7 Things I Wouldn’t Have Done Without Summer Camp

I had the most incredible summer of my life, and it is all thanks to Camp Leaders. I flew all the way to Utah, United States to work as a Camp Councillor and to make memories I’ll never forget. I’ve learned so much about myself and about the world, but here are 7 things I would never have experienced if I hadn’t got on that flight:

1. Met my people

Ask anyone who’s been to camp what they miss most, hands down they will say the people. The people make all the long days and tiresome hours worth it. Everyone is crazy, wild and unbelievably approachable. Some of my favourite memories are just sat in the staff room during breaks talking about anything and everything or exploring Utah and seeing their favourite spaces. Even now, I’ve been home for 3 months, I’ve seen my camp friends about 6 times since leaving and we’re taking a trip for New Year’s Eve. I could go on forever, but these are the purest friendships you will ever have. Also now I have friends all around the world, what’s better than that.

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2. Met so many awesome kids

The kids you meet at camp will stay with you for life. They are the happiest, purest kids you’ll ever meet. Ignore the ‘brat’ stereotype because out of the 100 kids I had in my care this summer, about 3 of those were difficult. The 97 others, just want to mock your accent, make friends and get to know you. They look up to you, you’re interesting because you’re different. I spent the majority of summer explaining what a bin was, in my South Yorkshire accent. They loved it. Anything you do is amazing to them, even when they mocked me for eating chips (fries) with a fork.

3. Discover America

I chose to travel with Trek America at the end of camp as it can be a little daunting to be 18 and in America for 12 days alone, so I decided to go for Trek (a lot of people travel together, I didn’t want to chance it). I chose the Western Wonder as I was placed in Utah, the west, and it was packed of some insane sights. To be honest Trek America had so many bucket list things, I’ll list them:

San Francisco – Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, meeting all my new friends, meeting Karl (the locals call the fog Karl).

Yosemite – I love hiking and this is something I never thought I would do. Hiking and camping in Yosemite is something you could never imagine. We explored different hikes, we chose Vernal Falls as it was a stunning waterfall and wasn’t too strenuous. We then chilled and had pizza in the visitor’s centre.

Las Vegas – A long car trip, around 12 hours, in fact. But it was here I found a love for the musical Hamilton, a bit late – I know. We stayed at the Golden Nugget which is situated on the very famous Fremont Street, where many there is Casinos and the exhilarating Zip Lining is located. Being under 21 in Vegas can be quite intimidating but I had a truly unbelievable time. Party buses, casinos, exploring the strip until the early hours of the morning, deliberating the need for 6 ‘I ❤ Vegas’ shirts, then tanning around the shark tank at the pool. To top it all off the hotel even had dressing gowns! What more could you want?

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The Grand Canyon – The first thing our tour guide, James, said was that on average, people only spend 12 minutes there in total. They take pictures and they go, whereas we were lucky enough to enjoy the view at sunset. So we spent forever taking pictures and enjoying the tranquility. We returned the next morning and were able to hike around, which also meant taking some terrifying photos, i.e. pretending to hang off the edge.
Arizona – During the final night of our journey, we had the opportunity to sleep on a beach… In Arizona! At 34 degrees! Even though we were sweating cobbs, definitely a tick off the bucket list.

Los Angeles – I feel like this is on most peoples bucket lists, and we all know why. Who doesn’t want to accidentally see a celebrity in Starbucks? (I wish) We didn’t have a massive amount of time in LA as it was the end of the tour but we explored the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre, saw the Hollywood Sign and found some great gift shops. The dream. However, our tour guide was amazing and took us up to the Griffith Observatory after the tour finished, which had the most breathtaking view of Los Angeles.

4. Went out of my comfort zone

There are many different roles you can have at camp. You can be support staff – i.e. kitchen staff, cleaning, security – or a counsellor, i.e. program specialist or general councillor. I was hired as the program specialist councillor for Outdoor Cooking, this meant I taught our campers how to outdoor cook during activity times but also had a cabin at the same time. This was great as I got to know all the girls in my cabin individually but also got to know a lot of the other campers. I have never taught cooking before so I had to adapt myself and learn how to make the session work for every kid. The best comment I had while teaching was when explaining the safety rules of fire, one child explains that “guys if you wanna be a bagel, now’s not the time.” You get used to (and love) the absolute madness from kids.

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5. Sleeping in a hammock next to a mountain

Even better, got paid for it! I was able to work with the Rising Star program at my Camp, kids who are too old to camp but too young to begin the leadership program. I was able to take them camping with a couple of other councillors. We cooked outside, had a huge campfire and all became besties. Cringe I know. Then I climbed into my hammock and slept under the stars next to a mountain. Another wild moment of realisation. Just thought how 2 months before was chilling in my suburban house and now I’m chilling in a hammock in the Uinta Mountains in Utah.

