I signed up with a company called USA Summer Camp back in January, where I registered my interest to work abroad at a summer camp in America. After many long, tedious steps to land the job, I finally got picked by a camp called Frost Valley in New York state to work as equestrian staff. Having ridden horses since the age of 4, I was beyond excited to be able to ride in America, as well as teach kids how to ride.
Frost Valley was beautiful; the camp is surrounded by the Catskill mountains and is sat by a stunning lake called Lake Cole. It was definitely a wonderful place to spend the summer. The first few weeks were staff training, where we were introduced to all the horses and shown how the barn was run, as well as participated in some camp songs and games that we would be doing with the kids. The days were pretty long and tiring, but a lot of fun, and I was excited for the kids to arrive. During our days off, we would head into a nearby town to do some shopping, go canoeing on the lake or hang out in the staff building, which had table football, wifi and a TV. A week before the arrival of the kids, I was informed that I would be living in with 7-10 year olds and taking them to their daily activities, as well as getting them up in the morning and getting them to bed at night. I was quite surprised at this, as I was under the impression that I would be primarily working with the horses, but I was determined to give it my best nonetheless.
However, a few days after the kids arrived, I got very sick. And when I say sick, I was maybe the sickest I’d ever felt in my life. I was overwhelmed with fatigue, my body ached when I moved, my head throbbed and I passed out a couple of times. I quickly began to worry that something was quite seriously wrong, but when I expressed my concern to one of the team leaders, she really did not seem to care. One evening, I passed out on the way to the lake and was taken to the on-site medical centre, where a doctor examined me and told me to stay put in a room for 24 hours. The next morning, one of the team leaders (I will call her Katie for the sake of this story) banged on the door and demanded I come back to work. I tried to explain what had happened and what the doctor had said, but she wasn’t interested and I reluctantly went to the cafeteria with her where the kids were having breakfast. I tried to eat to some cereal but had to run to the bathroom to be sick. I then called my dad to explain what was going on, but was severely told off for doing this, and Katie said to me “we’ve given you two days to get over this illness so it’s time for you to snap out of it” and “you have a face like a slapped arse.” I managed to hold my tongue, mostly because I felt too unwell and tired to bother to argue, but I wish now I had defended myself.
Later that day, I had had enough. I could not continue in this state, and the total ignorance of Katie towards my ill-health and the way she had spoken to me had really upset me. Its a shame, because I was having an incredible time up until I fell ill, which is when the attitude of the team leaders completely changed towards me and they became quite insulting. I was made to feel very inferior and uncomfortable by the staff at this point, and so I booked a flight change and went home.