Advice from a summer camp cousellor

Letter 90

This time last year I had just booked my flight to America. My place at camp was confirmed, visa in the bag and I was eager to set off. Now I want to share a load of advice that I learned from a summer at camp. So if you’re off to camp, or you’re just interested in some tips and anecdotes, please read on. This is all based on my experience – your camp might be different but I’ll try to give varied advice!

I wrote a post about the details of my camp job and how much it cost to get out to the states which you may read here.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

BUY A BACKPACK

Backpacks far surpass suitcases in my opinion. After camp you’re likely to be travelling and will want a backpack for ease of use. At my camp we also had to move rooms pretty much every week which meant packing everything up in the backpack and transporting it between cabins. If you’re lucky and don’t have to do this, it can actually be a good habit to get into. Each week go through your stuff and clear out rubbish, old clothes, discover dirty things down the side of the drawers and make sure you still have all of your stuff.

backpack osprey farpoint 55

I used this Osprey Farpoint 55L and love it!!

PACK LIGHT

You won’t do this, but I’ll tell you anyway. At camp you are most likely going to be wearing the generic tops with the logo on. Every day. So you don’t need a wardrobe of beautiful t-shirts with you. You are also probably going to be shopping in the states, which is very cheap, so leave space in your suitcase for bringing stuff home! I have a couple of posts showing everything I packed:

Travel essentials!  |  Travel essentials: clothing

But here are the basics:

  • A couple of pairs of DURABLE shorts – not those bum-cheek grazers that are highly inappropriate for working with children. Or other humans for that matter.
  • A few basic t-shirts to get you going and to use at weekends. Maybe something nice to wear out, you may have the chance to go somewhere nice.
  • PLENTY of underwear as washing can be few and far between and when you’re running between canoeing, pool time, football and rain storms, you may need more than one per day.
  • Same for socks, your feet will get destroyed.
  • Very comfy shoes for wearing all day every day – trainers seem to do the job well.
  • A fleece and waterproof, depending on where you are in America, because it can rain, a lot.
  • Modest pyjamas – if your camp is like mine, you might have to sleep in with the kids so you’ll want some decent PJs. Even if you don’t have to stay with kids, you might be wondering around camp before bed.
P1010454

The clothes I took to camp

MEMORIES FROM HOME

Take photos, postcards, music, flags, food, and even traditional clothes if you have them. It’s great to surround yourself with memories from familiar home, but that’s not the main reason to do this. The kids find it fascinating learning about you and being able to show them things from home is great. I would show my kids photos of my family and friends or where I live and tell them stories. They LOVE it. I worked at a camp with children and adults with disabilities, and one week I was the supporter for a 25 year old girl who was non-verbal. She couldn’t talk to me and for a day or so I found it difficult to communicate with her. I started showing her photos when she seemed bored and she loved listening to my stories. I told her about everyone in my life. She smiled and nodded along and I knew she could understand what I was telling her, she just couldn’t reply. So take lots of memories to share.

BUG SPRAY IS IMPORTANT

Yes, there are a lot of bugs in America. Yes, you need bug spray. Sometimes the camp provides this for using on the kids (and yourself) but take some just in case. It’s super important when you’re trekking through the wilderness all the time.

MAGICAL DAYPACK

The magical daypack solves everything. Before you leave, set this up so that it’s ready straight away when you start your job. Trust me, this is a life saver.

You’ll need:

  • A backpack you don’t particularly mind getting dirty.
  • Durable water bottle (large).
  • Pen/paper, for when the kids get bored and you need a quick game or when you have to keep track of things you need to do.
  • Watch, you’ll need the time to be on time to activities.
  • Sun cream – obvious?
  • Wet wipes – potentially THE most important item. They fix everything: muddy child, food fight, touching bugs, seeing the horses, tears… etc etc.
  • Phone (if you’re allowed) to take lots of photos, entertain your kids, PLAY MUSIC – again a magic trick for solving boredom, and to get in contact with people for emergencies.
  • Sun hat to stay protected from that midday sun and set a good example for your kids.
  • BUG SPRAY.