6. Hiked a mountain at 1 am/Rode a horse/Spent my life in Walmart/Tubing down a river

I was very lucky to have the weekends off at my camp, which meant that we could spend our free time exploring Northern Utah. Salt Lake and Park City are gorgeous (and great for spending) and even chilling around camp. For instance, we decided to hike Moose Mountain (right next to camp) at 1am which seemed like a good idea at the time and was hilarious but totally dangerous and stupid. Another time we spent a couple hours riding the horses around camp and the mountain area, which was terrifying but funny and something I’ve never done before. Walmart will be your best friend. The bargain bin DVDs, best friend. Massive selection of oreo and M&M’s, best friend. Random homeware that you really don’t need, best friend. Plus it’s cheap, what more can you want. Lastly, one of my favourite weekend memories was when the entire staff went tubing down Provo River, literally 50 people floating down a river, cannot get better than that. Plus, there was a rope swing at the end, and who doesn’t love a good rope swing.

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7. Explored cities alone

Something that was really great for my self-confidence, was travelling to an entirely new city on my own for the first time. As long as you’re safe, prepared and know the local emergency numbers! There’s no better feeling than having the freedom to do as you please. I was in alone in San Francisco for a day: I had the opportunity to see so many impressive sights, Pier 39, Alcatraz and Fishermans Wharf. I literally walked from Pier 1 to Pier 39, ate a hot dog, it was great.

Overall, Summer 2018 was a game changer for me. I’ve grown as a person and try to experience life as it comes. Camp will change who you are, for the better. So seriously, if this is even a slight interest, head onto Camp Leaders website, call them up, have a chat, and start the adventure of a lifetime.

Georgia Chapman

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How to have a laugh in Liverpool

Laughter is the best medicine and this week we’re celebrating the John Bishop visit to LJMU by sharing the laughter. Check out our jokes at the bottom of this blog and let us know who you think it’s funniest (even though we all know that it’s Marcy).

Whether you were lucky enough to have to see John Bishop or not, here’s a list of things to do around Liverpool to give you a giggle:

First Draft Scratch Night – Everyman Theatre

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If you’ve never been down to a scratch night, First Draft at the Everyman should definitely be on your Liverpool bucket list. The event is free to attend (although they do accept donations to the food bank), and you never know what performances you will see, it could be anything from stand up comedy to mime, there have also been performances of monologues, spoken word, sketches, poetry, music, magic and much more in the past.

Hot Water Comedy Club

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The Hot Water Comedy Club is the home to all things stand up, they have been the launch pad for many comedians on the journey to Edinburgh and beyond. The club is lovingly co-owned by brothers Binty and Paul, and has a really familial vibe – you go more than twice and they’ll probably remember your bar order.

Scouse Cinderella – Royal Court

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Realistically, the title of this alone should be enough to convince you that this is going to be pure banter. The Royal Court are famed for their scouse spin on productions (with past examples such as Hitch Hikers Guide to Fazakerley). This year’s panto Scouse Cinderella is set to be a riot with main characters including a prince with a foot fetish (?) and a pumpkin that turns into a delta – what an idyllic mix of scouse and magic.

Laughterhouse Live – Philharmonic

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If you’re looking for some big names in comedy then look no further than Liverpool Philharmonic’s Laughterhouse Live on 1st December. The event is hosting not one, not two, not three… four… five or six, but SEVEN comedy giants. The line up is as follows and it looks immense:

Johnny Vegas
Lost Voice Guy
Lee Nelson
Luisa Omielan
Tom Wrigglesworth
Matt Reed
Chris Cairns

Student Opps Comedy Night

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Now, this is a while off, but the anticipation is all part of this fabulous event. Student Opps are hosting our very first comedy workshop and open mic night on 20th March 2019! The day will consist of a workshop for anybody who is looking to improve on their own stand up routine, or are just looking to give it a go, and this will be followed by an open mic night where students are invited to perform. The focus on this day is to use comedy as a way of combating mental health issues, and a much needed respite from studying – do make sure you come along because it’s going to be amazing (We have also invited our good mate John Bishop – we’ll keep you updated on that front!)

 

Finally to finish we’ve picked out our favourite jokes and we’d love to know which one’s the best (not saying we’re dead competitive or anything).

