Getting Back into the Gym – My Plan

Feeling sore but GREAT today.  Can’t lift my arms above elbow level, my shoulders hurt so bad.  After a good leg session this morning, I’m setting goals.

In around 2014, I got really into lifting weights at the gym.  Then in 2015/16, I tried to follow a plan and take it a bit more seriously.  Not like, competition serious – just enough to start following a plan and tracking progress.  Plus I spent a summer sorting out some long standing pain, and had a technique session for deadlifts and squats.

I’ve kind of sporadically kept up the gym this year, enough that I hurt every week, but not enough to see any progress.  It’s time to start following a plan again!  In April I managed an 80kg deadlift for 1 rep, and had grand goals for 100kg by the end of the year!  It’s unlikely I’ll manage that now, but maybe a goal for this coming April.

I’ll be working from the last plan I used, with a few changes.  It works on a 3 weekly rotation starting with higher reps, then lowering the reps by the 3rd week, before going back to 12.  I seen amazing progress in my strength the last time around, so no reason why not to try it again.

Since I start work pretty early and work long days.  The plan is to train 3 days a week to start with, and I’ll add in an extra leg day when I can.  As I work through the plan, i’ll be tracking my progress on instagram.  Give me a follow at @lauraoverthinksit

I’m interested to hear from anyone else who took a break then got back into the gym.  How did you find your progress?

Why You Need a 5 Year Plan

Have you ever thought about what the next 5 years holds?  Or what you would like to achieve?  It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s sensible to have a 5 year plan. Around 2009 I realised I needed to start planning for the future.  My temporary job with the council went permanent and I…

Summer Camp 2018 – What is Camp America?

Summer is coming to an end, and if you live in the UK – it wasn’t up to much.  My advice to you, is to start focusing on next summer!  That’s right, summer 2018.  Before you’ve even packed away your sandals and favourite shorts, I want you to consider an adventure for next year.

Working as a counsellor at a summer camp in the USA, is easily one of the best decisions I ever made.  I applied to Camp America in late 2008 and was offered a job at a camp in Michigan, USA in January 2009.  Applications are open for summer 2018 and I want to convince you why applying could change your life!

Your job as a camp counsellor is basically to make sure the kids have the best summer ever... No pressure. Seriously though, you lead or assist in sports/activities, look after the childrens wellbeing and generally just make the experience FUN. Depending on your experience, you might live with the children in cabins, or your co-staff. There are also options to work in the kitchens, on maintenance or sometimes in an office environment. When you decide to apply, and reach the stage of selecting an interviewer - they will advise you on your skills.
UK Staff 2011

Firstly, I want to explain what it is.  I quickly realised people have the wrong idea.  They think summer camps are where rich families in the USA ditch their kids for the whole summer.  Not true.  Some of these families save all year to send their children, some come through a sponsor, and other camps cater specifically for underprivileged children.

The types of camps are incredibly varied.  There are religious camps, sport specific camps, YMCA camps, girl scout camps…  I could really go on.  My point is, that there are camps to suit – not just the children – but the staff too!  The length of camp changes from camp to camp too.  There are day camps, 2 week session camps, and whole summer camps.

I spent 2 seasons interviewing potential staff for ‘Camp America‘.  The best way to describe who they are is, a cultural exchange program.  There are several other companies that promise the same service but I personally believe that Camp America is second to none.  So I will only be using them as an example.

Working as a counsellor at a summer camp in the USA, is easily one of the best decisions I ever made. I applied to Camp America in late 2008 and was offered a job at a camp in Michigan, USA in January 2009. Applications are open for summer 2018 and I want to convince you why applying could change your life! Firstly, I want to explain what it is. I quickly realised people have the wrong idea. They think summer camps are where rich families in the USA ditch their kids for the whole summer. Not true. Some of these families save all year to send their children, some come through a sponsor, and other camps cater specifically for underprivileged children.
Camp America Website

Camp America work with the highest number of camps, increasing your chances of placement.  Every year they place over 7,000 people at camps all over the USA!  They have won awards for recruitment and customer service.  Plus, I’ve met a bunch of them.  They are simply the most awesome, hardworking bunch of people.

Your job as a camp counsellor is basically to make sure the kids have the best summer ever…  No pressure.  Seriously though, you lead or assist in sports/activities, look after the childrens wellbeing and generally just make the experience FUN.

