You know it’s only been like, two years, since I flew off to Pennsylvania for the summer of a life time and I haven’t done one blog post about it yet! Probably because there are sooo many things I could include and probably even more things that I’ll inevitably miss out, so it’s a daunting task. However, I think explaining my time at Ballibay in pictures with a few captions here and there is probably the best way to go about this in retrospect and create something that remotely reflects and summarises the amazing time I had two years ago. You will have to forgive the shoddy camera work, I am no professional and I only have a normal digital camera!
I has decided I was going to Camp about a summer before, so I had ages doing my application before I was finally placed at Camp Ballibay via one of Camp America’s recruitment fairs in January 2012, and just as long dreaming and wondering about what it would be like. It was time then to really get excited about spending 10 weeks in America! My role at Camp was as Theatre Director and also as Camp Counsellor, living with some of the children in a cabin in the woods. The camp itself is a fine and performing arts camp with amazing programs for theatre, dance, music, art and rock farm. But they also offer all different kinds of opportunities such as horse riding, swimming, cooking/baking and regular camp outs. It was the perfect balance for me: the arts, along with the opportunity for a bit of simple living. All images below are my own apart from a few cheeky stolen ones off fellow camp counsellors and Ballibay official photographs, thank you all!
It all started on Friday June 15th at Heathrow airport, I haven’t forgotten that date yet…
After a long flight of watching such joyful films like Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) and Like Crazy (2011) as well as a lot of The Big Bang Theory, I arrived in Newark airport, NJ around midnight. We were then shuttled to the Ramada airport hotel, the official Camp America hotel, to be greeted by American Camp America staff and, after a very tired introduction, lead to our rooms for a well earned rest.
The next day, I finally got to meet the rest of the Camp Ballibay UK staff that I had spent the last 5 months talking to/stalking via facebook, and even some new faces. Very surreal experience indeed! That morning, still tired and jetlagged from the flight the day before, we were put on a bus into Manhattan, to go to Port Authority. It was my first experience outside of countless TV shows and films of this familiar looking scenery…
Mediocre, right? 😉 So we lugged our suitcases around the bus station and finally got on a bus to Scranton, PA where we would be picked up by Vin and Judy who would take us all the way to camp!
It wasn’t long before we were finally at our destination… Camp Ballibay!!
Camp Ballibay is set in North eastern Pennsylvania in Camptown (very apt but completely coincidental as far as I am aware), situated in the mountains. The weather in Summer can get super hot with the odd bit of rainfall/thunder. It gets mega hot during the day and goes a bit chilly by night so you get a real mix! The landscape is just beautiful though. There are huge areas of fields everywhere filled with nature and wildlife, so the next few pictures are ones taken around camp, which hopefully will give you some remote idea of the scope of the camp and the simplicity of the area.
So that’s camp! Basically all of camp apart from the other dance studio, the Lake, the boys area and the camp out area!
The first week of Camp for me was staff orientation week, basically where we prepared for the children coming, learned how to deal with certain situations and spent time getting to know one another. You can read more about the day off we had in staff orientation week in upstate New York here in my Day off post.
And then after 1 week the kids arrived!! Myself and my co-counsellor Cherie were looking after G7 for the first six weeks of camp (or first and second session, in Camp terms) and we were looking after 13-14 year olds. Every single one of those girls was incredibly talented and never, ever boring and just made our time at camp.
After the first six weeks, the last two weeks of camp are slightly different. Basically, it’s a theatre intensive and most of the kids get involved in theatre in some way. For these two weeks, I moved next door to G8 with my new co-counsellor, Sam, and we looked after 15/16 year olds who were like, the dream cabin, all lovely, lovely girls!
So I don’t have pictures for everything that happened, but I do have some for July 4th and some of my shows!
I just have to also share this official Ballibay picture from Godspell… It just fills me with so much joy and is without a doubt the best still image that could have been taken from the whole show:
So that’s a few of the events and special occasions on the Ballibay calendar, now let’s finish off with a few more random pictures from around camp!