Why did the dinosaur cross the road? … Because the chicken hadn’t evolved yet. (Kimberley) 

A man was milking his cow, and a fly was buzzing about his head. He swatted it away and he could have sworn he saw it fly right into the cow’s ear. He ignored this and continued to milk his cow, when all of a sudden the fly comes out – it went in one ear, and out the udder! (Marcy)

 

Breaking: Theresa May spotted in Warrington’s IKEA as she continues her struggle to find a fit for purpose cabinet. (Lewis)

 

To vote just check out our Social Media pages and comment with the team members name on who you think is the funniest.

Let’s talk cyber security…

I remember the joy of my first internet experience over twenty-five years ago. In fact, I still remember purchasing my first flip brick with T-mobile! From that magical hissing and clicking sound the modem made; with the ridiculously slow speeds but oh the joy once connected! Less than 1 Mbps download speeds.

Today  we surf at over 300 Mbps using fibre optics, tech that’ll run power over Ethernet. Modems are more sophisticated, routers all singing and dancing to include modems. I just love this stuff. Our TV’s have got smart, artificial intelligence lives in our homes, manages our heating, household electrics, lighting and even toasters, kettles and smart plugs to go with it! We are connected, plugged in to the world wide web through our electronic devices. Gaming, speaking, creating, communicating, working, building, shopping, banking, teaching and connecting, I could go on.

When you leave the house in the morning, do you leave your door wide open? No?

What do you do to protect your house? We close the door and lock it. Why?

when we come home at night, do we leave the door open behind us when we enter? We close the door and lock it.

Many of us have other safeguards around the house like surveillance, double locking on doors, or a door chain. Some people have emergency items by their front door to prevent an intrusion.

Think of the internet in exactly the same way as you wanting to be secure in your home. When you enter the internet, you need to lock the door behind you. When you leave the internet, you need to lock the door behind you and have measures in place to protect your privacy, personal identifiable information, files, photos, address, whereabouts and more.

This is one of many posts I will posting from time to time on computer and internet safety, how you can minimise risk and what types of scams to be aware of.

Spoofing 

Spoofing is the act of crooks pretending to be someone else. For example, they may send you an email in one of your friends name asking you to ‘check out this link’. They may mirror an organisation that you shop from or you bank from and send you a convincing looking email pretending to be from the bank and asking you to update your details, log in and so on. When you click the link you are sent to pages that are loaded with malware. Malicious software that includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware.

Phishing

Phishing attacks are emails/mail with links that try to trick you into giving up your personal details, identifiable information for identity theft, bank details and so on.

Unless you are absolutely sure of the content you are receiving. Do not click on or open any emails you are not expecting.

When checking the email, look at the sender. Click the word sender. Many of these emails will have email address like eoeuhsdljfh@dfifsdf.com. Or other such like email. Some are hm-governent@gov.uk. Note the miss-spelling and hyphen. The senders ID can be a big giveaway for dodgy emails. If in doubt, contact the purported originator.

Online Banking and emails

Never give out you banking details to anyone. Genuine banking emails will not ask you for your password, bank account number or CVV number (the three number diits on the back of your bank card). Some banks will send you emails and ask that you log into your account to read messages or communicate with the bank. If in doubt, always log in to see notifications or emails from the bank or alternativily contact your bank by phone. NEVER click reply to any emails, or click links within emails that ask you to enter your personal details.

Student finance

It has come to light a recent phishing scam sends out emails to students pretending to be student finance. The email looks genuine and explains that there is an error with your student finance account and that you are entitled to more money. The email provides a link asking students to enter their bank details so that they get paid the extra money. This is a scam. Your details will be used to extract money from your bank account. Do not give out your bank details to anyone. If in doubt, contact the organisation.

Lock your door

There are several anti-virus and firewalls (many of them free too) to install onto your computer and mobile devices (don’t forget your phones and tablets) for protection. My favourite is zone alarm security which is an anti-virus and firewall and security in one and I have the paid-for version. at less than £30.00 a year, there is no excuse. To double up on security, I also use a secondary anti-virus/security software – free version.

Zone Alarm 

Here is a comparison website for firewall and anti-virus software. Many have free versions of their software. Best free anti-virus software.  If you are not familiar with anti-virus or firewall software, do some research on the most simplest to use/automated. Firewalls are a barrier against hackers accessing your machine. Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs keep your machine safe from malicious software, spies, identify theft and more.

A way to help the fight against malware and viruses; stay away from hack and crack sites. Piracy and news leeches, peer to peer software; illegal music and video downloads. Many of these ‘free’ software and sites are riddled, absolutely riddled with holes full of spyware and malicious code that people make a consensual choice to download onto their machines.  Software is relatively cheap these days. A lot cheaper than a night out. Subscriptions to music and video is affordable also.

