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I return year after year to see what I can give back to camp

Firstly hello to anyone reading this blog of a Hamilton boys journey about the Camp America experience from applying to being a leadership staff member and 7 years returning to camp in the United States.

I’m not a huge fan of writing long stories, so I wanted to just answer some questions in a very short story form. Most of the question’s everyone has been asked as a returning camp staff member more than once.

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I found a lot of positives to do Camp America namely, the everlasting summer! I started in 2013 so I had the summer in 2012/2013 in New Zealand then over to the USA and its been back and forth for the last 7 years with no winter. The other big reason was to go over and teach water skiing and wakeboarding which has been a huge passion of mine for the last 11 years now.

It was a very good friend of mine who was doing camp in 2013 and she told me that I would be very good at it as I like to work with kids. So one Thursday night after work I sat down and filled out everything Camp America had on their website and I’ve never looked back.

Very easy decision! Camp America has been doing this for a few days now. Everything is spelt out and very easy to understand from application to camp placement to visas to flights, but the best thing Camp America has to offer are the staff. Vicki, Shelby, Claire and the rest of the bomb.com staff I have come across over the last 7 years.

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I found a lot of positives to do Camp America namely, the everlasting summer! I started in 2013 so I had the summer in 2012/2013 in New Zealand then over to the USA and its been back and forth for the last 7 years with no winter. The other big reason was to go over and teach water skiing and wakeboarding which has been a huge passion of mine for the last 11 years now.

It was a very good friend of mine who was doing camp in 2013 and she told me that I would be very good at it as I like to work with kids. So one Thursday night after work I sat down and filled out everything Camp America had on their website and I’ve never looked back.

Very easy decision! Camp America has been doing this for a few days now. Everything is spelt out and very easy to understand from application to camp placement to visas to flights, but the best thing Camp America has to offer are the staff. Vicki, Shelby, Claire and the rest of the bomb.com staff I have come across over the last 7 years.


I felt good heading to the plane. The only thing that made me sweat was the border control at LAX. A little bit intimidating but nothing worth losing hair over.

My favourite flight hack is to fly into Honolulu, Hawaii as its your first port of entry into the US and immigration is super chill.

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Well I had to arrive at camp early to do my lifeguard certificate but that was the first time I met Mark Newfield (camp owner), Brian “Bubba” Cohen (camp director) and Gary “gazza” Ross (staffing coordinator). I knew straight away this was a good place when these three big figures would stop what they were doing just to come out and welcome you to camp and it wasn’t just the first year, every year after that but instead of a handshake it’s a big hug.

So year 1 and 2 I was an activity specialist (Water ski specialist). The role consisted of teaching the kids at an on-site lake behind a jet ski, so driving, spotting and teaching. As a specialist I still lived in the bunk with kids, from wake up to bed time. Then 2015 was the year I moved into the water ski directors position. The promotion to director meant I moved out of the bunk to live in my own room. The new role had me overlooking the program with five staff members. But I was not based on-site anymore, I drive a van load of kids and a water ski staff member off-site to a public lake where we have a beast of a ski boat 2014 210CB ski nautique. I loved the extra responsibility!

My favourite part of camp is very easy to answer, the people and the place. I’ve made some of my best friends at camp, I still vividly remember meeting Owen Betteridge back in 2013. Living in the same division of kids and having the same day off for 2 years and then both moving into leadership roles. Even though we both live very different lives, me in NZ and him in the UK we have inside jokes that cover the last 7 years Dr and team W!

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A photo of me in Ireland meeting up with 19 of my closest camp friends at a wedding.

And the other obvious answer……. spending all summer out on a boat doing what I love. And that’s very hard from some people to say these days.

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After the first year it was the confidence to travel by myself and meet like minded people.
But what camp taught me was some fundamentals that I was missing from my personal skill set like being patient, not making mountains out of ant hills, seeing situations and problems from other people’s shoes.

There have been so many moments over the last 7 years. I’m so proud of the staff I’ve worked with over the years down at water ski, I love how we have the best job at camp, I love the joy and pure happiness I see when a kid gets up on skis for the first time, I love seeing the progression of the kids over the years form barely getting up to jumping wake to wake or dropping a ski at 27 mph/43 kmph. I love seeing kids around camp asking me ‘when can we go out again?’ it’s very rewarding.


To be purely honest, camp is not for everyone. I’ve seen people do camp and it wasn’t what they expected and the reason that they want to do it is because a friend or a family member did it in the past and that person had a great experience. You have to go in realising yes it’s a wonderful way to travel and meet new people but you are there to take care of and teach other people’s most prized possession. If you head in with the right mindset of giving 100% of yourself, 100% of time you will have an amazing summer. The reason I head back year after year is – I thought it was what I could get out of camp, but now it’s what I can give back to camp.

Well if you’ve made it this far thank you for reading.
This is my first ever blog thing.
If you ever want to talk I’m on the Camp America Facebook page

chuuurrrrr

Richard ”Snappy” Henderson

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