Day in the Life of a Camp Counsellor

Right, imagine getting the opportunity to work in America for three months (paid might I add) as a sports counsellor and then get the opportunity to travel America after. This was a done deal for me, I would’ve been sold after reading that alone. In this blog, I’m going to talk you through what a typical day in the life of a Camp Counsellor is like. If you get the opportunity to do this in your lifetime, jump at it and grab it with both hands.

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Let me give you a little rundown of what it was all about. So, I was a camp counsellor at Long Lake Camp for the Arts in upstate New York. Long lake is a specialist camp with all the traditional camp activities. I looked up different photos online of what the camp would look like and lists of the activities offered but you really have to see it to believe it. There were theatres, circus areas, a huge lake and the list goes on. Long Lake is a sleep-away camp, which means that campers spend the nights sleeping in cabins. There can be up to about thirteen children in each cabin along with 3 counsellors with only three toilets… so as you can imagine in the mornings, 3 very annoyed counsellors waiting for 13 fifteen year olds to get ready, I’ll say no more. For me every day was different, one day I was paintballing, the next I was doing high ropes, every day in camp is a new experience. Some days are harder than others as you have to remember you are in a foreign country working crazy hours and are probably a little homesick, but it’s so important to remind yourself why you are here, don’t let these little setbacks ruin your experience, fight through them and trust me once your past the week 1 mark, you’ll not want to leave.

Mornings at Camp!

RM6Rise and shine. The first task of the day as a Camp Counsellor is to get the kids up and excited for the day ahead! This can be a difficult task as a 7.30am start didn’t seem to excite many of the kids (including myself). The best method of getting everyone up and ready for the day ahead was lights on and music blaring, each day someone different got to choose the music. The fact that the camp I worked at was a performing arts camp there was sooo much talent, like these kids were insane so meal times especially would be full of singing and dancing which brought a real buzz to the place. The breakfast itself was well let’s just say it was very American, the sugar high was real, but I wasn’t complaining.

Activities

After breakfast is a cabin inspection which is a real pain in the a** (if you don’t pass). Then time for the activities to start. At Long Lake, the kids choose their own schedule every day, they literally can do anything they want, it’s our job as counsellors to promote our activities so each morning and afternoon we would hold a camp meeting where the head of each department tried to promote their activity to let each of the campers know what’s going on in that particular day.RM7

The options are bottomless really, if they want to do something, we found a way to do it, which was challenging at times but kept me on my toes.Activity time is time for specialist counsellors such as myself to head in their separate directions to teach the different activities. I was the head of the sports department so a typical day for myself was first of all creating a schedule for the different members within the sports department then from there I would take kids down crazy ATV trails or take them out on the jet skis, really whatever they wanted to do, I was doing it.

Every day I got a period off, which I usually took later in the day to give me a chance to ring home, other times I would get involved in an activity at camp which I was not familiar with the different activities on offer meant that you could learn a new skill or try something different every day! I tried everything camp had to offer, even daring to go on the flying trapeze in the circus, all I can say is fair play to the circus staff, once was enough for me.

Evening Activities

After dinner was a chance to chill out with campers and friends and get ready for our evening activities. Personally, this was my favourite time of the day because it was recognition of another day well done and also most of the time we got s’mores. EveRM8ry evening at long lake a new activity was on offer, our evenings would be spent watching performances, bonfire nights, ice cream socials or camping trips away to our local campsite. They really thought of everything.

Nights at Camp

When evening activities finish, ill not lie I am completely shattered at this point, you’re on the go from 7am-10pm. At long lake counsellors work on a rota in the evenings. One counsellor and a CIT (Counsellor in Training) take care of the kids and settle them for the evening. The other two counsellors can take the evening off. I oversaw the oldest girls, trying to get 35 16-year-old girls to go to bed before 11pm was a complete task in itself, thankfully it was only once a week! What do I miss most about my nights at camp? Simple… the lake. On one of my last nights at camp, the capers asked me if we could go to the lake and stargaze. I’d never seen so many stars in my life, the Adirondack sky truly lit up it was by far one of my highlights of my camp experience.RM9

Yes, the days are long, you may miss home but my experience at camp honestly made me mature in so many different ways, it opened me up to a different career opportunity, it allowed me to experience a different culture and overall it allowed me to have a summer of a lifetime with some of the best people I’ve ever met, I know may sound cliché but it’s the truth.

