Director Jud's Blog

Camp Counselor Ivan Bishell Remembers 2010 @ SMA Teen Adventure Camp

Posted by Jud Millar on Tue, Dec 15, 2015

teen-adventure-camp-ivan.jpgMy name is Ivan Bishell and back in 2010 applied to Camp Leaders hoping to land a job at a USA Teen Summer Camp.  Some of my friends had done Camp Leaders and they told incredible stories about their experiences.  I had seen tv shows and movies of American summer camps and I just  wanted to experience it for myself. So I signed up for Camp Leaders to try and get me a place for the summer of 2010. I had a number of camps checking out my profile but nothing seemed to be happening, weeks went by until I finally saw that some one wanted me to work at their camp. I was so stoked I couldn't believe my luck just a few weeks to wait until I was there. Only a few days later I found out that they had canceled my placement, I was absolutely gutted, there was only a few weeks until placements had to be finalized and I was back at square one.  One day I got an e-mail from Director Jud Millar and after a lengthy SKYPE interview he offered me a job.  A month later I left England with high expectations to spend my summer at SMA Teen Summer Camp and my experience didn't disappoint. I left a good job and future prospects to follow a dream.  As people say "everything happens for a reason" and I believe this to be true, because if my original place  didn't fall through then I would never have had such a wonderful summer at SMA 2 week teen camp.


I remember arriving at camp for staff training and being introduced to the staff, everyone seemed to have such a massive personality. I felt like I must be in the wrong place, how can I live up to the same standard as all of these other people around me? I'm not the most confident of people and it always takes me a while to come out of my shell when meeting new people but I knew I was in the right place.  Even though I have lost contact with people who I met at camp, the bonds that I formed over the summer are something I will always look back on with fond memories.

 A group of Campers pose for a picture

SMA is a Teen Adventure Camp and it enabled me to experience things I have never done before (and haven't done since) such as rock climbing, canoeing, white water rafting. I'm so grateful to have had these experiences and really feel it has helped me appreciate life a little more. I'm terrified of heights and I remember going to rock climbing on staff training. Natalia was first to give it a try and she got so far up before she slipped and hit the rocks pretty hard, I though "no way am I doing that" I'll die if I try that. But when my turn eventually came I slowly but surely I made it to the top and kissed that carabiner it was one of the sweetest and satisfying things I have ever achieved, the cuts and bruises were a badge of honor to show I had earned it.


Something else that really sticks out is one day we went out to clean graffiti from the rocks close by. Me, Thatcher and the campers scrubbed endlessly until our fingers were swollen and sore but people driving by kept stopping and thanking us saying what a wonderful thing we were doing, that just made me want to scrub even harder. To know the work we did was actually appreciated made it even more worth while. It showed the impact that camp has on the local community and how the local community value hard work.  SMA is a true community service summer camp and I was proud to be a part of it.


Some other great memories of camp include disco roller skating, Toy Story 3, bunk junk, failing at wake boarding (but still loving it), candle meetings, camp fires, ultimate frisby, chilling out with campers and saying goodbyes (with lots of tears). I absolutely loved all of it and it was by far the best summer of my life!


I am now a proud father and when my son Dexter is old enough it is something I would definitely want him to experience. Knowing what an awesome time he would have, it would be cruel of me not to let him. I saw kids really open up at SMA Teen Summer Camp.  By experiencing SMA 2 week teen camp  campers come out of their shells and they leave camp completely different people to when they came. I feel blessed to have experienced Stone Mountain Adventures.


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