Summer Camp Recommendations

Fergal.Staples1
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Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 9:00 pm

Summer Camp Recommendations

Postby Fergal.Staples1 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:40 pm

Hey guys

So I'm looking to do a j1 this summer either in the US or Canada. Any of ye have any recommendations for a good camp to get in contact with? Would like one that may have the possibility of getting some decent whitewater in. Also, does anyone have any tips on any alternatives to a summer camp?

Cheers!

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DiarmuidM
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Re: Summer Camp Recommendations

Postby DiarmuidM » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:09 pm

Don't do what I did and go with the first camp that looks your way. Kayaking is a really valuable skill to them so you should be getting a few offers. If I did it again, I'd look for information about the area and what rivers you can run and how accessible they are. Places like Tennessee and that kind of area are good because there's rivers everywhere, or the PNW which is bigger and scarier. Maine is ok but basically the whole state is wilderness so getting to the rivers is pretty tough. It's a great experience working in a camp, but it's hard work being on the clock the whole time with very little down time. Other jobs tend to pay better but with kayaking you're basically guaranteed something at a camp.
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l.whelan11
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Re: Summer Camp Recommendations

Postby l.whelan11 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:05 pm

You mentioned alternatives, so I guess I can recommend Slovenia. While I probably would have gone for Canada or the US if I had planned it earlier, I can say that I was very happy with how it turned out in the end. Not having to get a visa etc. meant I could organise it fairly last minute.

Here's a bit of a breakdown of everything:

Accommodation
  • For the first two weeks, I stayed at a campsite for €5 per day. After that, I moved to camp in the garden just behind the base (where I worked) which was free. I did that for three weeks. For the remaining seven weeks, I lived in an apartment with the other guides for €6 per day. So that was pretty cheap.
  • If you can avoid camping it's probably better, the camping itself was grand but flying with all the camping gear (on top of all the other gear you need) and not being able to make dinner that easily was kind of annoying. It was also just more craic living in the house.
  • All three places that I lived at were at most 5-7 minutes' walk to work.

Work
  • I enjoyed the work for the most part. I mostly did kayak trips on grade 1-2 water. Next most common was canyoning. And I also did some rafting. Each activity has its own pros and cons.
  • Kayaking is pretty easy but some of the guides think it's boring (lower grade of water than rafting), I liked it most because I felt more comfortable teaching something I actually knew...
  • Canyoning was cool because I never did it before and it was actually decent fun, especially in the first few weeks. There is a 30 minute hike to the start though which some guides found annoying but I do think it was good for my fitness.
  • Rafting was also not too bad, although there was more of a knack to it than I thought there would be. Getting stuck on the rocks is a real pain and fairly embarrassing.
  • In general, it's nice to work in the sun outdoors, you get to try new sports and have the craic with the other guides. The customers are usually sound and just want to have a bit of fun.
  • Downsides would be the occasional annoying customers and the odd bit of grumpiness during the high season (trips can run overtime -> late lunch -> guides are hungry + tired from long work days = grumpy atmosphere).
  • It's also a bit repetitive at times, doing the same trips over and over again (but this is probably the case at any camp to be fair), however switching regularly between the three activities on offer made this a lot better.
  • You don't get weekends off, but you do get days off if you're not needed in work.
  • Part of the job also includes managing the gear (i.e. washing, hanging out to dry etc) and possibly driving the guides and clients to the river/canyon.

Kayaking outside of work
  • After work I would often go paddling with some of the other guides. There are quite a few sections on the river which was nice for a bit of variety. Depending on the levels, some parts will be better than others.
  • If you want to push yourself, there are some pretty serious sections from the slalom section (grade 4), through the Cataracts (grade 4+ moves with grade 5 consequences), down to Otona (grade 4 at the start and then grade 3).
  • The best paddling I had was when it would rain heavily, which happened every two/three weeks or so, then you could get a nice bit of grade 4. Otherwise you can paddle the grade 3 raft section (which you will get bored of though).
  • You also need a driver who is willing to go kayaking after work (wasn't really a problem, just make it known that you're keen to kayak and exchange numbers/Facebook details with people).
  • September was the most fun, because there was loads of rain and less work. Obviously this is not really an option for people in college, but worth noting anyway.
  • We also got to go to Austria twice for paddling, there were some really sweet rivers there too.
  • I flew my creeker with me, which was quite a pain getting through the airports/trains/taxis. It is doable, but if you can somehow drive over there it would be much easier. There is no direct flight to Slovenia unfortunately.

General
  • I should point out that things are probably pretty different from year to year. However, the people, the river and the country are pretty cool and definitely worth spending a summer there in my opinion.
  • You can probably expect to take €1-2k home with you, after living comfortably there for three months, which is not too bad.
  • There is a small bar there which is a bit of craic on occasion. There was a raft race and a few other events that provide a good day of fun and a decent after party.
  • It's good if you have a kayak instructorship. After a few trips with another guide, you can lead on your own. For canyoning and rafting I was always with another guide (you still get paid but you're not first choice).
  • Hope this post wasn't too long...I wanted to write all this up at some stage anyway, so cheers for the encouragement! It seems that no one else in the club has done Slovenia like this in recent years so I thought it might be handy to document it for future reference.
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