 

WHILST YOU’RE AT CAMP

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

At our camp, there was one phrase that was drilled into each and every counsellor. ‘Fake it till you make it’. We all lived by it, and secretly, I still do. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, worn out, missing home, sad or feeling lonely. Whilst you’re at camp you are the most important person in the world to your kids and you have to fake it. Smile through any pain and make everyone believe that you are the happiest person in the world. Most often, it’ll make you feel better too. Smile and your kids will smile and that’s the most important thing. Another counsellor and I had a girl one week who was probably one of the most annoying kids I’ve ever met. We felt miserable for the first couple of days and that in turn made her more annoying. We realised that we just had to fake it. We turned into the bubbliest counsellors you’ve ever seen. She ended up having so much fun with ‘the happiest counsellors at camp’ that she wasn’t even that annoying for the rest of the week. Happy counsellor = happy camper = happy counsellor.

happy cousellor happy camper

Happy counsellor, happy camper

OVER THE TOP IS NORMAL

Lose whatever inhibitions you have because at camp, you are a whole new person. This point follows on from the last one. If you have to sing Disney songs at the top of your voice to make a camper happy, do it. If you have to dance to get your group to keep up and move from one activity to the next, do it. If you have to put on a funny voice to get someone to eat their vegetables, do it! You become an actor, an entertainer and a best friend and you’ll enjoy it far more if you throw every cell of your being into your job. It’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had!

IMPROVE YOUR SINGING VOICE

I’m kidding. Don’t improve it. It’ll be far funnier if your rubbish. Think it’s a myth that Americans recite the pledgeof allegiance every morning? It’s not. (And by the end of camp you’ll love it). And all of those cheesy camp songs you’ve seen on films? They’re all real, and you’ll sing them all. It’s great fun so embrace the singer inside of you, whether you’re good or not.

flagpole

Daily flagpole with the anthem 

CAPTURE ALL OF THE MEMORIES

One of my favourite things to do is go through my photos from camp. I love seeing all of the smiling faces and the things they all got up to. I enjoy watching the singing videos I made with my campers in the cabins. Most importantly, I take a huge amount of happiness from the letters, notes and cards that campers and counsellors gave me. Keep everything you want to remember and capture moments you can’t forget. (At my camp we were allowed to take photos, obviously check the policy on this at yours – I hope you can because camp photos are the best photos.) See some of my favourite memories here…

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Camp is loads of fun, like I’ve said, but it can get hard. Sometimes things happen that shock you, upset you or hurt you. Just know that it’s okay, you’ve done your best, and you’ll soon feel better. In the moment, you just have to slap a smile on and carry on. It’ll all be fine in the end.

PICK YOUR BATTLES

I strongly believe that as a counsellor, you have a responsibility to be a role model and respected leader. Your kids should learn right and wrong from you. You should encourage manners, sharing and patience, all things kids struggle with. However, sometimes those life lessons can wait. Choose carefully when it’s worth picking up on something with your kids. Sometimes an easy life is preferred but if you are going to pick them up on something, maybe sweeten the deal after. A negative should always be followed with a positive.

TREAT YOURSELF

Camp food is at best, edible. (My camp food was actually pretty good, but I want be dramatic for this point). You may be inclined to stock up on snacks and goodies to nibble on when you’re starving at 9pm having skipped the majority of dinner. However, be careful because it’s quite common to put on weight at camp. Buy yourself a big bag of grapes or something, instead of a kilogram bag of skittles (ah Walmart how I miss you). I wish I had taken on that advice, but alas, walmart drove me to consume many a bar of Hershey’s cookies and cream, which I dearly miss.

 

IMPORTANT STUFF

DON’T PLAN YOUR TRAVEL AFTER

You will meet other counsellors who you’ll want to travel with, hear stories about places you hadn’t considered and need to be flexible about your time after working. You are allowed up to 30 days travel time after working at camp and I would suggest using at least half of this. Book a flight back from either somewhere you are desperate to go to or from a big city popular airport. For example, my camp was in Maryland, near DC, but I booked my flight back from New York. So did most people. If you’re camp is in California, don’t book a flight back from NYC because it’s thousands of miles away, but maybe LA would be a good shout. Be flexible if you can!

