The American Institute for Foreign Study (Australia) Pty Ltd opened its Australian office in 1999 and began offering its Camp America and Au Pair in America programs to young Australians. In 2005, AIFS commenced offering inbound programs and currently facilitates cultural exchange programs for more than 2,000 young people.
Why did you decide to do Camp America?
Growing up I saw and heard a lot about America in movies and TV shows, such as, Friends, Gilmore Girls and Parent Trap. From watching these movies and TV shows to hearing the song "Welcome To New York" by Taylor Swift, I looked forward to the moment I could take a gap year and experience a typical American summer. I would always hear about the big yellow school buses and the famous yellow New York City taxi cabs, the 4th of July fireworks and the fun packed American summers. And of course, who can forget the signature red lifeguard uniforms, I was so excited to wear the red bathers with ‘lifeguard’ written on them. I have always wanted to travel, work, and even live in another country and Camp America helped to make this a reality. I was a swimming instructor, a lifeguard, and a bunk counsellor at an all-girls Jewish summer camp in Massachusetts called Camp Pembroke.
What did camp teach you?
Camp taught me confidence and many new skills. I was put out of my comfort zone, in a good way, which allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my skills. Camp taught me to just have fun and not worry about what people thought. That’s what camp is all about, having fun. Camp enabled me to grow as a person and helped shape me into the person I am now.
Favourite place to travel in the US and why?
I spent four and a half months in America. I went all over the USA from the west coast to the east coast all the way down to Florida. I saw so many amazing places from New York City, Nashville, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Walt Disney World, National Parks and so many more places. All of the places were all wonderfully unique from each other. I know everyone says New York is their favourite city, but there is definitely something about NYC that is just so different from any other city. It has amazing architecture and the lights of the city at night are just beautiful. It really is the city that never sleeps. Being a massive fan of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I spent an entire afternoon walking around New York City in the middle of summer trying to find the red building from the show. After searching for it I did find it, which was worth the sunburn and blistered feet from walking around NYC (don’t underestimate how huge NYC is).
The Grand Canyon would also have to be my absolute favourite place. The views were out of this world and to be able to see such an amazing American icon and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world was truly an incredible experience. I did the helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon which is an absolute must. I will never forget the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the canyon.
Favourite Memory from camp?
I remember the night before the 4th of July festivities started. The houses across the lake from camp started doing fireworks and my camper’s heard and wanted to go see them, so myself and my co-counsellor snuck the campers out of the bunk to go see them (with permission from Program staff of course). The campers were so excited they had their torches (or flashlights as they call them in America) and pretended as though we were sneaking out. I also remember one morning at breakfast when it was announced that the whole camp was going to Water Wizz, a water park. I was just as excited as the campers, maybe even more excited.
Why would you recommend Camp America?
If you want to grow as an individual, meet many new and amazing friends and travel to places you have only seen in movies and dreamed about, then definitely do Camp America. You will not regret it, you are going to have the time of your life and come home with stories you will want to share and memories that will last forever.