10 Tips For Applying to Camp.

So you’ve decided working at a summer camp in America is for you?! Great! Here are some tips that might help you before you travel across the pond.

1) Don’t forget other agencies. Before you start the application process, don’t forget that there are numerous other agencies other than Camp America that help with summer camp placements and may give you a better deal. I personally used Camp America which is probably the biggest and most popular. However, there is also Camp Leaders, so take a look.

2) Research Camps. There are literally thousands of camps in America and they’re all slightly different. There are ones based on football, ones based on water sports, religious camps, all boys, all girls and co-ed camps. The list goes one.  Basically, do your research and you will end up with a camp that is best suited to your skills and one that you will feel most comfortable at.

3) Go to a fair. I chose the camp I wanted to go to at one of the fairs Camp America put on throughout the year. Here, representatives from hundreds of camps are packed into a conference hall and you can go and talk to them about what their camps are like and if they need people with your skills. I thought this was great as you could talk face to face with the people you would potentially be working with over the summer. It’s also highly likely you’ll be placed if you attend a fair.

4) Trust your gut. Look around. At the fair I spoke first to the camp I would ultimately work for and they offered me a place! I got a great feeling from the camp, however, as it was the first camp I spoke to at the fair I was like “Great, thanks! However, you’re the first camp I have spoken to so would you mind if I had a look at a couple of others before I make my decision?” They were fine with that. I looked at a couple of other camps, but didn’t get that same great feeling that they were just right. So I returned to the camp I spoke to first and signed on the dotted line. Trust. Your. Gut.

5) Specialist Camps. So on your form and in your interview they’ll ask you if you want to work at either religious camps or disability camps. I have no experience at these and didn’t want to work at them so I said no. However, the amount of people I met on my travels that said yes either because they weren’t bothered at the time, thought it would look good on a CV or had no idea what they were getting into was huge. These people ended up being completely overwhelmed and one chap I met hated his whole summer because he literally had to wipe ass every day. Now, if you have experience in these areas, are fully aware of what you’re getting into and want to try it out, then great, you’re doing something I couldn’t. However, if you’re saying yes for the sake of it or to look good on your CV, re-evaluate your decision. A good tip is to talk to people who’ve been there and done it.

6) Stay on top of forms. There are so many forms that you’ll have to fill out that it’s worth keeping a folder to put them all in. Your visa forms are so important to! I lost mine and searched a whole day for it until it turned up in my car glove box! Staying on top of your forms and getting them completed as soon as they’re sent to you will save you time and stress.

7) VISA Days. Ah the lovely VISA days. A trip to London and the US Embassy.  You’re going to need a passport photo so get one before as the only place you’ll get one on the day is a shop that charges a small fortune. The rest is pretty easy; just make sure you have all your forms with you (refer to tip 6)

8) Qualifications. Make sure your qualifications are valid for the whole period you’re working at the summer camp. My lifeguard qualification ran out half way through summer! I had to recertify while at camp which cost me $70 and was boring as hell. If I had of realised this before I left for America I could have recertified for free through my employer in the UK.

9) Don’t book a trek. So you’ll find out about these treks Camp America organise which you pay to go on once you’ve finished camp. Yes they look great and if you’re worried about what you’re going to do after camp they seem like a great idea. However, they’re ruddy expensive, you forfeit travelling with all your mates that you met at camp and you might not meet great people on the trek. Don’t forget there is nothing wrong with travelling on your own and I personally think it is the best way to do it.

10) DIY flights. If you think you’re going to end up down south and your return flight home is from New York, don’t worry. I purchased a flight from Atlanta back to New York for $90 which was much cheaper than the £250 Camp America requested to change my return fight to leave from the south.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! I haven’t really seen many other places cover some of these points so I thought I’d put them up for you! It’s a lot to take in but it’ll be worth it once it’s all done and you’ll be on your way to the summer of a lifetime!

Should you do Camp America?

