9. How did you get into Camp America?

I think I have filled in the application for camp America 5 times now but this was the first year I actually sent it off. For all of my summers in between school, uni and now I put my career first and went for design internships. Now that I have a year and a half of work under my belt and I’m taking a few months out to go traveling, it was finally the right time to give Camp America a proper try. The application process was simple and their website helped you through every step of the way but I thought I would just give a brief summary of what I had to do and how I ended up getting placed at a camp.

Online application

Of all the years that I have filled in the Camp America, this year was definitely the easiest. They split the form up into 7 clear categories…

  • Skills – Fill in 3 or more skills that you have that you would like to teach or be involved in at camp. I went for arts and drama based things but you can do anything from sports to cooking skills.
  • Availability – This is the date you can leave to go to camp and the day you have to be back for. The longer your availability is the higher chance you have of getting a place.
  • About Me – It is exactly what it says on the tin and covers other key experiences you need to go to camp like childcare experience, what languages you speak and if you have a driving license.
  • Camp Options – This is where you can pick the kind of camp you want to go to. Whether you are after the proper parent-trap wilderness experience or if a religious camp is up your street this is where you can decide what you want to get out of camp.
  • Education & Work History
  • Contact details

If you progress through this round then other sections open up such as Medical questions and passport details.

Pictures & Videos

If there is anything I can recommend it would be to make a video! I know it can be quite embarrassing to sit in front of a camera but this is the best way to get attention of camps. It doesn’t have to be long and it can be as creative as you like but just get across your bubbly personality and what key skills you can bring forward. If you don’t feel comfortable with that then add lots of action photos doing what you have said you can do, such as pictures of you playing sport or examples of art work you have done.

References

You need 2 references from anyone that can vouch for you but isn’t a relative. This can be a manager at work, a teacher from uni/school or a leader in a club you work at, for example. I asked my uni tutor and one of my managers at work to do it which all worked perfectly well!

Fees

You have to pay an application fee to begin with of around £180. As you progress more fees come though such as assessment and confirmation fees which all together add up to £214.

You get paid at camps but the amount varies from camp to camp and your food and accommodation will often be covered. This means the only other additional fees would be flights and any excursions you want to go on when you’re at the camp.

Interview

If your application is successful then you will have to go for a short interview with a member of the Camp America team local to you. I met my interviewer in a cafe in London and it lasted for around an hour. One thing I really want to stress is this is nothing to worry about, they are on your side and want to help you get to camp! We essentially built upon my application and she wanted to get a better grasp of my personality. I had a chance to ask her lots of questions about her own experience at camp and it ultimately felt like more of a chat with a friend than a serious interview.

Medical Form

After you interview you will need to print off and get your doctor to fill in a short medical form. GPs can be very busy so make sure you give yourself plenty of time for this!

The wait begins…

After all this it is time to wait for any requests from camps to come through. If you want the best chance of getting seen then make sure you

  • have skills down that you have plenty of strong experience in
  • get photos/videos up
  • change your preferences to all types of camps (but remember you have to go so make sure it is something you will still enjoy/feel comfortable at)

If it all works out you may get an email from a camp asking for a Skype interview!

Skype Interview

With the time difference between England and America, my interview was one evening after work. Be sure to do lots of research into the camp before you go so you can ask plenty of questions about them and see if it is the right fit for you. My interview lasted about an hour and they asked me about my skills, my personality, what I want out of a camp and why I wanted to go to their camp specifically. I think it is important to stay be relaxed and, as cliche as it sounds, just be yourself. I was offered the job of Photography Specialist from the camp at the end of my interview and of course I accepted. From here I was sent a conformation email where I had to formally accept the offer.

Next Steps

After you have been placed at a camp the last stages are getting your flights and Visa sorted. I haven’t actually got around to these steps yet so I can’t be of much assistance but I did receive a really helpful information pack from Camp America explaining all the stages of applying for a Visa. Once I have done it all I will be sure to update this post!

I know this seems like a lot of stages but I promise none of them take long to do and it is all worth it for that feeling you get when an offer from a camp comes through! If you have any other questions please feel free to ask them below.

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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7. Won’t you miss home too much?

This is one of those questions that’s quite hard to answers because if I’m honest I won’t know until I get there! I lived in Norwich for 3 years, whilst at university, so I am used to being away but there is a big difference between being a 19 hour flight and a 2 hour train journey to get home. If the idea of missing home too much is what’s keeping you from getting away then here are some things to do/think about to put your mind at ease.