TAKE SUFFICIENT FUNDS

A number of factors can affect how much money you have at various times in the summer. You may not get paid straight away and need some money to tide you over for the first couple of weeks. If you’re camp is well connected to towns or cities, you may have the chance to go out at weekends, which can cost you. Make sure you take a decent amount of money with you so that you can cover this. In addition, be smart with your wages and make sure you don’t leave yourself struggling for cash at the end of the summer when you want to be enjoying yourself travelling.

ENJOY EVERY SECOND

Camp will be an amazing experience. You’ll fall in love with the kids and cry when they leave. You’ll make friends for life and promise to keep in contact. You’ll surprise yourself and feel proud of your achievements. You’ll also probably get injured or ill and miss home. You might have people be rude to you and you’ll feel bad. You might get so tired and worn out that you can barely stand up. But trust me, you’ll miss it when you’re home, so enjoy it whilst you’re there.

That’s it from me, I hope this has been useful or at the very least entertaining. Camp was the best experience of my life so far and I cannot wait to go back, hopefully in a couple of years. Barely a day goes by where I don’t think about that wonderful place, the friends I made there or the kids who I absolutely loved. Good luck to those of you heading off to camp this summer!!

camp at night

Favourite place

From Lou (Camp Counsellor 2016)

About Me

PS. Here are links to all of the letters I wrote about summer camp – I love looking back on them so I hope you enjoy them. x

“Don’t make purple”  |  My hectic life, my suffering blog  |  I’ve realised I’m a vegetarian  |  Horse sense  |  Summer of a lifetime  |  After work comes play!  |  3,176 photos later

What a year

Letter 50

2016 has been a good, hard, tiring, wonderful year and in 10 days I will fondly look back on it, and happily step into 2017.

This year has probably been one of the hardest of my life as it began with the death of a close family member. I won’t go into personal details, but I honestly thought my world had shattered and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever recover. I did. Possibly not completely, and I know it will always hurt, but I have moved on. You have to. I haven’t let it ruin my year and instead have accomplished my goals in memory of someone who is incredibly important to me. If anything, I think I have accomplished even more because of this. I have also learnt to appreciate my friends and family every single day because life is short.

After getting that out of the way, the rest of the year bought some amazing things my way and I have achieved more that I could every have imagined. I started a blog! This is something I had wanted to do for a few years. I only started travelling solo in 2015 and I wanted a way to document my trips. I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs and wanted to create one myself. Although I may have let it go whilst at university this year, I am really proud of it. When I was actually travelling this year I was able to keep up with my writing and I love looking back at these letters! I have a lot of plans for the blog and I only hope I can get some good stories up on the website for everyone to read.

I visited America! First time in the states and it shattered and exceeded my expectations. I loved the country and I can’t wait to go back and discover more fantastic cities and spend more time in the contrasting landscapes. I did my first overnight bus, saw wild whales in the ocean, visited Harvard University and saw New York from the 86th floor. What a trip!

On top of the world | A day in Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary | We crashed Harvard’s welcome ceremony…

I found a new passion. Working with children and adults with disabilities. My summer at camp was one of the scariest things I have ever done but I completely loved it. I also realised I am quite good at it and I can’t wait to return in the future to visit the kids and enjoy many more summers in Maryland. It just shows that doing something completely alien to you can really pay off. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Summer of a lifetime

I feel I’ve become a real Scottish citizen (no one else feels this, but that’s not important). I made my first, of many I hope, visit to the highlands. This happens to be the home of my boyfriend and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. On the subject, we hit our year anniversary back in September and I can honestly say I have never been happier. I also tried haggis finally! It’s not so bad. I even went to a ceilidh which was so so fun, and I need to do it more!

