IOE hits the USA

January 10, 2013

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Three unique accounts of IOE’s USA summer camp trip.

In August 2012, Interchange Outer East took a group of eager participants and volunteers to experience life at a USA summer camp. Throw in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple and a trip to sporting Mecca, Fenway Park, for a Red Sox game, and there was sure to be no shortage of memories made and stories to tell. Three of IOE’s volunteers, Chiara Munzel, Jess Callaway and Maddy Clarke have shared their experiences (and lessons learnt – think jet lag, sasquatches and Ben & Jerry’s to name a few) below.

The first highlight of my trip to America was finally getting to sleep in a bed after 36 hours in airports and on airplanes; those camp mattresses have never felt more comfortable.  This was by far the longest time I had spent on a plane and if there was an alternate way of getting to America I would take it.
After enjoying eight hours of sleep it was time to see what America was really like or at least Hosmer Point Camp.  Vermont is such a beautiful state, at camp we were surrounded by trees, hills, animals and water. The only thing that is better at the camp sites I’ve been to in Australia, are the bathrooms.  The bathrooms were unisex, had semitransparent shower curtains and the toilet doors close on your knees!  I guess it could have been worse.  The first thing we did on waking was to sample our first American Summer Camp meal – these cooks should come here to our camps – truly some of the best food you could eat.  After we had our meal we headed to the waterfront to meet the counselors, and of course we had to jump in for a swim.

Summer Camp was full of new experiences for me.  Learning that peanut butter pie is so delicious (but my mums attempt at replicating it is not quite right), you shouldn’t mix choc chip pancakes with maple syrup, and apple pizza is a real treat.  The water front was heaps of fun; I actually stood up on the stand up paddle board, learnt how to row a boat, took a slide from the boat house roof, jumped on the water trampoline and off the jetty, and of course just went for a swim.

Ben and Jerry’s here we come!!  The sizing at this place is crazy, who would have thought that a large cone would hold like a litre of ice cream.  The ice cream here tastes amazing, I can’t wait to take my family to Ben and Jerry’s at Chaddy – I wonder how big a large here in Australia will be.  Going to Ben and Jerry’s was the first time we saw America outside of camp.  Not only was Hosmer Point beautiful but all that we saw of Vermont.  Like the movies, all the houses had an American flag flying and we also got to see a yellow school bus.
Last night at camp: a little sad to say goodbye, but also exciting as we got to have a little party and then head off to New York.  Fred took Jess and I down to the dock so that we could watch the sunset – why did he keep this beautiful place to himself for so long?!  Back at the party we all danced and sang, said our thanks, and Wynne and Ally sang us a beautiful song.  We headed off to bed – tomorrow we will fly!

My first day in New York was spent in bed watching friends and battling to get rid of my “man voice” – it must have really sounded strange, as Chris noticed. That night I felt a lot better so headed off to the soccer.  Go Red Bulls!  I loved shopping in Times Square until late – this place is insane!  Eating really unhealthy but delicious food, seeing Potted Potter on Broadway, taking a New York bus tour and seeing Central Park, seeing the Statue of Liberty, and all the busy streets.  Only in America would you find multi story shops dedicated to M&M’s, Hershey’s, Disney World and Toys R Us, Toys R Us even had a ferris wheel.
Time to spend four hours together sitting on a bus – will Boston be worth it?  The Sheraton is amazing although Jordy, Maddy and I had to wait to see our room as it was still being cleaned when we arrived.  The beds are to die for, the bathrooms luxurious – I think I will stay here rather than returning to New York.
After a long walk we arrive at Quinsy Market where (of course) we have to spend even more of our money!   We went to Jack’s favourite place, Fenway Park to see a Red Sox game.
Six flags! Took a bit of time to get there but it was such a good day. Myself and Hayden waited with the bags while everyone else went on a very scary ride and, while waiting for everyone to come back, Hayden thought he would be nice and introduce himself to a lady… as Jose.  I didn’t pick it up right away so I had to go along with it.  It was quite funny when we saw her later and she was yelling and waving ‘Hi Jose hi’ and  everyone is like “umm who’s Jose?”.
So I have decided that I will never trust Jess again!  We went to go on a ride and she told me it was not upside down, but as we got locked in I asked a guy next to us if it was and told me yes.  I looked at Jess as she laughed, but there was no going back. All I yelled was “I hate you Jess I hate you”, but I kind of liked it in the end.  The worst part would have been when I lost my shoe, so I thought I would go on some water rides, because who needs shoes for water rides right? Well they say you do, so as the man came over to tell me to put on my shoes I told him that I have one thong if he would like me to put that on?  I had two little kids next to me with their dad, everyone’s faces where priceless even mine.