So I arrived back home in the UK a few weeks ago and am settling back into the swing of things, i.e. leaving the student life behind and working! I’ve had so many people ask questions since I’ve been back and say that they’re thinking of doing Camp America that I thought I’d help ya’ll decide whether it’s for you or not. I’ll break it down into its pros and cons in order to help you weigh it up, discuss if I think you should do it then see whether I’d do it again! We’ll start with the pros…

PROS

1) You basically get to go to America for free. With Camp America I paid about £650 which included my flights, visa, and some goodies (that I never received:(). When I left camp I was paid $1200 dollars which is about £800 so you get paid slightly more than you put in.

2) You meet great people. I honestly met some of the coolest people at camp. Every type of person you can think of is at camp and they all have their own little story. I made friends that I’m still in contact with and it would be great to see them again.

3) Experiencing a new culture. We share the same language but that’s about where the similarities stop. The people are different, the way they fill up petrol confused the hell out of me, tipping, taxes, different words, not getting my sarcasm, the list can go on. American culture is very different indeed.

4) The Family feel. Obviously I can only speak for my camp but you really feel like the admin staff and oldest counsellors are either your part time parents or older brothers/sisters whilst the kids are your part time younger brothers or sisters.

5) Learning about yourself. I think everyone questions themselves through camp and their abilities to teach or do activities. However, you soon get over that and come out stronger and better for it. You also learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, you learn that you can do things you didn’t know you could and you will surprise yourself at how much you didn’t know about yourself.

6) The kids. Yes some days they annoy you to the point where you want to get the next flight home. But then the moments where you see them succeed, improve, come out of their shell or when they write you a really nice note far outweigh the annoying moments so much that they become irrelevant. The kids at my camp were great and I honestly miss them.

7) You try new things. I personally tried sailing, canoeing and paddle boarding for the first time whilst at camp. I also learnt how to make a fire, make smores, tie knots and chop wood. There’s also a lot of public speaking as well which you get used to.

8) Never experienced anything like it before. Before camp and since I left camp I have never experienced anything else like it. There’s not really any other comparison  apart from other summer camps obviously.

9) Travelling after. A lot of people apply to Camp America purely as a way to travel around the country. Your visa allows you to stay in the USA for a month after camp. I stayed for 3 weeks and went down the east coast. It was qualityyyyy.

CONS

1) You get paid peanuts. We counsellors worked out our hourly pay rate and it turned out to be 63 cents.  Now that’s depressing. Don’t forget though, your accommodation and food is all paid for. But still, that figure depresses me.

2) Overworked. So as I was at an all-girls camp I didn’t live with and look after the kids 24/7, but even I felt drained the whole time. It was a 7.30am wake up every morning and duties finished at roughly 8pm. But then of course people hung out and you stayed up till like 12. Managing your sleep is so important. I don’t know how the female counsellors stayed alive.

3) Awkward dinner time. This is a bit of a random one. However one of my clearest memories is meal times in the canteen. You’ll sit with kids and every week you’ll get a new table of kids. A couple of those weeks you’ll have a table that will just not talk. You’ll ask them a million questions and they’ll either make a head movement or give you a one word answer. It was kind of demoralising, but you have to remember kids are shy and they’ve just met a big new adult so it’s kind of understandable.

4) On top of people the whole time. Living with and seeing the same people day in day out can get a bit much. There were fallings out and arguments. It’s part of camp life.

5) It’s a long time. Personally I was fine with being away from home for so long but other people really missed home and it affected their daily lives. You will talk about home sickness in the campers but don’t forget it could affect you.  I guess you find out if this thing is for you or not. Towards the end of summer the time starts to drag as you just want to get travelling.

Should you do it?

Yes absolutely. I think it is such a unique experience working at a summer camp that if your heart is in it then you should try it. You will learn so much about life, yourself and other people that it’s such a valuable experience and will genuinely build your character and improve your skills. I personally think the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Would I do it again?

Now this is tricky. I loved it but I’m still undecided whether I would do it again. I’m swaying to the yes side. I’m definitely not doing it this year but in a couple of years, potentially yes. If I was to do it I’d go back to my camp. The worry I have is that it will not live up to what my first experience was like. But then again it will be a different experience and could be awesome. As a returner you also get paid a considerable amount more money and get fancier accommodation. Looking over photos and talking to camp friends makes you nostalgic and want to do it again. So I think we shall see in a couple of years.

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News Team Assemble!
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Want fries with that?
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Bae.