“You’re never more than 24 hours away from home” – Beth Sandland

Beth’s magical Instagram account and blog (link here) is one of my main inspirations behind going traveling and when she put a quote up saying that “you’re never more than 24 hours away from home” it put my mind at rest as well. If worse comes to worse and you really can’t face being away anymore then all you have to think about is that in the space of a day you could be back in your own bed. Now I know things aren’t always simple and it can be expensive to fly home within a day but it is reassuring to know that home is closer than you think.

Everyone who is traveling is away from home

When you’re away you will meet people from all over the world but an important thing to remember is that all of them are away from home. If you’re feeling homesick then chances are someone else you’re with is to (or at least has been) so go and find someone to talk to. If you’re not one for talking about your feelings then at least go and find someone to keep you distracted. Grab a bite for eat, go for a walk, sit on the beach and watch the sunset – do something to immerse yourself in wherever you are and remind yourself why you came in the first place!

You can always call home

Modern technology has its ups and downs but one thing it is great for is keeping in touch with loved ones no matter where you are on the planet. We’re lucky enough now to be able to call home to hear your mums voice, see what your friends are up to on Instagram or FaceTime your dog if you’re missing his face. My dad always says then we he went traveling in his 20s, my granny would write a letter and send it to the next town he was meant to be traveling to with hopes he’d actually make it there to read it. Now even my granny has FaceTime! We are more connected than ever so you are never more than a message away from home.

You can make it a home away from home

Sometimes it’s not our specific home that we miss but just the general feeling of stability and having a routine to stick to each day. When you’re traveling it can be unsettling to always be in a new place experiencing something different and that can make us miss the normality of home more. So if you find a place that you like and you feel comfortable in then just stay for a bit! Go to the same cafe for breakfast every day, read your book on the balcony at the same time each day, get an early night and catch up on sleep. I feel like there’s a constant pressure to never stop when traveling but if you’re feeling a bit aimless then just take some time to realign and make yourself a home away from home.

There is no time limit on traveling

You don’t have to away from home for a year for it to count as traveling. I will say it again. You don’t have to away from home for a year for it to count as traveling. I think there is a big misconception that for it count as traveling you have to be away from home for months on end when in reality you can be away as long as you feel comfortable. If you are unsure about wether you will miss home too much then juts don’t plan too far ahead in the future. Stick to a week by week basis where possible which will therefore allow you to come home whenever you feel ready and you won’t feel trapped by plans you made for months in the future.

I think the overall point I want to get across is that the beauty of traveling is its freedom. Do whatever you feel comfortable with and come home whenever you feel ready. There is nothing wrong with missing home, it is totally natural, so just play it by ear and do what you need to make yourself comfortable and happy. I am going to bring some photos of home away with me and a teddy that my mum gave me to remind me of her. When I feel like I miss them a bit I will jump on facetime and if the point comes when I just want to see them in person then I will come home. Simples!

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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The products that saved my skin

DSCF4127-2.jpgEver since I turned 11 I have had acne. Granted with age it did seem to get better but I was still burdened with endless amounts of spots even after I left my teen years. I had tried everything under the sun (including the sun) to try and get rid of them but nothing was working for me longterm. Last November I took it upon myself to really crack down and sort my skin out. I invested in some Kiehls products which did seem to help eliminate the spots that were on my face but it didn’t stop new ones from arriving. At this point I had had enough and made an appointment at the doctors.

I had previously been put on Roaccutane but only managed a week because it made me feel so anxious and dizzy all the time. After explaining this to my doctor she decided to put me on some antibiotics and 2 creams, one for the evening and one for the night. I began using them all but found the antibiotics made me feel really sick and made my skin painfully dry so I decided to persevere with just the creams. I am so glad I did. Coming up to 4 months later I have had no real breakouts in weeks and am only left with small scars and some redness which are both easily covered up. I try not to wear much make up anymore but finally feel confident enough to do that thanks to all of these products….(none of this is sponsored, I just cannot rave enough about how much they have all changed my skin)

DSCF3473-2

CREAMS

Prescribed Creams – As I mentioned I went to the doctors and they prescribed me 2 creams to use (Duac in the morning and Differin in the evening). These obviously can’t be bought over the counter but I thought it would still be helpful to mention them in case you wanted to ask your doctor about them. I only use about a pea size of each after I have washed my face and they are miracle creams. They do dry your skin out quite a lot and in the first couple of days the sensitive areas of my skin stung a bit but I believe that is how they clear the acne (by drying out the bacteria) and stop it from returning. You can apply normal moisturiser over the top of them if your skin is feeling too painfully dry.