RM10So, what are you doing this summer?

Rachel Magee is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmagee98 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-magee-52328016b/

Top 10 Tips For Surviving Disney World

If you’ve never been or never waned to go to Disney World please put it right at the top of your bucket list as a must. Honestly, it’s one of the best experiences ever. However, if you’re one for lounging about chillin’ by a pool then Disney World probably isn’t for you.

I’ve decided to be the good samaritan and jot down my top 10 tips for surviving the famous Walt Disney World.

1.Plan it out – This is tip number one because hand on heart this will make your Disney experience 1000000x better. No joke. Disney World is a big place (fun fact: it’s the same size as San Francisco. Crazy right?). Plan when you’re going to go and what park you are going to do on what day. To do it right, take a park each day. Trust me, it’ll help you in the long run.

2. Take Rain Attire – If you are planning to go during the Summer months be prepared for rain. A lot of it. Hate to be bearer of bad news but it normally rains or a tropical storm happens every day in Florida so bring your wet gear. Don’t let this put you off though because you don’t even think about that when you’re there. Plus it’ll only rain for an hour or two. So either buy a poncho before you go or get one at the park. They cost like 15 bucks but they have a cute Disney logo on the back of it so its acceptable. I bought it and still don’t regret it. Side note: take it home with you and use it for festivals or outdoorsy things, it’s a lifesaver. Bring flip flops in your bag too. Nobody wants wet, squidgy feet.

3. FastPasses – Best thing about buying package tickets online is the fact that you normally get FastPasses included in your price. With Disney you get 3 FastPasses per day to use. So if your staying at a Disney Resort you get 60 days in advance to make your FastPasses and if you’re staying anywhere else it’s 30 days. Use this to your advantage. It saves you so much time when standing in lines because if you don’t be prepared to stand in a 40 minute queue. It’s your own fault though. You set these up through the MyDisney Experience app.

4. To Do Rides: Okay these are my top attractions in Disney World. 10/10 would recommend.

  • Flight of Passage
  • Tower of Terror
  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Expedition Everest
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Frozen
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Mission: Space
  • Peter Pans Flight
  • Rock N’ Roller Coaster
  • Space Mountain

5. Mobile Quick Service Food – You can find this on the MyDisney Experience App. Go onto the app and order your food from a quick service near you. You’ll pay through the app so all you have to do is go pick it up.  It’ll save you from standing in even more queues.

6. Shows– If you are going to choose a closing show at night to go see make Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom your number one. So good. So magical. You won’t be disappointed. To be honest, you won’t be disappointed in anything Disney but this is just insane. Side note no.2: instead of getting the monorail to the transport center after the fireworks because its queue galore get it to the Grand Floridian and get an Uber there – you’ll save a load of time.

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7. Get a Magic Band  – A Magic Band is a band around your wrist that links to your Disney Ticket. You have to buy them but they’re a cute accessory. If you get irritated easily with having to go in and out of your bag for your ticket because you need to scan it to get onto your FastPass rides buy one of these.

8. Single Riders Line – If you don’t mind being separated from who your with whilst on an attraction at Disney then make use of this. The length of time that you would have spent in a normal queue is nonexistent in a single rider queue.

9. Toy Story Land in the evening or cloudy day – Please don’t make the mistake of going to Toy Story Land during the day or you’ll prolly end up looking like a squashie if you know what I mean. There is no shelter whatsoever so go on a cloudy day or during the evening when it’s all lit up nice and that.

