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Summer camps

The idea of was born in the mid-1800s when Frederick W. Gunn, headmaster of Gunnery School, a private boarding school in Connecticut, and his wife Abigail led a two-week expedition of pupils, or "gypsy trip" as it was called, to the beach at Long Island Sound in 1861 where they enjoyed hiking, boating, sailing and fishing. The experience was repeated in 1863 and 1865 and a more permanent Gunnery camp was then set up on an inland lake where camp was held for two weeks every August for 12 years.

It was a move that inspired others to establish private camps and church camps, "fresh-air" camps sponsored by social service agencies and camps supported by youth groups including the Boy Scouts, YMCA, Girl Scouts and Camp Fire.

Today there are more than 12,000 day and resident camps of various types throughout the States.

In 1969 the Department for State asked the American Institute for Foreign Studies to take over a struggling exchange programme called Rural Britannia. The programme had arranged for 50 British college students to spend the summer in the United States working as counsellors in summer camp, but was having trouble finding affordable flights.

From here Camp America was spawned. It provides not just counsellors but also staff to fill kitchen and maintenance jobs at camps throughout the US.

They are paid "pocket money" for nine weeks as well as being given free return flights with the opportunity to travel in America at the end of camp.

* Camp America can be contacted at 37a Queen's Gate, London, SW7 5HR. Telephone: 0171-581 7373

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