The best places have no wifi

A lot of these things are small, but my life has changed a lot this year. I am grateful for 2016 but cannot wait to begin 2017. I want to make it an amazing year, exploring more places and spending quality time with my friends and family.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and prosperous new year. Best wishes to every single person who reads this.

So much love!

From Lou

About Me

3,176 photos later

Letter 48

From a whole summer of photos I would like to share some of my favourites along with a word or two that describes them. Enjoy my photo essay.

20160813_185937

Friends

20160817_133406

Favourites

dsc06754

Happy

dsc06790

Timeline…

p1010773

Fall

received_10208702396948789

Squad

P1010601

Maryland

P1010703

Chasing Domes

14037943_1101343279953249_837658832_o

Smiles

20160809_114555

Accomplishment

14163831_1112261398861437_56246950_o

Home

14089084_10208568948316098_4017485594093595564_n

Family

P1020034

Jungle

14159128_1185845008134116_281734902_n

Squirrel Selfie

P1020136

Golden

P1020292

Magic

P1020262

Relax

P1020410

Turtle!

P1020505

6am

14203503_1116125681808342_115602177_o (1)

Elegance

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

TRY.

P1030195

Bye B.

P1030501

Honey I shrunk…

p1030731

Japanese

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Skylines

p1040191

Iron

p1040272

Remember

p1040274

ONE

p1040326

Tinsel

p1040441

Behind bars

p1040496

Serene

p1040540

Love

p1040593

Buzz

p1040801

Glorious.

I hope you enjoyed my photos; I certainly enjoyed my summer.

From Lou

PS. Here’s one more chance to check out the my letters from the whole summer… (alternatively click on North America > USA at the top of the page for the whole lot!)

Travel:

Love on the Brooklyn Bridge | The city that never sleeps | Don’t judge a book until you’ve met the characters. | He steered the boat with his foot?! | A day in Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary | Here comes the sun | We crashed Harvard’s welcome ceremony… | Boston has the friendliest squirrels | Our host took us to a cookout! | After work comes play!

Camp:

Summer of a lifetime | Horse sense | A slice of heaven in the city | Wave to the President! | I’ve realised I’m a vegetarian | I could live here | My hectic life, my suffering blog | “Don’t make purple” | A letter from 30,000ft

On top of the world

Letter 47

The crazy taxi driver sped through New York, leaving the skyscrapers behind to a backdrop of the late afternoon sun. I wanted to drink in every last bit of New York and etch this spellbinding city on my mind. Instead I spent the journey clinging to my seat for dear life and wishing the driver would put his seat belt on and tablet down. New York drivers are bonkers.

I left New York on the 9th of September, but only after another full day exploring the city and cramming in as much as possible before I reluctantly boarded my Aer Lingus flight heading east. I began the day on the metro, disembarking at Times Square which was preparing for the day ahead. I headed over to the Hudson at 42nd street where I was to pick up my cruise. One of the things I really wanted to do in New York was a boat trip. This one was a 3 hour long ride around Manhatten passing the islands, the bridges, the skyscrapers and the water stretching away for miles. It was good, but like many other trips in the city, they cram you on like sardines and I actually realised I would’ve preferred a shorter trip. Plus I had already seen a lot of it from my trip to see the statue a couple of days earlier. Either way, it was still fun and offered fabulous views.

I jumper off the boat (not literally, mind) at 1 and was famished. I sat down for lunch on a forgotten bench of western Manhatten and watched the city roll by. It’s strange that for a few days I was a part of New York. I then headed to the attraction that was high on my list of things to do. I was told really great things about it, and now I will pass those good things on to you. Top of the Rock is the observation deck soaring 70m above New York’s hectic streets. It’s located on 50th street at the top of the Rockefeller Centre which shamefully I did not explore at all. The views from here far surpass those of the Empire State, in my opinion. Mainly because you can actually see the Empire State, one of the greatest buildings in New York. Why would you not want it in your panorama? It’s also a few streets more north and therefore closer to Central Park so you get a better view of it. But the greatest thing? It’s not completely packed. I can only speak for the time I went, which was at about 2pm on a Friday, but I could move, relax, take in the views quietly or take a photo without feeling like I was in someones way. The observation areas are spread over 3 levels which helps immensely with crowd control and gives you tonnes of different angles. I can’t speak highly enough about Top of the Rock, so if you splash out on only one attraction – make it this. It’s $32 and worth every cent.