10. Be a child for the day. – Don’t be a party pooper. Enjoy yourself because everyone else is. Disney brings out the inner child in everyone (or so I think). So if you wanna go on a flying elephant Dumbo ride and wear Mickey Mouse ears, you do you boo. After all you’re at the happiest place on earth.

So now you can go home and live Happily Ever After that you did Disney right.

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Courtney O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Courtneyon21 and Linkedin: @courtneyoneill

A Brief Enquiry into Gun Violence and Media Relationships

Roll that 90’s VHS Tape… were our early counter arguments in the 1990’s the exact same thing, ‘it’s not our fault, it’s just a game.?’ Or is it time to look beyond this ‘he said they cause violence, she said they’re just games’ style of argument this conversation has been mired in for decades.

We need to get down to the real story, the scientific fact;

Does video game violence make people more violent?

First and foremost, the intention of my second blog post for the Ulster PR Student Blog is to talk about a relevant conversation that is taking place in today’s society, my goal is in no way to propose some sort of solution, I am in no way qualified to make such a call . Do video games make the users who play them more violent and is there a connection between video games and the ‘issue’ of gun violence in the United States of America.

 De-constructing the links between video games and crime.

In order to correctly investigate this topic, let’s begin at the start. With platforms like the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 rocketing to popularity in the mid-nineties, one of the first ‘big release’ titles to take place at the dawn of the gaming era was Mortal Kombat (1992) followed by Wolfenstein 3D (1992) and Doom (1993). These pioneers’ titles have gone on to cause an explosion of popularity in the 2000’s, turning a nerdy pastime into a pivotal experience in popular culture. The interest of gaming has also inspired negative feedback in the direction of the ‘big bad’ gaming studios that have created the modern releases of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Battlefield titles.

 

FS1Source: Medium – The Incomplete History of Video Game Sales

Wouldn’t it be plausible to state that if the release of these titles in the mid-nineties and the early – mid noughties have been influencing youth culture to commit violent/ in humane acts that this would show on a registered crime statistics chart?

I beg to differ; in fact, the science proves that there is no visible correlation.

 

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Source: Fivethirtyeight – The U.S rate is up still far below it’s 1980 peak.

I believe the ideals ofconstitution of the United States in Americain which it’s citizens have the oppurtunity to buy firearms, in order to protect themselves as one of their basic human rights began well in principle.. that is, for the legal owners of registered firearms.

 

But the line is not so black and white anymore, we live in a society where violence occurs everyday, but can we blame really blame video games for the astronomical numbers of school shootings taking place in the U.S?  In my opinion, that’s a cop out and a distorted view of a much larger picture.

It’s very difficult for myself as an Irish person or a person from any other culture to critique or to talk about another country, the counter – argument would be that ‘you don’t have a right to speak about a society you haven’t grown up in.’ But as an objective earthling, it easy to acknowledge the criticism’s American society faces, that being instituionalised racism and guns.

They’re there and they are so heavily engraved in American society.

It is interesting to take note that as a society we have become more aware of the dangers of social media. But there are no guidelines from reputable bodies advising on how to properly manage your social media intake. This is an fascinating comparison in the conversation of gun violence because once you introduce a tool that becomes such an integral part of society be it guns or social media, you cannot take it away, you can’t immediately remove the source. The change must occur from within, from the individual, but this is highly unlikely to happen because there is so much to lose…money, which in this situation is more valuable than human life.

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Francis Sherry is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Instagram: frankoosherry

 

 

Fear and Loathing in Kingman, Arizona

For my first blog post for the Ulster PR Student blog I decided to write about a topic / experience I consider important and the impact that it had on myself as an individual. In the summer of 2018, I embarked on a road trip across the United States of America with my three best friends in a Dodge caravan.

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This motley crew consisted of a German American named Yanique Apgar, Jake Becker from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, two Irish men (including myself) and a lad from Carland, County Tyrone. One thing we shared in common? We had all met at a summer camp in Fryeburg, Maine in 2017.