57 Thoughts of a Flyer.

1.) I’m definitely within the weight limit, I’ll just wear some extra clothes if I’m not..

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2) Ah the check in lady was erm, interesting.

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3) Hey airport security…….you better catch the bad guys!

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4) Are you technically still in the country once you’re past security?

5) I don’t need any of this stuff in duty free but its discounted so why not…

6) Its also the place you get all those presents you forgot to buy on your travels.

7) *sprays self with 5 perfumes*………Can I help you sir?….. I’m just browsing thank you.

8) Gorping through the windows at this ridiculous slab of concrete. giphy (13)

9) No your zone hasn’t been called up yet, sit back down.

10) Ah the stewardess told them to go back, victory for the rule obey-ors!

11) Trying to flirt with the hot lady at the desk.

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12) Yes I know where I’m going thanks, I’m turning right and walking down the plane until I find my seat.

13) Oh business, they won’t notice if I just sit down will they?

14) I pussied out, one day I’ll be in there and look at the peasants walk past!

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15) Yep, she’s a gold digger.

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16) I don’t care if you walked past your seat and need to walk back, let me past.

17) Nope you’re not going to fit that in there mate.

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18) Lets see if the person next to me is chatty.

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19) Oh god they’re not going to shut up.

20) Fuckkkk, 6 + hours of this.

21) Look there’s my bag! Hey treat it nice!

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22) Spotting the nervous flyer

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23) And that wanker who managed to get to sleep before take-off.

24) Then the one you know whose faking sleeping because they’re pooping themselves.

25) Take-off? Nope still taxiing!

26) Take off – look cool, don’t freak out!

27) When the plane drops and your tummy does a little dance.

28) You know it’s all in the laws of physics but you still can’t get your head around how this lump of metal is in the air.

29) Is it meant to make that noise?

30) I’ve lead a good life, I’m content if we crash….

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31) My TV remote isn’t working.

32) I’m going to put my chair back………this could get awkward…

33) Phew they’re asleep they won’t notice.

34) The person in front put their chair back….fuck you!

35) But it gives me a good reason to put my chair back.

36) My seats stuck.

37) Is it acceptable to wear just socks to the toilet?

38) I’m back from the toilet bitches.

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39) Someone shut that kid up…

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40) Seeing other airports and then planes taking off is pretty awesome.

41) Spotting other planes flying in the distance and realising your one of many thousands of planes in the air.

42) WHY IS THERE A LITTLE HOLE IN MY WINDOW!!?

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43) What can I take from the goody bag?

44) Why is it so cold? I need my blanket.

45) *Spends rest of flight trying to get comfy*

46)Seeing the blackness of space is a whole other level…

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47) As is catching the sunset or sunrise..

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48) As well as flying over cities at night…

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49) Looking out the window and trying to guess where you are without using the TV in your seat.

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50) Don’t lean over me to see out the window you moron.

51) Are you going to eat that desert?

52) Stop. Snoring.

53) That one old chap who has a few to many beverages.

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54) “ladies and gentlemen we have started our decent”….. this better be a good landing….

55) That was a good landing! I’ll clap next time…

56) When you’ve landed and a lady near you says “That was a smooth landing! In Lanzarote I had an awfully bumpy one”

57) stewardess; “Thanks, see you soon”………. let’s be honest, it’s unlikely.

Leavingggg on a Jet Plane.

Ah, the final leg of my 3 month journey. I was leaving the land of Chic Fillet, devout Christians and crazy drivers (that’s the south in a nutshell) to return to the Big Apple. The next day I would board my final flight which would take me home to London.

I arrived in New York La Guardia Airport after an enlightening flight with Frontier Airlines. The 2 hour flight was about $90 so I can’t really complain but the seats were about as thin as a piece of card and hard as nails. They also had barely enough leg room for a hamster which was an issue for me and a fellow 6ft 4er sitting behind me. There were spare exit seats but they cost $80 and no amount of shocking flirting got me one for free. I also found it pretty funny that when us passengers weren’t listening to an announcement the cabin crew lady shouted down the PA system; “Helooooooooo”. You could see it was budget airline and I found it pretty funny, but the flight was actually fine.