That for me was the perfect way to round off New York. I then wandered back to the station through Rockefeller Plaza (something I wish I’d discovered sooner!) and down the parallel streets of the urban jungle.

p1040508

Visiting New York was an amazing experience and something I will never forget and will one day repeat. It really is a one of a kind and the perfect way to end my perfect summer.

From Lou

PS. That’s it for my daily accounts and stories from my summer in the States. Check out some of my other posts below if you wish. Any questions please comment! I love comments! Much love x

Travel:

Love on the Brooklyn Bridge | The city that never sleeps | Don’t judge a book until you’ve met the characters. | He steered the boat with his foot?! | A day in Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary | Here comes the sun | We crashed Harvard’s welcome ceremony… | Boston has the friendliest squirrels | Our host took us to a cookout! | After work comes play!

Camp:

Summer of a lifetime | Horse sense | A slice of heaven in the city | Wave to the President! | I’ve realised I’m a vegetarian | I could live here | My hectic life, my suffering blog | “Don’t make purple” | A letter from 30,000ft

Love on the Brooklyn Bridge

Letter 46

Walking somewhat aimlessly and exploring is the best way to see New York. I began to see this on my second day in the city when after trying and failing to get the most out of my expensive New York pass and fitting in a tonne of attractions, I ended up just walking. And I loved every second of it.

I began the day by wandering out of my hostel and headed towards the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine around the corner. I did this mainly because it was at a stop where I could pick up the Big Bus. I didn’t realise quite how wonderful the building would be and I actually spent a while looking around it and sat peacefully on the steps outside gawking at the facade in the sun. I have a few photos but my poor camera struggles with inside shots so try and see past the quality.

When I eventually boarded the bus we sat off on a route that essentially went around the northern part of Central Park. We went down a section of the Hudson and I (once again) heard tales of Sully’s landing. I could feel I could write a book about it. We then rode through Harlem – a fascinating area which I wish I could explore more! Lastly, we headed down the east side of the park, down Museum Road (5th Avenue) where I got my first glimpse of the Guiggenheim. That was another thing I had really wanted to do but didn’t have time in the end. Next time. I got off the bus at the south-eastern corner of Central Park with a mission to rent a bike.

My pass allowed either a 2 hour bike tour or a 4 hour rental in Central Park. I didn’t make it in time for the tour so I went for the rental. I discovered it takes twice as long as you think to go anywhere or do anything in New York. So I spent about 3 hours exploring the vast park from the saddle and thoroughly enjoyed it. In my opinion, you need a bike to get very far in Central Park. It is absolutely huge and full of hidden gems. I still only saw about 10%. Again, I’ll do more next time.

My next destination in mind was Brooklyn. I hopped on the Big Bus at Times Square to get down south to the Bridge. That bus takes a lifetime because of traffic but the stuff I learnt about my surroundings made it worth it. I wouldn’t do it next time though. I was considering renting a bike again to get across the bridge and explore Brooklyn but when I got there I just fancied walking. The bridge was incredibly busy – it was 3pm though so I don’t know what I expected. The views from it are something else. It’s essentially a 360 degree observation bridge. You can see Manhatten behind you to both left and right, Brooklyn in front of you and the islands in the near distance in the river. This includes a hazy Statue of Liberty. Although the scenery was amazing, I spent more time enjoying the people. The one good thing about a place teaming with people is that it makes for great people watching. I heard tourists enjoying the beauty of the area and locals busying themselves getting from A to B. I saw travellers taking quintessential tourist selfies to post on social media no doubt. I saw people taking a rest break halfway, mustering up the energy to walk to the other side in the midday heat, or perhaps giving in and planning to turn back to the Manhatten skyscrapers of the financial district.