The surreal and bizarre choice of wording for my title is deliberate and a direct reference to Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.’ A basic synopsis of the novel revolves around journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo as they travel to Las Vegas in 1971 in search of the ‘American Dream.’

From an early age I’ve found the concept of the American Dream and American culture fascinating. One of the many definitions available describe it as ‘the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.’ Basically, meaning if you work hard enough you are entitled to the millions of dollars that you deserve.

When myself and my friends planned this road trip spanning from East coast to West coast, I was excited to see if the American consumerism and excess Hunter Thompson described in his novel still existed and if Las Vegas still symbolized the coarse ugliness of mainstream American culture. So, in a way, we were looking for the American Dream as well.

‘Buy the ticket, take the ride.’

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The first phase of our trip involved a 17-hour over-night drive from Boston, MA to Nashville, TN. The layout of the people carrier we were driving allowed for two passengers to sleep in the back (since the seats could be concealed in the body of the vehicle), whilst there was a driver and co-pilot in the front. The foggy descent along the East Coast travelling through New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and West Virginia into the South was an endurance test for all of us. My last recollection of the East coast was seeing the bright, high-standing structures of New York City, as I had decided to rest in the back and take the second shift of driving once, we arrived in Nashville.

We arrived in Nashville and had decided to enjoy one night on the town. We visited the main strip, a variety of vintage guitar shops and famous honky-tonk bars, a brief taste of what southern culture had to offer.

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Then came the bruiser…

My friend Jake had contacts in Golden, Colorado who we had decided to meet up with. Our trip was based on a 10-day window to arrive in San Diego, CA as I had to board a flight to NYC to meet my family. This meant I was riding shotgun for a 17-hour drive straight through the night through both Missouri and Kansas. This was a change from the opulence and wealth you’d experience on the East coast. Both Missouri and Kansas hold proud agricultural significance for the US, but what did this mean for us? 1,000 miles of driving through corn fields…

When we arrived in Colorado however, we were treated like kings. Jake’s friend’s family put us up in their mansion located in the Rocky Mountains.

After four days of wining and dining like celebrities in Denver, Boulder and Golden Colorado, it was time to travel the most significant leg of our trip, through the Utah desert.

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We had been experiencing problems with the axel of the caravan, this problem only escalated when approaching state lines leaving Utah and into Arizona. One of our back tires exploded on the desert highway leaving us stranded. After two hours with limited signal coverage a friendly passer-by stopped his pickup to offer assistance.

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The good Samaritan was a Native American who explained to us that his ‘son owned a reservation down the road,’ and that he would be more than happy to offer assistance. When we arrived on the reservation, we couldn’t help but notice how harsh the living conditions of the desert were for native American families living there. But also, a feeling for admiration for how resilient they must have been to continue life as normal in such a hostile environment.

Where was the reservation located? Around 50 miles outside the city limits of Las Vegas…

This made me reflect on the writings of Hunter Thompson and his critique of whether or not the American Dream was still alive and it’s relevance during our era.   Has the ‘get rich quick’ culture popularised today with social influencers, multi-media conglomerates and celebrity youth culture made us lose our moral compass?  Did me and my friends find the American Dream?

Francis Sherry is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Instagram: frankoosherry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lil Lemon in the Big Apple

As I sit down to write my second ever blog post the one thing that keeps coming to my mind to write about is New York City and the short time I spent there. This is strange because anytime in person when I try to describe my time there I can never seem to find the words, nor when I do find some words do I feel like they do the place justice. However, I will give it a go.

In a city that never sleeps, I never slept. How could I when being here was something I fantasied over in my dreams for as long as I can remember. It seemed to be a distant dream, one that I never knew would come true so quickly and at the tender age of 21. The television and a movie with NYC in it was the place I’d go to get there on a weekly basis. Once I got there and hopped off the bus it was clear that neither my dreams nor the television ever came close to what it was like actually being there.