Kiehls Breakout Control Targeted Blemish Spot Treatment – Even though it is very rare now that I will get a big spot I am not immune to them. As soon as I feel one coming I will layer it up with a tiny bit of this cream, in the morning and the evening, and within 2 days the spot will be gone. This really does dry out your skin so be sure to use it sparingly and expect a few dry patches but I would chose that over a mountain size spot any day!

SOS Solution for Scars – I actually learnt about this product through a Katie Snooks vlog and thought I would give it a try myself. As previously stated my skin is now left with a lot of acne scars from when I used to pick spots (I hate my past self) and I didn’t want to add oils, like bio oil, onto my face because I was more focused on clearing my acne. So far this cream is working quite well. I have found a major improvement on my temples and cheeks but my forehead still seems to be a problem. *To be fair I have so many scars on my forehead I think it might be past saving.* I just massage it into my skin after I have used my prescribed creams and it literally seems to push the scars off my skin – magical!

CLEANSERS

Garnier Pure Active Micellar Cleansing Water – After a long night out or a day at uni all I want to do is get any make up off my face and this is always what I reach for. It is such a quick an easy step to get most of the make up off and this specific one is tailored for skin that is prone to imperfections. What more could you want! I just put a bit on a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face. It is also really refreshing to do on a sunny day or after a work out if you want to cleanse the sweat away (how lovely)

Simple Vital Vitamin Foaming Cleanser – I knew that the prescribed creams were going to be quite harsh on my skin so I wanted a cleanser that would clean my skin but not load it with other chemicals. I find this cleanser leaves my skin feeling fresh and helps to put a bit more life back into it seeing as the creams can make it quite dull. I use it every morning and night and then just rinse off with some warm water. Plus who doesn’t love a bit of foam – it is so satisfying! DSCF4136-2.jpg

There we have it. All the saving graces that have finally started to clear my acne after 10 years! I will carry on using them until the prescribed creams run out and then I can always do an update a bit later on down the line if that is something that you all would like!

Let me know your favourite skin care products and if you have any questions please ask them below

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Body Shop Tea Tree range review

DSCF2129.jpgEver since the joys of puberty I have been blessed with acne! Over the past 10 years I have tried everything from clean & clear to doctor prescribed creams and tablets but nothing has ever completely cleared my skin!

For christmas I was given 4 pieces from the tea tree collection at the Body Shop and FOR ONCE it seems to be making a difference! For reference here is a photo from 2 years ago and now. As well as getting my nose pierced and sorting my eyebrows out, my forehead has completely cleared up. I still have bad scars on my cheeks and breakouts on my chin (especially when I’m stressed) but as a whole it is a lot better! Now I know I am wearing make up in the second picture and not the first but just believe me when I say the difference in my skin is insane!skin.jpg

The pieces that I received from the Body shop range is the 3-in-1 Wash Scrub and Mask, the Skin Clearing Clay Mask, the Pore Minimiser and the Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution. 

3-in-1 Wash Scrub and Mask (£8.50)DSCF2130.jpg

I use this as a scrub everyday in the shower (because it is a pain to wash off in the sink) and I find it really gets deep into my pores. My skin is left feeling super soft and a lot less rough. I find if I put this on in the morning when a spot is brewing under the surface of my skin it definitely decreases in size over the day! The only downside, as I earlier mentioned, is it is really difficult to wash off, especially if you use it as a mask, but do it in the shower and you will have no problems

Skin Clearing Clay Mask (£11)DSCF2131.jpg

I put this on 2-3 times a week as soon as I get out the shower. It does make you look like shrek but it goes on as a mousey texture and then starts to dry hard. You leave it on for 10-15mins and then wash it off. Now when I say my skin feels smooth after I mean it feels like a fresh little babies bottom. I can also see a noticeable change in the size of my spots after I take this mask off. One problem I have found with this is after an hour or so my skin feels really dry (I’m guessing because it is drying out spots) but I would just recommend putting a moisturiser on once you’ve taken it off.

Pore Minimiser (£9)DSCF2133.jpg

Whether you’re meant to do this or not I don’t know but I use this as a primer before I put my make up on. I have really tried to limit the amount I wear foundation but I feel like this puts on a protective layer first whilst also putting some more tea tree on my face to dry out those pesky spots! It does have quite a tacky feel when you’ve put it on your skin so I find it does actually work well as a primer to keep make up on for longer.

Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution (£13)DSCF2134 

Out of the whole range I have this is the only one that I question. If I’m honest I just don’t think it does anything for me! You’re meant to put a few drops of it on but I just find it leaves my skin feeling quite oily and nothing seems to change when I do put it on. I have just recently purchased the Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner (£6) from the range to substitute for this, seeing as it is half the price for twice the amount, so I will see how that goes.

There are my honest reviews of this range, have you ever tried it? or do you have any other skin saviours? I am going to carry on using these products and just pray that my skin cooperates!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Holiday without your parents?

Growing up means that a lot of things in your life change. You have to put yourself to bed and cook yourself dinner and, at some point, you may have to go on holiday without your parents. From my experiences, holidays with your family are easy as all you have to do is turn up on time and magically your parents have set everything else to fall into place, so when they’re no longer vacationing with you there are a few more things you need to think about.

  1. CHECK IN ONLINE – On some airlines, more specifically the budget ones, you have to check in and print your boarding passes off at home before you’ve even thought about leaving for the airport. When you book your tickets it is a good idea to check the boarding pass policies of the airline you are flying with and check in when they tell you to so you’re not left stuck in the airport
  2. KEEP ALL IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS IN ONE PLACE – As well as those boarding passes you’ve just printed, it is a good idea to print out any confirmation emails or information on the accommodation you will be staying in abroad as well as any activities you may have booked. Once you’ve done that put all of that in one safe, secure folder to keep on you at all times during your travel. (LITTLE TIP take a photo of all of the information as well so if worse comes to worse and you lose the folder at least you will still have all the information)
  3. EXCHANGE YOUR CURRENCY BEFORE YOU GO – Even though it is possible to change your money up at the airport, and in the country you are visiting, they normally have the worse exchange rates. Therefore it is better to look online for the best exchange rates (the post office, your bank, travel agencies) and get it done before you go. (LITTLE TIP when you change your money up some places offer a buy back guarantee which means if you come back with some spare euros, for example, they will exchange them for pounds at the same exchange rate you bought them for)
  4. MEDICINE – Remember those times you’ve got a headache on holiday and you’re parents have been there with some paracetamol? Well now it is your turn to be your own medicine cabinet. I’m not saying you need to bring a whole pharmacy but pack some pain relief tablets, some plasters, some aftersun and some antihistamine to put on any bug bites (as well as enough of any other medicine that you may have to take)
  5.  SUITCASE WEIGHT LIMITS – Whilst you are checking if you need to check in early (see what I did there) you should also check what weight limit you have on your luggage so you don’t arrive and end up having to wear 5 of your dresses onto the plane because your suitcase was too heavy. (LITTLE TIP if you don’t feel like paying the extra £40 to have a suitcase checked in remember you can bring smaller suitcases on as hand luggage which, most of the time, don’t have weight limits they just have to be a certain size or less)
  6.  AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION AT BOTH ENDS – Not only is it important to have a plan to get to the airport on your home side, be that by bus, train or the taxi service that is your parents) you should also have a plan as to how you’re going to get from the airport you land in to your accommodation. Some hotels offer shuttle services whereas others can be reached by public transport. If you want to get a taxi make sure you budget that into your holiday plans.
  7. INFORM YOUR BANK ABOUT YOUR TRIP – Now that your money is all changed up you shouldn’t really need to use your card abroad but nevertheless it is a good idea to tell your bank when and where you are going so if you do use your card abroad they won’t cancel it due to fear its been stolen.
  8. ADAPTORS – There is nothing worse than finally arriving on holiday and realising you can’t charge your camera you were going to use to take all those insta-worthy photos because the plug sockets are different. Before you go away google what type of socket they have in the country you are going to and make sure you have a suitable adaptor. These can be bought at the airport but normally for a rather high price. (LITTLE TIP if you’re planning on traveling around countries then invest in a universal adaptor that has lots of different socket options)
  9. PACK A TOWEL – This is one I never really think of then get really annoyed when I forget. If you’re planning on heading to the beach on holiday or going hiking to some waterfalls you will need a towel to dry off. Some accommodation may offer them but most are only to be used on site so bring your own to avoid any soggy taxi rides home.
  10. BRING YOUR PASSPORT – This one is rather self explanatory but also probably the most important of them all. Before you leave the house ( and the hotel at the other end) triple check that your passport is in your bag so no matter what you will be getting on that plane.

Now that you’re all prepared and feeling like a proper adult there’s just enough time to give your parents a kiss goodbye then you are ready to head off on your next (grown up) adventure.

Where are you guys off to this summer? Do you prefer family holidays or trips away without your parents?

Go and grab another cuppa (or maybe an iced tea) on me, Em x

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