The most exciting thing I saw? Love. I’m not a soppy person, but this was something out of a novel. I saw a young couple on their wedding day having their photos taken on the bridge. I really thought it was romantic and I loved observing 2 people so content in that moment. A few other people stopped to take photos of them as well and I felt so lucky to have passed the bridge at that very moment. Their main photo was of her running up to him, and a beautifully staged kiss at the moment they collided. That was lovely. But I then took another photo of them glancing at the photo they just took and this was the most moving moment. He gently placed his hand on her back as they smiled at their photo.

When I reached Brooklyn I didn’t have an agenda. Or a map. So I walked around a bit. I found it charming and dead quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Manhatten.

The metro took me from the Brooklyn shopping street to Times Square and I decided to complete my day in one of the biggest attractions in New York. The Empire State Building is on the most recognisable buildings in the city, and the world. At nighttime it lights up the skyline and at this time I went right to the top to see the rest of the city lighting up below me. It is a stunning view. Undeniably one of the best in New York. I stood and watched the tiny dancing lights surrounding the Empire State in all directions. Unfortunately, the observation deck is so packed with tourists that you can’t watch for long. That would be my only personal complaint. (In my next letter I’ll discuss the better alternative to the Empire State). Here’s some photos of the moonlit scene anyway…

As you can imagine I pretty much collapsed on my return to the hostel. It was a lovely day.

And only one more day left in NYC…

From Lou

The city that never sleeps

Letter 45

…and neither did I. This captivating place worked its way under my skin just as I expected and made me fall in love with it just as many other places have done. But New York City is different. It’s an exceptionally special city.

I arrived in New York City at 2:30pm on Tuesday the 6th of September 2016; and I will never ever forget this moment. The moment I first stepped foot on a busy Manhattan sidewalk, buildings towering over me and new sights and smells engulfing my senses.

“Drinking coffee at the bus stop, buildings hanging over me. Can’t see the sky line or the high life, this is where it’s supposed to be.”

That’s a quote from Lucy Spraggon’s song ‘London Bound’, and the whole song describes my feelings in New York and for most of America. Listen here (it’s an awesome song).

The first thing I noticed in New York is how easy it is to navigate. Within a couple of minutes of disembarking my megabus I was on the subway heading uptown to 103rd Street to my hostel. The grid system of numbered streets and avenues makes it super simple to find your way – even for someone with zero sense of direction. I stayed in a Hostelling International hostel and loved it. Such a cool place! I wrote a review on the hostel here.

For my first afternoon and evening in the Big Apple I spent time settling in, getting the lay of the land and buying some food for my short stay. I sat beside a lake people and rat watching in Central Park for a while. The rats were far more interesting. I found it so peaceful and such a contrast to the bustling streets of skyscrapers that peeped above the trees in the near distance.

p1030990

After a fabulously long night’s sleep on the comfiest bed of the summer I was ready to tackle New York. I had big plans. I woke at 6am and wondered into the park to check out the sunrise which was honestly highly disappointing due to the gloomy sky, but I still enjoyed a quiet sit down and read my kindle. Meet a nice copper too. I then walked all the way to Times Square – not for the faint-hearted. I stopped off for a smoothie for energy and it took about an hour all in all. I picked up my New York Pass (which I think I’ll discuss more in another post) and my Big Bus ticket and climbed aboard. The bus took me down to Battery Park at the foot of the Wall Street district and I grabbed my ticket to visit Miss Liberty. The boat trip was good but the whole thing took much longer than I wanted; we waited around a lot while they crammed as many people as they could onto the boat but the actual journey to the statue took about 10 minutes. I didn’t disembark because I was time conscious but the view of the islands and the Manhatten skyline was lovely. The boat then went on to Ellis Island which would actually have been my preference to see but once again I didn’t have time to check it out. This is a recurring theme to my trip in NYC.

 After jumping off the boat (onto land never fear) I headed to Soho to start a walking tour! The walking tour took me through Soho and Little Italy and culminating in China Town. 3 contrasting places, and some of my favourite parts of the city. The walking tour was part of the NY pass but I probably could have done a free one had I not had the pass. Either way the guide was lovely and very animated about his stomping ground and I learnt a lot about these quirky areas. If I had longer I would have spent more time wandering around the terraced streets and galleries of Soho and the wonderfully smelling restaurants of Little Italy.