We headed back to New York for the last night, we had a lovely last dinner together and then some of us did last minute shopping. That night we so much fun running around Times Square.  The cab guy played love music and Jess’s card got declined – she had spent it all, but I still have $300 left.  What did she buy? What didn’t I buy? Did I forget someone? Did I not buy something I needed or at least wanted? When we did get back to the hotel we thought maybe we should pack our bags and make sure our bags were not over weight, so I got some things of Jess’s and she got some of mine, we did a last walk around the hotel and Jess pushed a door into my nose… thanks!  I got up early and did one last shop had some food and then realised it was our last hour or two in New York so we had a bit of a glitter fight to end things off.  Then we had to say goodbye to Pete and get into the car, we got to the airport and waited for our flight. We tried to spend all the one cent pieces.  Who thought that it was a good idea to make one cent pieces – silly!
We were all happy, sad, tired and excited we are going home!! But we are leaving this beautiful new and excited place.
– Chiara Munzel

When Fred called me to come on this trip, I was overwhelmed –  I was so excited and I didn’t know what to expect.  The day came up so fast and we all arrived at the airport in the early hours of the morning – anxious and ready to head off on our big adventure.  Landing in LA was surreal, and I kept having to tell myself that I was actually in America.  I looked out the window and saw a fire down in the city.  The man who I was sitting next to on the flight was a local and I asked him, and I remember him saying “Welcome to LA, baby!”.  It did make me laugh a lot.
Arriving in Vermont, it was pitch black and lugging our very heavy suitcases (well maybe mine was just extremely heavy) into our new house for the next 7 days, I had never been so excited to see a bed in my whole life!  That day we slept until 2pm, and if someone hadn’t have woken me up I don’t think I would have ever gotten up – I now know what jet lag feels like!  Meeting people at camp, everyone was so friendly and bubbly and had awesome accents.  There were people from Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island, Connecticut and even Scotland.  Every day we did a new activity, from archery to canoeing to fishing to soccer and even arts and crafts – there was an activity for everyone.  My favourite time at camp was probably teaching all the American kids how to play Australian rules football.  They were all so eager to give it a go, and most had never heard or seen the game being played before.  We ended up having a huge game of football, and all the kids and counsellors had a blast.  The last night at camp was incredible and one I will definitely never forget.  All the counsellors and their friends headed out to the drama space, which was like a huge barn with a stage in it, and we had a party to say goodbye to everyone and celebrate the summer, as it was last day of camp for the summer.  The whole camp was one experience I will never forget, and hopefully be able to be a part of as a counsellor one day.
Saying goodbye to camp was the next step, we got driven to the airport and headed off to the Big Apple.  I definitely didn’t know what to expect as everyone in Vermont said that we were going from complete different states – from quiet country town to one of the world’s busiest cities.  NYC was definitely my favourite place from the trip.  Just arriving in the taxi was an eye opener – seeing huge buildings, billboards and lights covering the city.  Shopping, shopping and more shopping was all I wanted to do, any shop I saw with a cute pair of heels or a dress I just wanted to run into and buy everything!  I think I spend more than half of my money here.  The double decker bus tours were so much fun, and seeing the sights like the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Centre location, Central Park and remaining artefacts.  I am so glad on one of the last nights in NYC I went to Cirque Du Soleil, and it was incredible, especially seeing it in NYC.
Boston was next, and the shopping here was also amazing!   But my favourite part would have to have been the baseball, even though the Red Sox lost, the atmosphere was insane and I loved every minute of it.
All in all, the trip was great and an experience that I’ll never forget.  Thanks to everyone who made it one to remember.
– Jess Callaway