Did you know you could get Amazon prime unlimited for students at £39.00 a year or £3.99 per month. At present Amazon are offering a six-month free trial for students. You get free unlimited fast delivery on prime items, the benefit of prime now which is same day delivery, loads of prime eligible TV/Film and music and super kindle deals too. The point is, purchasing software,  streaming music and video is affordable these days..

Despina Mooney

Go Global: A Maltese Adventure

Choosing my International Internship

In April 2018, I received an email from the Go Abroad team about internships in Asia for LJMU students. You can imagine my excitement, right? I immediately sprang into application mode, and began planning the perfect application for this opportunity. It came to submission and I felt confident in how I had presented myself and succinctly evidenced what I could offer LJMU in allowing me to represent the University in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

I refreshed my emails for weeks on end, waiting for the congratulatory subject line. However, all that I read was; ‘Thank you for your application, unfortunately…’ and my heart completely sank. I went into a state of feeling that I had completely failed. However, was determined to undertake an internship, so I contacted the Go Abroad team and told them my predicament. I didn’t want to spend my second year summer in my part-time job, waiting for someone to come to me with an internship or an idea. It wasn’t going to happen.

Applying for an Erasmus+ Internship

After a few hours of deliberation, I had decided my route. The LJMU Go Abroad team told me of an agency in Malta that the University was in partnership with; ‘Stage Malta’. The team gave me their contact details and told me to apply straight away if I was completely determined to go forward in pursuing an internship. By this point, other students travelling to Malta had already had their places secured by Stage Malta and were pretty much ready for their departure. In essence, I had just over a month to secure a placement, get all my documentation prepared, apply for the Erasmus+ grant, save up enough money to fund my trip, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime. About a week after sending in my application, I had my Skype interview.

Stage Malta were probably the most warm and helpful company I could have imagined to be in partnership with. They guided me through the incredibly swift application process and gave me all the information I needed, including my accommodation options in Malta. When interning in Malta, you can live in a shared house, with a host family, or in a residence, all of which differ in price range. I opted to live in a shared house with my own private bedroom, and used my wages from my part-time job to fund this.

After the interview, I began to research media companies across Malta who I would like to be placed with. However, never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would be placed with the company that I was; I was given an internship at Malta’s national newspaper, The Times of Malta. As you can imagine, I called every single family member I could think of, sharing my excitement. I secured my departure date of the 18th of June with an arrival date back home of the 20th of August. My departure date could not fly around quickly enough. The time in between my placement acceptance and my departure was filled with departure meetings with the Go Abroad team sorting the necessary paperwork to secure my Erasmus+ grant. Finally, my Erasmus+ funding was secured, my documentation was finally completed and it was time for me to jet off on a completely new adventure.

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Tips for Erasmus+ Internships

The LJMU Go Abroad team are very helpful in guiding students through their internship applications, but here are a few tips I have learned;

  • During my interview, I said that I wanted to pursue journalism or media and communications. However, it is important when having your interview that you give at least two industry preferences, as agencies sometimes cannot secure your number one choice.
  • Research the country you are visiting prior to your interview, especially how your desired industry has developed and generated a presence in the country. This will show that you have made a fully informed decision as to why your desired country will give you the experience and opportunities related to your field.
  • Since working an 8-5 job, I am now fully aware of how much this time away from a workspace can help your creativity flow and help to wind down after a long week. The best way to do this, I found, was to spend time with my housemates and socialise as often as I could. There are lots of travel ideas on the LJMU Go Abroad Instagram!
  • During my Erasmus+ internship, me and my housemates would look for affordable adventures to do as a group every weekend. It’s still possible to travel on a budget!

What I did for my Internship in Malta

The morning I left for my Erasmus+ internship, I experienced every emotion you could think of. It’s a very daunting prospect thinking of being away from home for over two months, with new faces, in a completely new environment, being independent and working in a new industry. Nevertheless, I could not have been more excited.

During my internship at the Times of Malta newspaper, I worked within the editorial department; researching, constructing, and editing pieces for the following day’s newspaper. Our department edited around 16 pages worth of news every day, which meant that I had to work to very strict time constraints. While challenging, the team were wonderful, and gave me help and advice wherever necessary and answered any questions I had.

Not only was trusted with editing, but I was also given the opportunity to provide content for the newspaper. I was published four times in The Times, with my articles ranging from new contemporary art spaces in Malta, to the LGBT community. I was trusted with conducting interviews myself, leaving the office space to retrieve quotes from the locals, and to visit the wonderful spaces I was writing about. You can find links to my articles on the Times of Malta website.

