The past two summers I have spent at Heart O’ the Hills and it has been absolutely incredible. Coming to an American summer camp as an international counselor, I had no idea what to expect from this experience.
Will it be like The Parent Trap?
When you arrive at HOH, the two weeks of orientation kick off in introducing and practicing a day in the life of camp. It’s always very exciting; once those big red gates open and all the kids arrive, you realize what an amazing place you have come to.
So what is a day in the life of a Heart staff member really like?
Each day is different and full of fun and laughter. The wake-up bugle goes off at 7:35 and your day begins. Different age divisions react differently to the wake-up bugle. The younger age divisions are sometimes up before the bugle even goes off, they get up and have set routine to get them ready smoothly. So, for the counselor who has been given that division, their role would be guiding the girls and helping them be out on time.
The older divisions may lie in a little longer and have a mad rush to be out before flag raising. Then comes the flag bugle and everyone goes down to outside the Lodge and lines up at their table hearts waiting to be called to flag from a head staff member. After pledging allegiance (foreigners standing by respectfully), we head on up to breakfast.
At The Heart we eat family style, so there will be two counselors at each table. The counselors’ job at the table for all meals is to serve the food, interact with campers, and ensure everyone is eating just right, tasting their three bites!
The first activity of the day begins at 9 a.m. Everyone on camp has a different schedule, each period lasting 50 minutes. WSI’s spend their whole day down at the waterfront, horseback counselors up at the stables, and everyone else can be doing a mixture (from arts and crafts to riflery). There are four activity periods back to back and then there’s powwow.
Powwow is when each age division comes together as a group. They discuss the thought o’ the day, younger age groups do roses and thorns (good and bad things about their day), and they have a general chat and use some of the time to create their pizza cheers.
Then it’s straight onto lunch that leads straight into siesta. You will be in your cabin with the girls, spending some time chilling together (great chance to have a nap!). If you have a siesta off, you have time to do laundry and relax alone.
Snack follows straight after siesta, then onto the last two activity periods of the day. So that’s six classes total! After sixth period sometimes there is an hour’s break, other times we have swim meets and gymkhanas! At 7 p.m. we have our evening flag lowering, at which counselors can give announcements about events of the day and specific things the girls have achieved in their lessons. This leads straight to dinner.
Evening activities follow and can vary from tribe hills to tepee nights. Counselors also get a couple of evenings off a week, so you have time to head into Kerrville – go for a nice dinner, maybe catch a movie or if it’s a Saturday, head to Crider’s!
Taps sounds at 10:15, which means bedtime. Each day at The Heart really is so different from the other – it is the most fantastic experience I have ever done. Certainly the best job I will ever have. I cannot wait to return again for my third summer next year!!