The Lost Visa Tragedy – Orientation Week, Camp America 2018

Written by Channon Gray

Orientation Week is drawing to an end here at French Woods Festival of Performing Arts summer camp in New York.

Now I’ll be honest, I will never be able to fully explain what a week it’s been; but for now, all I say is that it has been an emotional rollercoaster.

It’s overwhelming, nerve-racking and exciting all at once.

Heathrow to Newark (31.05.18)

My journey to this point has been eventful to say the absolute least. The drama started in Heathrow Aiport with my missing/lost visa certificate. The solution being that I enter the states without it. As you can imagine this wasn’t ideal and I was subject to secondary checks in Newark Airport on the flipside at what was gone 1am in London.

As a Camp America sponsored visitor, they were incredibly helpful to me throughout the terrifying experience of potentially being interrogated for my absent visa certificate.

Our flight was late taking off due to thunder and lightning storms just to add to injury. Afternoon Tea on the plane was a bonus, job good Virgin Atlantic.

Anyway, we made it to the Camp America Hotel, The Fairfield Crowne Plaza, all in one piece. Although, our bus journey there was filled with mainly Vine references (French Avocado being one) as well as completely freaking out over seeing Target, Chipolte and Wendy’s; the usual ‘Brit Aboard’ behaviour.

The Crowne Plaza (31.05.18-01.06.18)

Brianna, Johanna and myself enjoyed our first American breakfast of bagels and sausage patty! Delicious, well sort of. I prefer pancakes and strawberries but y’know, I’ll take it as it’s food.

Onto Camp…

The two hour bus ride to camp was warm. New York on Friday June 1st hit 30+ degrees and the bus was just as sweaty. We kept ourselves entertained by making up a quiz and just getting to know each other. What’s super strange about this place is how quickly people become your best friends. It’s like you’ve known them years not days.

Destination: French Woods Festival of Performing Arts Summer Camp, New York

French Woods is in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, amongst the mountains and in a place where 4G/Signal is absolutely not a thing. It is cut off and secluded from the outside world; which whilst is nice, it makes my job as social media influencer increasingly tricky to maintain so bear with me.


My first impression of camp, as we were greeted off the bus with singing, cheering, clapping and plenty of hugs was “what have I let myself in for...”!

Don’t get me wrong, this place is fabulous. It’s over the top and very Camp Rock meets Glee. But the reserved British culture and way of being doesn’t hold up long here. Within a few days you find yourself dancing on tables to Hairspray, waking up to the Greatest Showman as your alarm clock noise and being the class clown, at every opportunity. It’s different but fun and the kids are yet to even arrive.

Living Arrangements

Our bunks are basic, the shower curtain is too small and I said basically goodbye to toilet doors almost a week ago. I’ve made friends with a few spiders, accidently stepped on a bee and I’m so over the mice that roam free in our sleeping area. It’s normal, it’s camp life and there is nothing you can do about it.

My bunk mates are the best and I hope they think the same in return; after all, we have got each other for the next three months!

My Job Role

I am a Fine Art Counsellor (Teacher) and am running classes on Journaling (including Book Making and Scrapbooking) and assisting within silkscreen, a completely new skill to me. Although, I’ve got one aim for this summer and that is to leave camp with a tie-dyed t-shirt at the very least.

Day Off, Day 1

Our first day off on June 5th involved a Wal-Mart run on a yellow school bus, TGI Fridays, Starbucks and my first Pepsi Max in too many days (that was my highlight, it’s the small things you know)! I bought all the essentials: fairy lights, a ‘comforter’ (America’s answer to a duvet) and Swedish Fish sweets, *cough, cough*, priorities.

That’s about it for my thoughts on Orientation Week. It has involved a lot of serious lectures; as well as copious amounts of food and socialising with fellow Counsellors from around the world.

For incase you didn’t know, I’m a Camp America Storyteller and it would really help if you checked on my page on their website by clicking here.

Stop by again soon,

About the author

Channon Gray

I'm Channon and yes, it's spelt wrong, but that is interesting right? I'm 23 years young. I like to write, create art and travel. Cornish bumpkin who studied in London then Cambridge. I'm now a Postgraduate Student, Stationery Addict and all-round Life Enthusiast.

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[…] my most recent Day Off from Camp, I went on an organised trip to Niagara Falls. We arrived around 12pm and left at 8:30pm which gave […]

Sophie Mullender

Incredible blog Channon – the photos are amazing! Can’t wait to read more!

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