My Monday-Friday routine consisted of me waking up at 6:30am, going to work for an amazing newspaper, and then ending the day at 5pm. My weekends were filled with a new adventure every time Friday evening came around. We had decided as a household to visit somewhere new every Saturday or Sunday, as really, we only had nine sets of weekends to travel around this beautiful island. We visited places such as Valletta, Mellieha, Gozo, St Julian’s, St Paul’s Bay, Mriehel, Mdina, Sliema and many more.

What I Learned from Interning Abroad

The summer I spent interning in Europe was simply life changing. I was given opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, not only in terms of my internship at The Times but also in terms of the chance to see some incredible sights. When working, studying or volunteering abroad, you begin to learn a lot more about yourself than you originally knew. The experience I had shaped and moulded me as not only a human being, but also as an LJMU student. I am now more driven than ever to give more back to this wonderful community and support system, all thanks to the Go Abroad team who were there every step of the way.

The work (and life) during my Erasmus+ internship I will carry with me for life. If I had not had the initial knock back of being unsuccessful for one internship, it would not have driven me to fight for another. Therefore, the best advice I can give to anyone wishing to work abroad is, to never give up – there is always something on the horizon. Just see the Go Abroad Twitter account for a list of the never ending international opportunities for LJMU students.

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REVIEW: Piggy In The Middle

Nothing warms our hearts quite so much as the words ‘LJMU alumni production’. The Liverpool Screen School has been a home to some truly amazing work over the years, so when we heard about Piggy In The Middle, a piece written,  performed and directed by LJMU alumni, we were so ready. What we weren’t ready for was how truly colourful and distinct that this performance would be.

The Theatre Face production, handwritten by James McCabe in the year after he graduated, focuses on two siblings; Harvey, played by the energetic and talented Isaac Nixon, is intelligent but unmotivated. Charlotte, played by Sophie Dand – who brilliantly portrayed the many layers to her character, is unable to settle into a secure relationship. Both siblings are facing their own financial and personal impasse, only to be told of their estranged father’s impending death. The siblings both go to visit their father in the hopes of inheriting as much as they can from him, as they have been informed that he intends to donate his wealth and holiday home to charity.

Along the way, our protagonists are met by nightmare taxi drivers; a 7 foot tall ‘Keeper of Doors’ and, of course, their father, played by John Mc, who fully committed to his character, and really rocked the morph suit look. McCabe himself is also a co-founder of Theatre Face, and played an array of supporting roles, alongside Theatre Face co-founder and all round gem of a performer, Gabz Booth and current drama student/rising star, Rebecca McEvilly. Throughout the duration of the play, these actors gave truly memorable and engaging performances, bringing to life characters who you hope will reappear the moment they are off stage.

The piece was directed by Carl James Fowler, a fellow founder of Theatre Face, and combined cleaver dialogue with an eclectic mix of physical theatre styles. What really came across from this production was the love that everyone, both actors and those behind the scenes, had for the play, and their combined dedication to bring it to life in the most dazzling way possible.

From the possibly evil beach ball to everybody’s favourite sociopath ‘Pissy Missy’, this play is full to bursting with fresh characters and dynamic insight into the ways in which families function (or don’t function, as is often the case). Our advice is to keep an eye on Theatre Face, and the many talented members of the Piggy In The Middle cast, because if their first original production is anything to go by, they will go on to do amazing things.

Check out Theatre Face on their many social media platforms:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Hopes, dreams, plans and schemes as The Missing Light tells a charming silent tale

There are so many brilliant performances out there that you come to a point where you wonder what more a theatre company could possibly do to create something unique. To put it simply, Make Mend and Do have found the answer – and it involves tiny toffee apples.

The company, fronted by Liverpool born artistic director Mark Arends, have created one of the most distinctive styles of theatre, using three skilled puppeteers, live video cameras and countless tiny props, they tell a wordless story of loss and of hope in the form of The Missing Light.

What followed upon entrance to the Everyman was a charming, warm, and fascinatingly produced story of a seaside village and eternal love.

“You’re never too old for hopes and dreams, there’s always time for plans and schemes.”  – The Missing Light

The lead character transforms from young to hold, and remains the focal point for an audience spanning all ages. She, her husband, and friend are silent yet speak volumes, encapsulating the audience as they make their way on their journey.

One of the most brilliant aspects of this piece is the company’s ability work together, seamlessly transitioning from scene to scene, giving a deeply personal account of romance and friendship. In 40 minutes you feel every emotion possible, as you become more and more invested in the story of these beautifully crafted puppets.

The Missing Light shows that perfectly, it is an outstanding production.

LJMU students you can access £5 theatre tickets, free pre-show events and free workshops as well as 10% off food and drink. Visit everymanplayhouse.com/LJMU for more information.