Coaching opportunities in the USA
It’s a unique place where everybody goes and doesn’t know anyone else so everyone is keen to make friends – it’s a bit like freshers’ week at university.
BUNAC offer a range of work, intern and volunteer programmes. James Davies, 21, from Birmingham, spent two months coaching tennis with BUNAC’s Summer Camp USA programme at Camp Iron Lake in Pennsylvania. Here he shares his experience
How did you first hear about BUNAC?
I first heard about BUNAC through a university friend who was doing a summer camp. He said, “If you’re looking for something to do over the summer, why don’t you check out BUNAC?”
How did you go about applying to BUNAC?
The application process was really easy. I had to write a little bit about myself and select up to three activities that I could teach. It’s a bit like applying for a job – you tell them about your experience working with kids and why you think you would be a good counsellor.
I was invited to an interview with someone at BUNAC where we chatted about my skillset and whether I would be suitable for camp. We talked through a few scenarios and how I would act in those situations. Once I had been approved, my application was sent off to the States and circulated around the camps. One of the camps got in contact. I did a Skype interview with the camp director who then offered me a place at the camp.
Did you have any previous coaching experience?
I had limited coaching experience, which I was a little worried about to begin with, but I had been playing tennis for quite a long time. The guy that ran the tennis section was great. He told us the basics of how to teach tennis to younger kids and then some of the more advanced guys who had coaching experience went on to teach the better kids who competed in camp tournaments.
Did you have any expectations of the camp before you went?
For some reason I imagined that everyone would sleep in tents, but it definitely isn’t. It was all very modern with really nice log cabins and great facilities. I really didn’t know what to expect but it was nice to arrive at this camp on a beautiful lake in the woods so if anything it exceeded my expectations.
Did you do any training before you went?
I didn’t have any training before I arrived at the camp, but they have a week or two-week orientation before the kids arrive. You spend that time learning the ropes, learning about safety and in my case how to coach tennis.
What was the best part of your BUNAC experience?
I had a lot of kids who improved their tennis over the summer and that was really satisfying. There were a few kids who were ambivalent towards tennis but we did lots of fun games. It was really great to see some of the kids, who at the beginning weren’t bothered, became really excited about getting involved.
Has your experience inspired you to find a career working with kids?
I’m going to Cambodia in February to teach English, so it has definitely inspired me to work with children. I’m not sure I’ll end up as a teacher but I’m keen to carry on working with kids, especially in sport because it’s something I really enjoy.
Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?
If I did it all again I think I would take a better tennis racket! I took one of my old rackets, which I thought would be fine but when you’re playing almost every day of the summer it does tend to fall apart. I ended up restringing it about five or six times.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to BUNAC?
Just go for it. Try and get as much experience working with kids as possible as they can be tricky at times and the more exposure you get the better you are at dealing with situations. It will definitely be a really good adventure.
I made some really good friends from all around the world including Australia and America. It’s a unique place where everybody goes and doesn’t know anyone else so everyone is keen to make friends – it’s a bit like freshers’ week at university.
BUNAC is looking for dedicated, energetic coaches and instructors to lead tennis sessions at camp to children aged 6-16 this upcoming summer. They’re holding recruitment fairs in London on January 25 and Manchester on January 27 for you to meet summer camp directors directly and get hired on the spot. Give them a call today to book your spot 033 3999 7516 or click here.