to catch the tube to Green Park.

Once at Green Park I quickly typed in my destination onto google maps and followed the trail by foot. Realising I only had 10 minutes until my appointment, I began to run the last leg of my journey until I spotted the American flag flying high above the building.

The Camp America team were very helpful, checking my paper work with a smile despite the early hour. Everything seemed to be in order so I was able to join the que outside the security entrance. Two men stood nearby with guns – scary.

As expected, I was ushered along the conveyer belt of people, passed security and into the building itself.

Inside, I was instructed to take a seat and wait for my number. It really was like being at Argos, I sat, I waited for my number and then I approached the desk. The only difference was not retrieving a household object at the end and I also wasn’t allowed to occupy myself on my phone whilst I waited.

I find it a little odd that you aren’t allowed to take your phones into the Embassy building. In this day and age, a mobile phone is attached to practically every person. If it wasn’t for my smartphone, I wouldn’t have been able to find my way to the Embassy as easily. Thankfully Camp America were there to look after my electrical items but I am sure it is a huge inconvenience for everyone else.

Whilst at the desk I had all my finger prints taken and for some reason I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t use ink and paper. I now cannot imagine why I even thought they would use ink and paper, but I was disappointed no the less because I really wanted to see what my finger prints looked like.

After that I moved along the conveyer and waited in line to be interviewed. It was fairly simple and I was done within the hour which left me with four hours to spare before my train left London.

Reunited with my trusty phone, I google mapped the location of Oxford Street and was happily surprised that it was only a short walk away.

Heading down the street I realised that none of the shops were open yet so I decided to grab some breakfast and my morning cup of tea. This was far easier said than done because I ended up walking the length of Oxford Street before I spotted a Costa. Bewildered and desperately in need of that tea, I headed for the counter and ordered a chocolate swirl to accompany it.

I found a table in the corner and happily sat with my tea and swirl, checking all social media whilst I ate.

After an hour had passed, I presumed the shops would have opened their doors to customers, so I left Costa and headed for Topshop which just so happened to be right across the street. With America in mind I ended up buying a few things.Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 15.42.20

I thought the yellow dress would go perfectly with the blue jumper and I have wanted a large gold neckless for a while. I then went into other shops but didn’t buy anything else until I came to Pull and Bear. Here I bought the denim shirt which was surprisingly only £19.99, a whole £14.00 cheaper than the one I tried on in Topshop… bargain!

Basic Denim Shifrt – Pull and Bear £19.99

Daisy Circle Chain Neckless – Topshop £10

Ditsy Floral Flippy Dress – Topshop £18

Curve Hem Sweat – Topshop £18

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With a slightly lighter purse and great train snacks in hand, I headed back to Paddington Station to catch my 13.15 trainback to Bristol.

Travel: Cold feet, hundreds of bodies and a place at camp…

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The summer of a life time is slowly creeping up on me.

A few months ago I attended the London, Camp America Recruitment fair in the hope to be placed at a camp I had chosen. A few days prier to the event I searched through all the camps that were attending online to see which ones appealed to me the most. With my heart set on Camp Westmount I got on the train to Reading to meet my friend, Siobhan, who was also hoping to get placed.

The alarm was set for 7am and when it went off on the morning of the big day I couldn’t believe I had even had an hours sleep let alone 8. Begrudgingly I rolled out of bed and got dressed, wrapped cold pizza in tinfoil and left the house. The cold, winters walk to the station woke us both up and we boarded the 9am train to London Paddington.

Arriving in London to be greeted by the hustle and bustle of early morning travellers we headed for the underground to join the monotonous clan. Luckily once we took to the surface the sun was poking its head between clouds but this did not deter the cold effecting us.

As we approached the building, that was playing host to the Camp America fair, queues were already forming. At this point it was 10am and there must have already been 200 young adults chatting and shivering in line. Donning a green #iamCA sticker we joined the back of the line and was handed a large booklet filled with information.

With frozen fingers I sifted through the booklet and circled, for the second time, the camps that looked most appealing. In discussion with Siobhan we each changed our minds on wanting to go to Camp Westmount. Siobhan liked the idea of spending her summer in California whilst I liked the sound of Surprise Lake Camp (SLC). The destination of the camp wasn’t my priority because I new, if I got placed, then I would travel America afterwards. It just so happened that the camp I found most tempting was in New York. What drew me towards SLC was the short right up that described what they were all about. The paragraph sounded friendly and fun which is what won it over for me.

It must have taken us a good hour and a half to come to our final decision about the top 5 camps we would look to get placed at. We both figured that we had best decide on a few favourites because the likely hood you will get placed at any is ambiguous. Once we had sorted this out it was a matter of waiting for the doors to open at 12am.

Without anything to occupy us the impending feeling of frozen toes and red noses came to the forefront of our minds. I don’t think my toes have ever been as cold as they were that morning. In the end I walked down the street to get a cup of tea and as much as I love tea, I didn’t want to drink it because it was keeping my hands warm.

At 12am the que surged forward and the nervous really started to kick in. As we slowly crawled further towards the entrance I realised how hard it was to walk. The frozen toes were truly getting to me and getting a place was ever more paramount.

After what felt like an eternity we finally entered the realm of warmth. We were ushered up a flight of stairs and motioned to sit on chairs facing a big screen. The man spoke and I half listened and half revelled in the fact I could feel my body defrosting. After watching a short video we were left to fight to the deaths to try and get placed at a camp.

I spotted the SLC stall as I was walking down the stairs towards the main room that held all the other stalls. Once I reached the bottom I wished Siobhan good luck and headed towards slot 61 where SLC was based. I smiled at the camp representative and asked if I could collect some leaflets. Reading through them clarified for me that this was the camp I wanted to spend my summer at.

Avri, the camp representative introduced himself to me and I returned the pleasantries. He carried on talking to another girl and it looked like the interview was going well for her. This made me more determined to try and have mine go the same way. After he had finished he invited me to sit on the hot seat and he began asking me interview style questions. I answered them with honesty and enthusiasm. I tried to demonstrate parts of my personality as I was advised on the introduction video. After answering all the questions my heart quickened as I watched Avri write down a few notes. He then turned to me with a smile and said he would like to offer me a place. With a sigh of relief and a shake of his hand I already felt like part of the team.

What I felt was so lovely about Avri himself was that he didn’t sit behind the table like every other camp representative did. He sat opposite me whilst he asked me the questions making me feel more at ease. The fact that he chose to sit on the same side as the people he was interviewing says to me that he is presenting himself as an equal.  After speaking to him for more than a minute I felt comfortable in his presence.

Once the forms were signed and I had bid Avri farewell, I made my way towards the que to have my photograph taken and to pay my deposit. Standing in the line I nervously rang Siobhan to ask if she had also been placed. Luckily she had so we both were able to leave with smiles on our face.

The entire day consisted of lots of queing and many excited people drifting from stall to stall. It was definitely an experience I wouldn’t want to relive in a hurry but it was all worth the nearly frost bitten toes and cold pizza for lunch. I am one step closer to being able to wake up in New York City.