Waking up at 1.30 in the morning, we chucked our bags in the truck and headed for Melbourne airport. Once we got there it was a long wait, waiting for all the parents to drop off their kids, checking in and boarding the plane. We made two stops on the way to Vermont, one in Sydney, and one in LA. When we arrived in Vermont it was early morning and we were greeted by a man named John, he ran the summer camp that we were going to.
When we got there it was already starting to get light, so we headed to our cabins and went straight to bed. We woke up the next day at 2 in the afternoon, so we quickly got dressed and headed to what I guess you could call the mess hall for some breakfast. We were given a tour of the place, a rundown on what our chores would be for that week and then we headed down to the lake for a swim.
The rest of the week was filled with fun, from arts and crafts, teaching those Americans how to play football, lots of sports, swimming, and looking after the animals on the farm.
On about our third day there, we went on a trip to go see the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. Ally, one of the summer camp staff took us there. Once we got there we all got an ice cream, and sat down on the grass in front of the factory to eat it –  they had some really wacky flavours! We made some stops at other land marks along the way, but overall, Ben and Jerry’s was the best.

The rest of the week was really fun, making arrows, more swimming, more sport, lots of archery and just chillin and hanging around.
The last day would have to be one of the most memorable – it was the end of the week at summer camp and we were all a bit tired. We played this weird game (I have no idea what it was called), but there was three teams, one who got chased, one who got chased but could tag the first team, and one who just tagged people. It was a bit like a bit wacked up game of tiggy. There was also BBQ and swimming, but best of all, there was a Sasquatch hunt. We all gathered at the theatre and we were told about sasquatches. Apparently you had to make this weird sound and that would attract the sasquatches in the surrounding area. Anyway, they got us all to make a sound and all of a sudden here come all these sasquatches out of the bush! It was a long and furious chase, and I remember Jordy found one of them and started chasing it, and then it turned around and started chasing him! Oh gosh I will never forget the shriek he made and that look on his face, it was priceless! Anyway, the hunt ended with some of the kids chasing one of the sasquatches up a pole, and then we found out that the sasquatches were just the staff – oh well, it was still fun!
That night there was a farewell dance to say goodbye to all the staff and us because well, we would be leaving on a jet plane the next day. It was a fun night with lots of dancing and singing – I will never forget it.
The next morning we got up early, packed up our things and headed to the airport to go to New York.
New York was massive. There were cars everywhere! Were so lucky we didn’t end up getting caught up in one of their traffic jams, that would have been hectic.
When we got up the next day we visited Times Square. It was amazing. There were big lights everywhere, and people dressed up as Disney characters. The crowds were so big and there were so many shops! It was a shopper’s heaven!  We went to Applebee’s for lunch and after that we went to the M&M Factory. It was huge, and the smell was just so mouth-watering.
We spent the rest of the week going to all different stores, factories and restaurants.  On one of our last days there we went to a soccer game at the red bull stadium, that was intense. Whenever the red bull soccer team got a point, these big lights would go off and these loud dance music and the fans would wave these massive signs around.
After our week in New York we went to Boston. It was a four hour bus ride there, but really, it was worth it, because when we finally arrived there was this massive hotel waiting for us with big comfy beds and free Wi-Fi… oh the free Wi-Fi! It had a pool with a sauna, a gym and a Starbucks, it was amazing. We went to the cheese cake factory that night for dinner, and when we got back we spent a good hour in the pool.
We spent the next day in Boston taking a look around the city, going shopping and getting lunch. Later in the afternoon we went to see a Red Sox baseball game, it was really fun.  There were those guys walking up and down the aisles shouting stuff like “peanuts! Get your peanuts!” Or hot dogs, really, there was everything. We got home from the game late, exhausted from our eventful day, and we got a chance to talk to our family’s using the free Wi-Fi. After that we went straight to bed, knowing in the morning we would be going to six flags, an amusement / water park.

Six flags was lots of fun, it was really busy though, so we had to wait about two hours for every ride. They had this crazy shoe policy, which was kind of unfortunate when one of us lost one our shoes.  Other than that it was heaps of fun, we had lunch there and then headed back and had dinner at the cheesecake factory again.The next day we had to leave to go back to New York. If I had it my way I would have stayed in Boston forever, it was an amazing city.
We were only going to be in New York for a couple of days before we had to leave, so we saw a couple of Broadway shows went to central park and did some more shopping.
It was a 16 hour flight back home, and we were all really tired. It was sad to be leaving America but it was good to be coming back home to our families in Australia.
I learnt a few things over there: Jet lag is evil, America is super super cheap, never wear a Yankees baseball cap in Boston, New Yorkers are really friendly, never get lost in New York, it’s good to have friends in a place that is new to you, patience is important, and over all, everything becomes interesting as long as you’re having fun.
– Maddy Clarke

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