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By AMANDA HENSLEY
Summer at Camp Kysoc in Carrollton ended Aug. 2, with its 32 counselors saying “goodbye,” “adios,” “au revoir” and “auf wiedersehen,” to the staff and each other.
Over the next week, everyone would be taking off, whether in a car, on a bus or a plane. While some were going home to nearby Versailles, Ky., or Indiana, others were returning home to Australia and South Korea.
This past summer,sa Camp Kysoc had counselors from more than 10 countries, including Germany, France, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Mexico.
The international counselors were brought in from all around the world through an organization called Camp America.
Camp America, with head offices in Stamford, Conn., and London, England, offers young adults the opportunity to spend a summer abroad, working at an American camp.
The international counselors came for numerous reasons, some for work experience and others for the opportunity to travel and get out of their comfort zone.
Matt Wellman, 20, of England, came back to Kysoc for a second summer simply for “the experience and enjoyment.”
While Thomas Flanagan, 18, of Ireland, said he came to America, “to make new friends, improve (his) people skills and to experience a new culture.”
Cultural differences were abundant, they said.
Americans rely more on automobiles than the British and are more open about their beliefs, observed Lucy Gray, 19, of England.
Some ran into language barriers, such as Australian Heather Jackett, 19, whose “Aussie slang” confused her more than once because of the conflicting terms we have for the same things.
And of course, what newcomer wouldn’t comment on America’s unhealthy diet?
“The food has way more fat and sugar in it and the portions are huge,” said Melissa Rutherford, of New Zealand.
Despite their different languages and reasons for coming, “they were all fantastic,” said Jim Ebert, who’s nearing the end of his fourth year as camp director for Kysoc.
“They were the greatest group of counselors I’ve been associated with since I’ve been here,” Ebert said.
Throughout the three-month experience, the 32 counselors helped with a majority of the 11,000 campers who came to Camp Kysoc this summer. They were with the campers 24/7 throughout their stay and experienced military children, church groups and more.
“They were always punctual, energized, caring, and (they) never complained,” he said.
The summer benefits for the counselors ranged from new friends to “life changing” personal growth.
Through the challenging summer, Anne-Marie Wragg, 22, of England, said she had really grown as a person. She had also made some lifelong friends and most importantly “touched the lives of others.”
“Kysoc is life changing,” Gray said. “It will show you who you are (and) teach you how to love all people. It changes your respect level, your heart and your work ethic.”
One counselor returning for her second year as a camp counselor just can’t get enough of the camp. “I love Kysoc and everything it stands for,” said Jess Collis, 21, from Tasmania, an island state of Australia. Collis said she wished she could stay and continue to skip out on Australia’s winters by coming to America during our summer months, but the farewell party marked the time to go home for most counselors.
“We are going to be crying as everyone leaves,” Amanda Groves, 20, said, but admitted she was eager to get back to England and enjoy a home cooked meal — especially “ a curry.”
All their newfound differences and similarities aside, one counselor said no matter what nation you call home, Camp Kysoc can offer a unique experience.
“Kysoc has its own culture. Where else can people from all over the world come together and become family? Only here,” said Erin Ray, 22, an Eastern Kentucky University student.