USA

(Click on Images for larger version)

When I was in my second year of University I signed up to work on a summer camp in the USA with Bunac. Two of my housemates also signed up, Mark Cooper and David Byrne, and we all ended up on the same camp, Camp Sequoia, Rock Hill, near Monticello, upstate New York.

The camp

The Bunkhouse

The canteen and Cheryl waitressing

We arrived in June 1994, on the day Italy played Norway in the world cup, in New York and the traffic was horrendous, queues all the way from the airport. We went through Queens, the Bronx and Harlem to get to Columbia University where we were staying the first night.

We met up with another guy from Manchester University who had been there before, and he took us on a tour of the city, taking in the Rockerfeller Plaza, Times Square and we went up the Empire state building.

Next day we had a 2 hour drive to the camp 70 miles North. The camp was very pleasant, with wooden accommodation and lots of sporting facilities, and a large lake. Most of the British staff, there were over 50 of us, were housed in our own accommodation away from the campers. The blokes were in a hut called the Brit-Pit, which was fairly cramped but cosy!

The Britpit is at the back with the Union Jack

The Cooks

Dave Byrne happy to be pictured

I was employed as a driver, to take the campers to activities such as Canoeing, Climbing and other outdoor activities, however for the first few days we were all involved in setting up the camp, repairing buildings and other maintenance that has to be performed before all the campers arrive. we did things such as repair roofs on the cabins, get all the grass cut and other tasks, which Dave and Mark would be doing throughout, under the supervision of a man called Corky who was incessantly bemused by their antics!

Dave posing again and Janine supervise in Color week 

Myself with some of the British staff

Myself with the British kitchen girls

When the vans arrived, they were large 16 seater minibuses, and also there was a nice Plymouth people carrier, which I drove as much as I could. Most of the time I would be driving upstate about 20 miles, to just past Bethel to drop off the canoeists, whilst towing 6 large canoes on a trailer, and experience since I had to get used to driving on the right also. I then had to pick them up in the evening from Port Jervis, a superbly nice town on the border of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which is the side I had to pick them up after a days canoeing down the Delaware river.

I also had to do other things such as hospital trips, picking up various groceries and other errands, which were fun as I got to experience everyday American life a bit more. Working on the camp was hard work, but great fun, and we got a day off a week which we could do what we wanted. We would get loaned a van and as long as we paid for the petrol, we could go anywhere.

Driving in New York City

Manhattan from the Car

Going across one of the NY bridges

One day off was spent in NYC, with the majority of the rest being spent around the Woodstock area, which was excellent, considering it was the 25th anniversary of the festival and there was a lot happening. We often visited the town and booked into a motel as a group and would go and enjoy lots of beer in the local bars. The festival actually happened 40 miles from the town of Woodstock, and was only a few miles from our Camp. I used to drive past the original site every day.

Shea Stadium, home of the Mets

Yankee Stadium

Woodstock Fire Department

The Woodstock 94 festival occurred at Saugerties, about 10 miles north of Woodstock, but we weren't allowed to go as it was a 3 day festival, and could only get 1 day off. However I did drive past the site the day after to pick up some hikers and saw the mountain of garbage that they had to clear up! When I did pick up the hikers, who had got lost and run out of food, I had to get on the phone as they were expecting me to bring a hamper for them, so after the phone call, I had to take them to McDonalds, sadly.

Statues in Woodstock 

Waterfall behind the Tinker Street Cafe

Woodstock Town Hall

Another day off was spent by the Delaware river, at Skinners falls, where you could hire massive inner tubes and float down some large rapids, and dry off with a cooler full of beer. We all spent the night in a local motel, as it was nice to get away from the bustle of camp.

A day at Skinners Falls, I'm far left.

Woodstock Town

Woodstock Town

Camp life was excellent as we could do any of the sports on offer in our spare time, water-skiing, tennis, softball, swimming to name a few, with football being the main occupation. The coach for the camp was a guy called Jim Davis, who was the youth team coach for Blackburn Rovers, (they won the premiership the next season), and he had an amusing incident when he was driving back with a van full of Pizzas for the camp and was stopped for driving the wrong way down a one way street. The cop asked him if he had seen the arrows, to which he replied, "I didn't even see the Indians". He spent the night in a cell as the cop had no sense of humour!!

A group of us at the Original Woodstock site

Jim Davis, the football coach

The Original Woodstock site

The nights were often spent in the New Dodge Inn, a 2 mile walk down the road, where we would get copious pitchers of beer, and had a whale of a time. They had a 1/2 yard of ale, which the Americans were afraid to do, but us Brits showed them how to do it many times. Once a guy came up and said if I did it I could have it for free, which I did very easily, however felt a bit sick later, and ran to the toilets, only to projectile vomit on a guy just leaving the toilet. He took it really well, found it funny in fact, changed his T-shirt, introduced me to his family and only wanted a beer to make up for it!! All the staff used to assemble there nightly, except those on duty for nights of merriment!!

Myself at the original Festival site

Myself at the original Festival site with a hat

Website designed by John Finch 1997-2005. Email john@plympton.info for details.