In New York I was to be staying one night at Q4 hostel in upper Queens but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get there on the subway from the airport. In London I’m used to there being an underground map everywhere I turn and helpful staff waiting to assist you. But I swear there was not one map on the subway station so I was forced to do that age old thing of talking to people. Eventually I got to my hostel which was probably the nicest one I had stayed at all summer to be fair. The shower was big and super warm whilst the beds were singles and large enough even for my gigantic form. I played pool with a few guys from the hostel then made a final pack of my backpack and fall asleep for the final time on American soil.

The journey to the JFK the next morning was a really pleasant one. To get to the airport you get the AirTrain which is a kind of monorail that sweeps through the city and has great views over most of the buildings. I checked in at the airport with Virgin which is the standard airline Camp America peeps fly with then hit the duty free. I’d somehow forgotten to get my mum and dad presents when I was travelling (bad I know) so a bottle of New York wine each from duty free was a good purchase at the airport! I got to my departure gate pretty early and was glad because it was right at the end of the terminal and had a huge glass end where you could see loads of the airport. I sat there for a good half an hour just watching all the goings on that were happening below and took a pretty good time-lapse.

On the flight the age old problem of my enormous legs popped up once again. Exit seats on virgin are about $70 extra and I aint paying that! On the flight over from London I just asked the steward very nicely and he discretely bumped me up to an exit seat for free without the paying customers noticing. Having done that I thought I’d try the same back to London.

They were having none of it.

I asked one lady and she insisted I paid the extra. Thinking she might be in a bad mood I asked another stewardess but she had the same answer. Not one to give up, I employed a new tactic; annoying them. I decided that my legs were not comfortable behind the chair in front of me so stuck them out in the aisle and went to sleep. Needless to say I got in their way and after about half an hour and 6 trolley journeys past my legs the stewardess came over and said I could move to a bulk head seat that had more leg room! VICTORY!

I sat down in my new seat feeling like a baws. I was now sitting  next to lady who had a son who was in competitive swimming and we spoke for hours about the swimmers life and the world they live in. Time flew and we had landed in Heathrow before I knew it. Bags collected, through the border and then out the airport to meet my dad who was picking me up after 3 months way.

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Back on English Soil!

I was back on English soil and in a car heading home to my own bed. I didn’t shut up the whole way home with my countless stories to tell.

Thoughts and feelings to follow; it’s going to be emotional.

Atlanta!

Atlanta would be the last stop on my 3 week long journey down the east coast of the USA and also my last destination with my travel bros Kyle and Marc. I had planned on making it down to Miami in Florida but to be honest I had a pretty good time in the last couple of weeks and my bank account had suffered for it! I could still afford to go to Miami but I would constantly be worrying about spending too much money and I think if you go to Miami that’s not the way you want to do it! Alas, there will hopefully be another time I’m in the states and I will be sure to travel Florida and much more the proper way!

We were travelling to Atlanta to visit another good friend from camp, Kailey. We were visiting her at her university (college for ya’ll American folk) which was just outside the main city. Before we even got to Atlanta we probably made one of the worst decisions of our entire journey. In order to get to Atlanta at a reasonable time for Kailey to pick us up we had to book with another bus company other than the trusty old Megabus! We decided to book with the company Greyhound and were optimistic of a good journey. Our optimism couldn’t have been more misplaced. From the customer service at the bus station to the 50 year old bus we were on to the crappy seats with no leg room, it was shocking! Unfortunately I didn’t have another bus journey in the states as I was flying to back to New York from Atlanta to fly home. Forgive me Megabus for betraying you; I’ll never be so silly again 🙂

Kailey met us at the bus station and was instantly pissed because we were apparently dropped off in ‘the hood’ where bad stuff happens. To add insult to injury when we got to her car it had a clamp on it! Thee a big guy dressed in all black with shades and a snap back who came over and explained that Kailey hadn’t bought a ticket and it was $70 to take it off.  I was well suspicious of this dude. Not only did he look like a drug dealer but private clamping in the UK is illegal so I was thinking ‘he’s a blasted criminal!’ turns out he wasn’t and it was all legit and $70 late we were on our way to Kailey’s university.