I finished my walking tour Chinatown and took a short walk to the most important place I visited in New York City. The 9/11 museum and memorial. I planned to visit for a short while, walk around the museum and pay my respects in at the memorial. I ended up spending 3 hours walking around the museum, taking in all of the horrifying images, sounds and objects and then sitting for an hour outside in the afternoon sunshine absorbing the memorial around me. It’s an incredible place that so delicately remembers 2,996 people who died that day, 15 years ago. It really must be visited when in New York and you’ll spend longer there than you think. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

I got the Big Bus back to Times Square (I aged significantly on the bus which took an hour and a half in the peak time traffic) but the route was great and so was the guide. I finished the day with a stroll around the Square and dinner with some camp friends.

A truly magnificent day in the Big City.

From Lou

 

PS. If you made it to the end of this monumental post – congratulations. I don’t think I would have. It’s now been almost a month since I was even in NYC (scary!) and this letter has been being written, very slowly, for about 3 weeks. It’s been a hectic time of jet lag, moving back up to Edinburgh, starting the 2nd year of my course and sorting my life out a bit. There hasn’t been much time for my letters. I will hopefully get back to it now though as I still have 2 more days of New York to share and all the stuff that’s happened since I’ve been back! What a crazy month! Thank you for reading. xo

PPS. Happy October one and all!

The world in microcosm

Letter 44

“The pond represents the ocean, the hills represent the mountains and the trees become the forests of the world.”

In my last couple of days in Philly I spent my time exploring the extensive Fairmount Parkand. I was surprised at how many wonderful areas and buildings I found, as well as the statues that make up the Museum without walls. It’s a truly fantastic place that adds so much to the city of Philadelphia.

As I’m writing this I am sat in my home in Somerset. I arrived back in the UK 12 hours ago after spending 3 months in the states – but we’ll chat more about that in a few letters time. I still need to catch you up about my Philly and NYC adventures!

p1030731

This picture was taken in one of my favourite places we came across in the park – the Shofuso Japanese house and garden (link to the website here). It’s a beautiful traditionally designed Japanese house set in equally traditional and wonderfully landscaped gardens. We took time to explore both and I loved it. There were lovely plaques written about the different areas which I also enjoyed reading. As an architecture student I thought it was great.

Around the Japanese House sits the Horticultural Center (link to the website here) which contains hundreds of plants and trees, statues, ponds and seating areas. We walked around absorbing the beauty of its grounds and also had our afternoon nap in front of the reflecting pool.

Fairmount Park is also home to one of the best viewpoints of the city skyline. It’s called Belmont Plateau which is in front of Belmont Mansion. There are a few benches, perfect for a picnic, the only issue is the amount of trash that was thoughtlessly left around the area which did ruin it a little bit. This didn’t take away from the view though.

Travelling further south in the park were even more jewels to be found including the Please Touch Museum (link to the website here) which is housed in a stunning domed building, the Smith Memorial Arch and Cedar Grove (link to the website here) which is a small museum.

Everything I’ve written about so far is on the west side of Schuylkill River which divided Fairmount Park. We explored the west first because that is where our hostel was situated – I wrote a review of the hostel here. We spent a morning walking through the east side to reach the centre of the city which is about 5.5 miles away. This route is actually really special though because there are statues along the river which make up the Museum without walls (link to the website here). Some of the art is modern, some quite ancient but all are fascinating to learn about. You can download audios and information about each piece and I really enjoyed the walk which culminates at the famous LOVE sculpture outside City Hall.

And that rounds up Philadelphia for you! It was a really interesting city to explore and I loved my relaxing stay there. Unfortunately because of Labor Day weekend I didn’t have a chance to see many of the main landmarks and museums but I still found lots of do for my 4 days there.

The Big Apple is next ladies and gentlemen…

From Lou