Hello everyone! My name is Jack Bradley. I’m from Wales in the UK and I am lucky enough to be in my second year at Wolf Ridge. The first time I came was in 2011 and I was hired as an Assistant Trip Leader whereas this time I have been hired as the Director of Health Services which works out well as I am currently studying medicine at the University of Southampton on the sunny south coast of England.
Working at summer camps in the US is becoming more and more popular for UK students. Most go through an agency like I did. They sort out a lot of the bureaucracy such as organising visas and permits, but their real skill is their ability to pair you with a camp that is after the talents you say you have in your application. I grew up in the countryside with biologists for parents and canoeing, hiking and being outdoors were a big feature of my childhood. So when Jenny Bushmaker emailed me telling me what Wolf Ridge was all about I jumped at the chance to be part of a summer there.
And what a summer it turned out to be! Canoeing and swimming at Wolf Lake, rock climbing and ropes course all week, hikes up Marshall Mountain, glorious Minnesotan sunshine, the occasional ice cream sundae in my off time. I was even lucky enough to be part of the Ecology Credit Camp getting to know five amazing young people and spending five days canoeing the beautiful Boundary Waters with them.
As I mentioned, I’m from the countryside. But the UK country, even wildest Wales does not compare to the vast expanses of the United States. For me, that was the most amazing part of my time at Wolf Ridge – the space. Being able to stand on the observation deck and watch a storm roll in across the valley, or to lie outside the West Dorm and gaze up at the northern lights without any drone of traffic or the sound of a siren are memories that will last with me. By spending my summer at Wolf Ridge I’d substituted the honk of a car horn for the serene call of a loon down at the lake. Not a bad swap at all if you ask me.
I spent a lot of time hiking along various trails criss-crossing the Ridge with campers comparing life in the UK to that in the USA, discussing the differing school systems, the NHS, how much bigger US cars are or even the fact that your Milky Way bars have a different colour wrapper (ours are blue and white). Although being from another English speaking country, the campers were inquisitive about my differing culture and loved it when I spoke broken sentences in the Welsh that I had learned during my school years. That is one reason that I am enjoying the fact that Wolf Ridge continues to hire staff from abroad. I know there have been counsellors and trip leaders from all the home nations; England, Scotland, Ireland and my own Cymru (Welsh for Wales). It enables us to share our culture and heritage with you Americans whose history is so much shorter than ours, but have roots across the Atlantic. Many times I remember campers saying “oh my great granddad was from so-and-so place” or “my mum’s family is from near there” (often a place nowhere near where I was talking about).
From my own travelling, I feel it’s great to experience other peoples’ cultures and it really helps to cement understanding of one’s place as a global citizen of the world. This echoes a lot of Wolf Ridge’s messages about responsibility to not just your home city, state or country, but beyond that to being part of this one planet we know can support us. Hopefully my fellow non-Americans and I can inspire our campers to get out of the comfort zones and go see someplace far different from their own so that they come back with a slightly different look at their home in a new light.
– Jack Bradley, Wolf Ridge Summer Camp Health Director (and world traveler!)