After a very nerve wracking ride where my hands got pretty sweaty (Atlanta divers are insane and have a death wish) we arrived a Kailey’s Uni.  We chilled there for a bit then hit the local arcade in the evening! The deal of the night was Laser tag, arcade credits and 2 hours bowling for $12! We were meant to get 20 credits each but we ended up with 50. So lots numerous toys were won and hundreds of zombies killed!

Zombie Slayers in Action.
Zombie Slayers in Action.

The next day Kyle and Marc left for Nashville. This meant I was to saying goodbye to them for the final time. We dropped them off at the bus station in Atlanta and a couple of man hugs later they were off. I was staying one more night and the next day Kailey and I went to my 3rd baseball game of the summer. To be honest baseball is the most boring sport I’ve ever watched. It’s even worse than cricket; at least in cricket they hit the ball more than a dozen times in the space of 3 hours.

So exciting it sold out.
So exciting it sold out.

To be fair the first baseball game I went to was pretty fun. That was a minor league baseball game that the whole of the camp staff went to. It was a lot more personal; the players could hear what you were shouting at them and the atmosphere was just more fun. Plus it was free!

After the baseball game it was time for me to leave at Atlanta and catch a flight to New York. There I would stay one night in a hostel then catch my flight from JFK the next day to return to London! I said my goodbyes to Kailey when she dropped me of at the airport knowing she was the last person from camp I would see this summer! I had a few hours to my flight so once checked in I hit up the main lounge area, pulled up a chair, tied my bags to myself then caught a well needed nap.

North Carolina!

North Carolina was the first real southern state I would be visiting on my travels through the country. I was going to be arriving in the capital Charlotte and staying in a small town half an hour’s drive away. I was told to expect ‘southern hospitality’, lots of Chic Fillet’ (a southern food chain) and the streets to be empty on a Sunday as everyone would be at church. Many people also asked why I was going to Charlotte – ‘Eugh, why are you going to Charlotte?’ was the common question. The simple answer was that Kyle, Marc and I were travelling to North Carolina to visit our best friend from over the summer – Sasha, and it turned out to be one of our most enjoyable destinations yet!

We arrived in Charlotte on the trusty Megabus to find a beaming Sasha excited to pick us up! It was late in the afternoon and we had agreed to get food when we met, so we put our bags in Sasha’s car and drove straight to a Mexican restaurant. Here we had the biggest cocktails that I’ve ever had; they were large on the menu and they meant it! We also nearly got in an argument with a grumpy old man sitting behind us because we were apparently moving around too much on our bench. Knowing this was the south I pretended to be gay in order to piss him off that little bit more (you can see his head in the photo below). I ordered the meatiest food I could find on the menu which included shrimps, steak and chicken which was duley devoured.

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HUGE cocktails!

After the Mexican restaurant we popped into a bar for a drink then headed back to Sasha’s apartment where we would be crashing for two nights. Sasha’s apartment was lovely and cosy with 2 sofas to crash on and a blow up bed for the lucky one of us. Sasha had bought a small brown dog just before we had arrived and it was instantly petrified of us when we entered the apartment! The Dog was running around barking and growling at us and i didn’t trust it from the start! I think she was a rescue dog and had a chequered past which made her this way. Never the less she seemed to have calmed down a bit after we had settled in. Or so we thought. There we were engaging in the classic Netflix and chill on the sofas while Kyle was on the floor next to the dogs bed trying to make a friend. All of a sudden when Kyle got too close the dog started growling an went for his finger! We were all pretty shocked then Kyle showed us his cut and bleeding finger! Sasha tended to it so the bleeding stopped and then told her dog off. I made sure not to go near the dog again – crazy bitch. We watched Netflix for the rest of the night then hit the hay.

The next morning I was up at 7.30 am while Kyle and Marc were still asleep as I was going with Sasha to her high school swim team practice. I was going to help coach the 1 ½ hour session with her as we had been the camps swim coaches over summer where she had always talked about her high school swim team and how proud of it she was! We arrived at the pool and I was amazed at how good it was! 3 high schools shared this pool and it had TWO 10 lane 25m swimming pools all prepped and ready for competing! Back home it is unheard of to have secondary schools with swimming pools like this unless they’re the top private ones! Even community pools in London only usually have 1 25m pool! You can really see why the Americans dominate swimming on the international stage! The session was good fun, there were about 20 kids ranging in ability and they listened well and enjoyed the new things they tried out!