Depending on your experience, you might live with the children in cabins, or your co-staff.  There are also options to work in the kitchens, on maintenance or sometimes in an office environment.  When you decide to apply, and reach the stage of selecting an interviewer – they will advise you on your skills.

Certain experience gives you a higher chance of placement at a camp.  If you have coaching skills in any sport, or are especially good at something such as photography.  Lifeguards are needed at any camp with a waterfront area, as well as swim teachers.

However, if you aren’t the sporty or the artistic type, then any experience with children is great!  Whether it’s scouts, girl guides or volunteering at a youth club.

My Experience

When I completed my application, most of my experience was with horses.  So I included lots of detail about that.  I was offered a job working within the horseback program at a camp which included other sports.  The program manager was kind enough to agree to let me spend the first half of the summer working in the barn, and the second half on ‘main camp’ living with the kids and assisting in other sports.

As I spent 4 summers straight attending the same camp, I learned lots of different activities.  This let me teach archery, arts and crafts and assist with a ton of other things.  I also learned to sail, waterski (very badly) and drastically improved my swimming.

Your job as a camp counsellor is basically to make sure the kids have the best summer ever... No pressure. Seriously though, you lead or assist in sports/activities, look after the childrens wellbeing and generally just make the experience FUN. Depending on your experience, you might live with the children in cabins, or your co-staff. There are also options to work in the kitchens, on maintenance or sometimes in an office environment. When you decide to apply, and reach the stage of selecting an interviewer - they will advise you on your skills.
Sailing Boats

Cost

This always feels a bit hidden, and it’s not!  It just sounds like a lot of money until you break it down.  Luckily, Camp America now have a page dedicated to breaking down the costs.  They also deal with the whole process and guide you through getting your visa, booking your flights and transfers to camp at the other end.  The only costs you might need to cover yourself are; a medical from your GP (though I never paid for mine) and the cost of getting to and from your nearest USA embassy for your visa appointment.  I believe it’s normally London now.

Payment

Since you live on camp for a minimum of 9 weeks through the summer, don’t worry, camp will feed you.  Camp America will pay you a minimum of $650 for the summer.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s effectively ‘pocket money’.  Depending on your age and the job you do, you may be given more.  The only thing you need money for during the summer, is nights off, snacks and sometimes laundry if the camp doesn’t have facilities.  So save up your spending money for after camp travels!

Apply Now!

It doesn’t hurt to enquire.  Now is a great time to apply, there’s less pressure on completing your application and plenty of time to volunteer with children to get extra experience.  When January rolls around, Camp America host recruitment fairs all over the UK.  If you haven’t already been placed by then, these are a GREAT way to get hired.

Hundreds of camps attend and allow you to sell your personality face to face with camp directors.  I have worked at around 4 of the fairs, both for my own camp and for Camp America.  Look out for my blog post nearer the time, with advice and hints on how to get hired at the fair!

So, if you have an outgoing personality (or wish you did) then I think a summer at camp could be for you!  I’ll be posting from now until summer 2018 through the application process and up to a packing list.  I’m also open to questions and suggestions, so please get in touch.  This experience changed my life, and I hope you decide to let it change yours.

Summer is coming to an end, and if you live in the UK - it wasn't up to much. My advice to you, is to start focusing on next summer! That's right, summer 2018. Before you've even packed away your sandals and favourite shorts, I want you to consider an adventure for next year.
Camp America
Summer is coming to an end, and if you live in the UK - it wasn't up to much. My advice to you, is to start focusing on next summer! That's right, summer 2018. Before you've even packed away your sandals and favourite shorts, I want you to consider an adventure for next year. Working as a counsellor at a summer camp in the USA, is easily one of the best decisions I ever made. I applied to Camp America in late 2008 and was offered a job at a camp in Michigan, USA in January 2009. Applications are open for summer 2018 and I want to convince you why applying could change your life!
Camp America

Best Summer Sale Shoes

It’s that time of year, all the summer sales are on, and everything we paid full price for is now reduced in the sale! I take FOREVER to choose shoes.  I am all about comfort, and I’d rather be comfortable than look good.  Luckily, this year I’ve found some shoes which do both!  I’ve put…

Start of the Autumn Shop

Well, that’s September here, and summer is feeling truly over here in Scotland.  Not that we get much of a summer anyway.  However, it’s time to start looking forward to that autumn/winter fashion.  Instead of being freezing with my legs out, pretending it isn’t 14c and raining outside in July. Since next year we’ll be…

The Reason I Didn’t Go to Graduation

At the time of publishing this blog post, I am 29 years young.  I’ve had a ton of jobs, and switched around careers a bit.  This also means, I’ve been to a few colleges – and university once.  However, I didn’t go to my graduation.