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My cousin Micheal and I at Times Square

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. I will advise you on what not to do though if you are going to walk it. Don’t do it with a hangover and don’t do it in near 40® C heat, it’s a bad combination. This is the most important one, do not under any circumstances bring your luggage consisting of two kit-bags and a full suitcase across it with you. If you can’t check in like us then just do yourself a favour and ditch the luggage. You’ll be doing yourself a favour and taking in the views will be a lot more enjoyable. Also do not dress like a white trash hillbilly like this guy below. There are thousands of people walking across that bridge and they will all give you that same dirty look. I blame Patron Tequila from the night before for the fashion mishap that day.

 

 

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Hillbilly gets picture on the Brooklyn Bridge with all his luggage

Visit Ground Zero. This is where the famous Twin Towers once stood and where the new Tower One stands, dwarfing all the other buildings in the city. Standing and taking in the atmosphere around the footprints of where the Towers once stood before the cowardly attack took place was one of the most surreal things I have ever done. It is hard to describe but everyone just knew to be that little bit quieter. Standing where thousands of people lost their lives would have that effect on people and that little show of respect by the thousands gathering at a time was something I will never forget.

 

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9/11 Memorial site

Get to the top of the Empire State Building. I wouldn’t recommend climbing it quite like King Kong did but each to their own I guess. I’m easy going so I took the elevator. It is a long ride to the top but the elevator music was good. I was in the elevator for a good length of time and could almost hum the tune exactly how it was six months on. The long elevator ride was worth it though, the view was stunning. The sheer size of the city was almost incomprehensible. The fact that I once again had a slight hangover didn’t help with me trying to get my head around this head staggering view that was Manhattan. It’s starting to sound like I have an alcohol problem but I promise that’s not the case. It was one weekend away in New York and I turned 21 that Friday, so cut me some slack.

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Top of the Empire state Building

There are many more famous things to do that I could tell you about but a personal recommendation and one you’ll not get anywhere else is what I’m about to tell you.

Accommodation. When booking a place to stay in New York try to avoid hotels and well known apartment spots. Narrow your searches down to apartments that you haven’t heard of as much but still have a look at the pictures of the place to make sure it isn’t a dungeon. Once you’ve found the spot do not book it online or over the phone. Instead go to the premises and try to bargain with the owner. If you pay cash you’ll be sure to get a massive discount. Also be sure to ask for a top floor room, if you are lucky like me and my friends were you’ll find the exit to the rooftop. No need to go to a rooftop bar when you can have your own. Get a speaker, put on the tunes, crack open a beer and take in your very own rooftop view. It will be hard to find one as good as this spot below but here’s to me hoping you do and that you make it to New York. It is safe to say I will be back and that I found some words to describe my time there. I hope you all take something from this.

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Apartment rooftop views. Two blocks away and standing above was the Empire State Building lit up in French colours on the day they won the 2018 World Cup.

NYC, As You Were. CL x

Connell Lemon is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – connell_lemon97 ; Facebook – Connell  Lemon.

A Stateside Summer

A Stateside Summer

Home for the next 14 weeks…

Wow! Where do I even begin to describe the BEST summer of my entire life? Well…

The 8th June, 2018 at Dublin Airport <DUB>. The day I left all my friends and family behind for 14 weeks to go and work at a summer camp, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

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Saying goodbye to my family!(my dad and brother trying not to cry was so cute!)

After a 6 hour flight, I touched down at Logan International Airport, Boston <BOS>.  A couple of hours of waiting around later, the Camp Assistant Directors, Vicky and Kevin came to collect me and a few (equally as nervous) camp-goers. Little did I know, within weeks, these people would become some of my best friends in the world!