After the session we grabbed a coffee to stay awake then headed back to the apartment to pick up Kyle and Marc as it was time to go to work at a car wash! The car wash was Sasha’s high school drama departments fund raising event to raise money for the department play. We had a space in the local Chic Fillet’ parking lot to wash the cars and had kids standing by the main road with car wash signs and donation boxes. The community in the local area really support the high school.  A fair amount of people come through to get their car washed and people even pulled up just to donate without getting their car washed. We 3 guys got stuck in and I took responsibility for making the wheels and hub caps extra shiny while the other people were in control of the hose and washing the body! It was a fun time but the kids were going to be there for a few more hours and we had a big last night ahead of us so we headed back to the apartment to have showers and chill. That night we headed out to the outskirts of Charlotte to a bar with giant Jenga and Battleships. Once we had played enough games we then headed to a Brewery bar. I forget the name of the brewery bar but my god it was amazing! We arrived at around 10.30 and it was packed with people having a merry good time. We found a high table with some stools and promptly ordered a tray each of 5 small glasses of different beers brewed in the local area. They ranged from pale ales to stouts and all tasted great! Kyle then ordered some bread sticks with a pot of cheese to dunk them in and my word the cheese tasted amazing, i couldn’t get enough of it! Impressed by the quality and taste of the food I expectantly ordered steak tips. I wasn’t disappointed- the steak was magnificent and I would have ordered more if I knew I could eat it! Truly blown away by the food we had eaten and the drinks we consumed we left the brewery happy bunnies and headed home for the night.

MY next stop was going to be Atlanta which was to be my final stop on this trip before heading back to New York to fly home. I had planned to make it as far south as Florida but without realising it I had pretty much spent all my money that camp had payed me and I wanted to have some dollar left over when I returned home. As a result I brought my flight home a week early. I dint really mind though, I had seen so much of the states so far and 1 week less wasn’t a killer. Plus, I had already made my mind i was coming back to the states one day.

North Carolina and Sasha were great to us. When people ask again; ‘Eugh, why would you want to go to Charlotte?’ I’ll tell them; ‘Because it’s a bloody cool town, with amazing people, amazing food and that all important southern hospitality’.

DC Stands For Delicious Chicken!

Stepping off the Coach in Washington DC at midday I was greeted with a wall of heat and humidity that that made you feel like you were in the Mediterranean – minus the sea breeze! We arrived at our hostel slightly sweaty and dropped off our bags as check wasn’t for a couple of hours. There was no sign of Kieran at the hostel but we had more pressing matters on our hands – food.  This was not just any old food though. Back home in London I often visit the church of the chicken gods, i.e. Nando’s, and devour their scrumptious meals. I had no idea Nando’s was even a thing in the USA, but Dan said there were actually 4 in the USA and he was planning to visit all of them on his travels. Even better, there was a one in DC!

A short walk from our hostel was this rare American Nando’s. Inside it felt like home, the set up was the same and I ordered my usual; a whole chicken and 2 small sides of chips and macho peas – gotta have the greens! I liked the fact that on their menu Nando’s called slices of cooked potato by their proper name of chips, and then put fries in brackets next to it.

The Church of Chicken
The Church of Chicken
They Know.
They Know.

Back home I usually just about manage to finish the whole chicken and two small sides. However, when my food came out they had given me two large sides! I knew it would be a tough ask to finish it! I munched my way through it but no amount of breaks or sips of water could help me finish the monster meal. I was defeated for the first time by a Nando’s meal. At the end of the meal I was deep in a food coma and we sat there for a while mustering the will to get up and leave.

The Victor.
The Victor.

Eventually we gained the strength to leave and we went back to check into our hostel where we were reunited with Kieran. There he informed us that the Rocky steps were still closed the previous night where he left us at the karaoke bar and he didn’t get to run up them! I guess It just wasn’t meant to be! We settled in, chilled out in the communal sitting room then had a few drinks in the back garden.