I left school after 5th year (which is year 12 in England, and junior year in high school in USA).  It is only compulsory to stay in school until you are 16 in Scotland.  I was desperate to get out of school, I wanted to work and earn some money – but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I completed an Administration HNC at college, and went on to work in clerical and admin support for several years.  This allowed me a great deal of flexibility, as I was able to pick up temp and agency work.  Ideal for when I was sauntering off to work in the USA every summer from 2009-2012!

After a temp job for my local council went permanent, I panicked slightly and decided I wanted a different career.  I had always considered nursing, but wasn’t willing to commit to 3-4 years at university.  So I applied for an HNC in Healthcare at college, and figured I would make a decision once that was over.

Thankfully, I absolutely LOVED college.  My lecturers were fantastic, really interesting and helpful.  I was also lucky enough to be offered an unconditional place in nursing at university when my course finished.  This was through an interview assessment the college had arranged, the whole class was guaranteed an interview and I think there was 2 places.

I’d like to discuss my experience with studying nursing in another post, so I’m going to skip this part altogether.  I will say – nursing is hard.  The course is very time consuming and tough, we do roughly 40 hour placement weeks, while trying to study and hold down part time jobs.

At the start of 2014 – with the course end date looming – I started looking for jobs.  My friend told me about a hospital in Bristol, which was hiring newly qualified staff to start in October.  So I applied and was invited for interview.  From what I remember, my interview was in April and I was offered a job shortly after.

The next few months flew by, in a whirlwind of essays, final placements (and a little bit of new romance).  It was September before I knew it, and I needed to accept or reject the job.  With my new man in tow, we moved down to Bristol at the end of October 2014.

At the time of publishing this blog post, I am 29 years young. I’ve had a ton of jobs, and switched around careers a bit. This also means, I’ve been to a few colleges – and university once. However, I didn’t go to my graduation. It initially sounded like a really fun, exciting day! Get dressed up in the gowns and caps, stand up in front of your classmates and proudly accept your degree. Then of course, the graduation ball. It turns out, it’s expensive to graduate. I never realised you need to pay for the gown and cap hire, plus the grad ball is expensive – not including a new outfit and probably hair and makeup. I was skint.
Nursing Degree

I believe graduation was in the November, and I briefly considered flying home to attend.  However, if I’m completely truthful – I never wanted to go to graduation.

It initially sounded like a really fun, exciting day!  Get dressed up in the gowns and caps, stand up in front of your classmates and proudly accept your degree.  Then of course, the graduation ball.  It turns out, it’s expensive to graduate.  I never realised you need to pay for the gown and cap hire, plus the grad ball is expensive – not including a new outfit and probably hair and makeup.  I was skint.

Moving down south wasn’t going to be cheap, and living off part time wages is difficult.  Though the bottom line was – I didn’t want to go to graduation!  I didn’t feel like I needed to validate my efforts with all the frills and fuss.  The cost only sealed my decision.

I graduated – in absence – in 2014.  The lovely Bristolian post man shared my special moment with me as I signed for my degree.  He laughed at me as I screeched in delight (I was still proud of myself after all) and told him about my special envelope.  I still had to pay £40 to graduate, I’m assuming it was an administration fee.

For 1 year at college and 3 years at university, I worked harder than I ever had before.  There was moments I wanted to quit – I even went as far as to tell my personal tutor I was leaving, but she luckily talked me out of it.  The social side of being a nursing student is very different to other courses.  We don’t get the same holidays, and we move around on work placements for several weeks at a time.  So you don’t spend 3 years getting to know your classmates, and enjoying nights out!

I don’t regret missing graduation or my grad ball.  My parents didn’t mind, as long as I was happy.  In my eyes – I saved money, achieved the same result and feel just as proud of myself.  I love being a nurse and that’s what matters most to me.

I believe graduation was in the November, and I briefly considered flying home to attend. However, if I'm completely truthful - I never wanted to go to graduation. It initially sounded like a really fun, exciting day! Get dressed up in the gowns and caps, stand up in front of your classmates and proudly accept your degree. Then of course, the graduation ball. It turns out, it's expensive to graduate. I never realised you need to pay for the gown and cap hire, plus the grad ball is expensive - not including a new outfit and probably hair and makeup. I was skint.
Graduation