A 90 minute bus journey later, and I had arrived at a place I now called home, Camp Burgess and Hayward,  in a small town called Sandwich (lol yes, i know), Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I was greeted by about 10 or so people, who arrived at camp before me (one of them being my best friend Jessie – who i’ll talk about later!). Everyone was immediately so so friendly and welcoming, I couldn’t believe it! First thing was first though…SLEEP! I could feel the jet lag starting to kick in already. The Camp Director, Allie, brought me and another girl, Megan, from Liverpool to our room where we would be staying the ENTIRE summer as ROOMIES!

Where it all began…

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This is the van – my baby for 3 months! Fun fact: in this picture the van was stuck in sand for 6 hours, where we had to be rescued by the local police and then be threatened with a $1000 fine for it to be towed!!!! Luckily enough the tow-truck man loved my accent so let us off for free!

So basically, it’s a funny story how this whole trip came about. I initially never really had much interest or knowledge about the whole ‘Camp America’ thing, but my friend Jessie (who I mentioned before) had applied and was offered a job as a Horseback Director in January, at Camp Burgess and Hayward. She told me that she had got placed and I was over the moon for her, but also envious that I still had no plans for the summer.

Anyway, a few months passed, and in April, Jessie mentioned that the camp was still advertising for people to come and help out for the summer, and that they needed people to be van drivers. As soon as she told me I couldn’t have emailed the Camp Director, Allie any quicker. A whole 3 months at a summer camp, with my best friend, driving around in a van?! SO much fun, I couldn’t say no!

Allie (who was the BEST BOSS EVER) emailed me back and we arranged a phone interview. The interview consisted of questions about my driving abilities where I completely lied and said I had drove 1) an automatic before, 2) a van before and 3) on the other side of the road before. Thankfully Allie trusted me enough to give me the job!

So there it was – I was officially going Stateside for the summer, with 2 months to save up enough money to last me 14 weeks and to fill out enough paperwork to last me a LIFETIME.

A day in the life…

Every single day at camp was so different. There was a general schedule which we followed every day, but what happened within that day just depended. Each morning at 7.50am we would have ‘flagpole’. This was a fun way to start the day where a member of staff would stand up and do something to help wake everyone up, like teach everyone a dance or do some stretches. We then raised the flag and said the Pledge (so American, I know!)

We would then go to the dining hall for breakfast, which was usually something like pancakes or waffles (believe me, after eating the same food every day for 3 months you start to get sick of it). Although the food was always amazing and the kitchen staff worked so hard to cater for almost 400 people a day!

As one of my duties as Resource Specialist (the scientific name for van driver), I would do a run into the local town, Hyannis, which was about 20 minutes away, at 10am, where people would spend their days off. After that, I would usually have somGA3e wee jobs to do  in the morning time, like collect things for camp or do the daily Dunkin’ Donuts run!

Whenever I didn’t have any van related jobs, I would spend my time at the waterfront, playing on the water trampoline, over at horseback with the 12 gorgeous horses we had (Elsa was my favourite) or playing on the slip ‘n’ slide. Yes I know, my summer job was SO DIFFICULT AND BORING!!

Lunch and dinner time in the dining hall was by far one of my favourite parts of the day. Everybody gets up and sings at the top of their lungs, standing up on chairs and dancing around the place like crazy people! At the beginning it is so daunting, because everybody knows each other so well from previous years at camp, and being the new ‘international’, you feel so shy and awkward, but after a few times, you soon start to learn all the words and become just as crazy as the rest!

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This was the big bags of paint that we separated into small buckets. My hands were stained green for DAYS!

At camp, one of the big events was the colour run. This was one of my highlights of camp. The run was 5k around the camp property, and all the kids and staff took part. Hundreds of dollars worth of powered paint was ordered in, there was inflatables, waterguns, a popcorn stand and speakers blasting music all day. The atmosphere was literally unbelievable! It was a day i’ll never forget.