The hostel we had checked into was called Duo Hostel – everyone I knew who was in DC (Dan, Kieran, Raska, Marc and Kyle) had all booked here as it had the best ratings out of all the hostels in DC. The hostel itself was great with great facilities, but the staff, my god the staff were annoying. I don’t often have a bad word to say about hostels but two of the staff just didn’t have a clue how to talk to customers and blamed you if something went wrong. For instance; upon arrival I wanted to book an extra night at the hostel so I did this with the lady at reception. She then told me after i had payed that i would have to check out at 11am then check back in at 3pm as I was moving rooms. I told her she should of told me this before I had paid and she said I should have assumed that was going to happen and she didn’t understand what my problem was. I asked her to keep me in the same room but she said that she couldn’t change it without a manger. A few minutes after this she decided to have little moan to the manager about what had happened, she done this in front of me and my friends! Luckily the manger saw the light and told her what she had done was wrong and he corrected the booking so i wouldn’t have to check out and back in. Justice served, but man she shouldn’t be working in a hostel! Anyway that’s my little rant over with. Had to get that off my chest. That night we had a few drinks and met some really cool people in the hostel who we chatted to for a long time before hitting the hay.

Keeping up the tradition of having one good tourist day in each city, the next day I visited the multiple monuments and museums in DC. The great thing about DC is that all the museums and interesting sites are concentrated in a region of the city that has all been planned out and is called The National Mall. Everything is within walking distance which is great because you don’t have to spend money on transport but it was also a killer walking in the heat. This was the furthest south I’ve been so far; the heat was unbearable and there were no clouds to give you rest from the sun. Due to this I found myself walking into buildings I didn’t intend to visit just so I could have a minute of air conditioning!

First on the list was the White House. This was disappointing and smelly. Disappointing because you can’t see the building that well; it is so far away it looks like a tiny model house. The area where I viewed it from was also reeking of sewage so the whole White House thing was a let-down. Plus, I dint see Obama shooting some hoops. Anyway, on-wards and upwards. The Washington monument was built to commemorate the first American President – George Washington. The structure took 40 years to complete (1848-1888), is in the middle of The National Mall and is the world’s tallest stone structure standing at 169.4m tall. You have the option of going to the top but I’d done the empire state building before so I’ve had my fill of being overcharged to see something from a different angle. A picture in passing was sufficient and I moved onto what I actually came for; the Smithsonian Museums.

The Smithsonian Museums are part of the USA’s Smithsonian institution. 17 of these museums are in Washington DC and 11 of them are in the area of The National Mall. 11 museums in walking distance? That’s a lot to visit! In order to get the most out of the day I whipped out a map and chose the 3 museums that I would enjoy the most. These were the museums of American history, Natural History and Air and Space. If these aren’t your scene the other museums in The National Mall include the museums of Asian art, Arts and Industries, Contemporary and Modern Art, African American History and Art, African Art and Native American History and Art. Other than being really interesting they’re also free!

The Museum of American History was really insightful; it started right at the beginning with the War of Independence and has the huge original star spangled banner that was raised above Fort McHenry during the battle of 1812. It’s in a darkened room and photos aren’t allowed as its slowly disintegrating and light can damage it further. The rest of the museum is also really insightful and has pieces up until the modern era including helicopters from the Vietnam War and steel work from the Twin Towers. The Natural History museum was also great but very similar to the Natural History Museum in London so I’d seen most of it before. My favorite out of the 3 was the Museum of Air and Space. The museum has a large collection of air and space history including rockets and satellites and also has tonnes of interactive pieces that kept my inner child entertained for a couple of hours.

After the Smithsonian’s I was pretty exhausted and walked back to the hostel popping into a few banks along the way to use their air conditioning! That night we went out with the hostel to a dive bar up the road it wasn’t really anyone’s scene but there was a courtyard out back where everyone ended up and had a good chat!

All in all DC was great but probably my least favorite destination so far on my travels. Even though the hostel we stayed at was one of the best rated in DC, the staff often left you disappointed and could really work on their customer service. The nightlife we saw was also a bit dull. Maybe I’ve done too much touristy stuff or the heat got to me but the White House and Washington Monument are just not worth a visit. However, the Smithsonian Museums are great as is the Lincoln memorial and the pristine parks in The National Mall and surrounding areas. Up next was South Carolina where we were to be visiting one of our best friends over the summer and my fellow swim coach – Sasha!