The grand finale of camp was our 2 day long colour war, M&P (Mariners and Pioneers). The Mariners are the blue team, and the Pioneers are the red team. The neutral team in the middle was purple (the team I was on).I can’t put into words how seriously this colour war is taken. Looking back it’s funny because it’s only a colour war at a summer camp, but people get so competitive. There literally was blood, sweat and tears over the course of the 2 days.

The Pionners won this year, and the moment it was announced, the whole camp ERUPTED! It was such an amazing way to end the best 3 months of my life.

After camp ended, me, Jessie and Megan did some travelling for 2 weeks. We went to Boston, New York and New Orleans. Safe to say it was a crazy whirlwind of events. I’ll leave it at that.

Anyway, here I am, a month and a half now i’ve been home. In final year and working 35 hours a week. The joys!! Roll on next June when I can return to the second place I like to call home!

G x

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Grainne Arkins is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grainne-arkins-a54401173/ and Twitter: @GrainneArkins

 

My summer of a lifetime – 5 things you need to do in Chicago during the summertime

So if your anything like me, you are hating these long, cold winter evenings. I am having serious summer blues and vitamin D withdrawal! What better way to get over these summer blues by reminiscing on the good times….. or just making myself even more upset that summer is over for another year.

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Chicago is the first place I have visited outside of Europe and I must admit – I have a sweet spot for this state and I left my heart there! I traveled to Chicago to work and live in the summer of 2016 for 3 months with a group of friends. I also visited Chicago last year on a mini weekend holiday whilst working in New York.

Chicago was everything and more! From street festivals, rooftop bars to the absolutely breath-taking lakefront, there is a long long list of things to do. Before jetting off for my summer of a life time with my friends I had a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do and see whilst over there!

What to do?

Beach daysNC1

A massive thing I loved about Chicago is you are always within a 10mile radius of the beach, no matter where you are in the city! North avenue beach was a personal favourite of mine, I mean look at that view! It is one of Chicago’s most popular beaches, this beach has everything you need for the perfect chillaxed day at a beach, there are volleyball courts, and a snack area including all my favs, nachos, hot-dogs, cheese fry’s the list goes on! There are also Jet Ski rentals which I highly recommend, and of course the bar! Although don’t say I didn’t warn you, this beach is the busiest in the city, I love the buzz about that but if you are looking for somewhere a bit quieter and relaxing I would suggest oak street beach which is also amazing.

Street festivals

There are endless amounts of street festivals on all the time in Chicago, from music street festivals to food festivals there is something for everyone. Myself and my friends got to work on a food stall at one of the food festivals called Taste of Chicago it was an amazing experience and we also got to go around all the different food stands, I was in my element as you can imagine!

Visit Cindy’s rooftop barNC2

If there’s one thing I love more than drinking in the sun, its drinking in the sun on a rooftop bar taking in the absolutely stunning views. Cindy’s was my favourite, it has the best views of the city and the atmosphere is amazing! Don’t get me wrong we most definitely were not living it up in rooftop bars all summer, we were J1ers after all and of course had to budget, but it was nice to get too treat ourselves every once in a while. We deserved it right?

Free movie in the park

As I mentioned, we were J1ers and some days were completely broke – I’m talking not even enough money to eat sort of broke! We’ve all been there.. Thank god for free movies in the park eh? Chicago park districts movie in the parks line-ups are pretty awesome, some movies myself and my friends went to see were grease, Mrs Doubt fire and footloose, footloose being my all-time favourite! Don’t disagree with me on this one. As you can see we made the most out of this whole free movie thing – just pack yourself some snacks, a blanket and your sorted!

Visit Navy PierNC4

Navy Pier is M-A-G-I-C-A-L, mark my words! Navy pier is one of Chicago’s top attractions, and once you visit you will understand why. Guys I honestly can’t put into words how amazing this place is, the pier has fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night during the summer which are a must see!

So guys if any of you are thinking of going away for the summer to work or just to visit – I highly recommend Chicago, it won’t let you down!

Niamh xx

Niamh Cosgrove is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-cosgrove-62b986131/