At the age of 14, Arthus left for two weeks on a lake in New York State. Without a cell phone or camera, surrounded by Americans, he discovered unusual activities immersed in nature.

Mixing business with pleasure was Arthus's plan for the last summer vacation. At age 14, he flew for two weeks to Camp Talcott, 140 kilometers northwest of New York. He lived this adventure thanks to the association YMCA. Since 1844, it has organized summer stays in the United States and Canada, for young people aged 7 to 17 from all walks of life. The objectives: a linguistic immersion, international meetings, and a surpassing of oneself through sporting activities and in full nature. Basketball, American football, horseback riding, hiking, survival in the forest, Arthus was spoiled for choice. Every Sunday, he signed up with the other young people aged 11 to 16 for an activity in the morning and afternoon that he attended for a week. For € 1,598 all inclusive two weeks (without the ticket), Arthus had an unforgettable stay.

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What I liked: "We learned to make fire, build a cabin, to fish on the lake"

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In this YMCA camp, Arthus (second from left) was the only Frenchman.

The activities were great. The first week, I chose football in the morning and "survive in the forest" in the afternoon. We learned how to make a fire, build a cabin, fish on the lake and then cook our meal, to find one's way in the woods with a map. We also kayaked on the lake, and learned the names of trees, plants, animals … In the evening, we slept in cabins near the lake. We were in groups of eight about the same age, boys and girls separated, with an adult. We also had meals with the group to get to know each other better. Every week, we changed teams, and I made a lot of friends. From the beginning of the camp I was very well received. I was just out of the minibus after the airport, the young people already present came to ask me a lot of questions.

"I brought a little dictionary to replace google translation"Arthus, 14 years old.

There were no French in the camp, only Americans and two Spaniards. I progressed a lot in English, although I had a good level because I had already done sailing courses in England in previous years. This time, I acquired real reflexes. When I came back, I would sometimes think in English, say "sorry" instead of "sorry".

During the stay, we were not entitled to the laptop, or even to the cameras. I was in complete immersion, I thoroughly enjoyed the stay. I had brought a little dictionary to replace google translation if I had problems with certain words. Finally, the food was delicious. There was a Mexican day where we tasted specialties.

What I liked least: "The first two days, I did not understand everything"

We were supposed to do towed buoy on the lake, which was not the case, I was a little disappointed. The beds in the cabins were not very comfortable, but after all this was part of the adventure. In the evening we were not allowed to go out to the bathroom and shower, and we always had to go by group of cabins. Otherwise, I found the first week a little long, especially the first two days when I did not understand everything. It took a while to get used to English, and afterwards I loved it.

What surprised me: "I discovered American football, it was my favorite activity"

On Saturday we could choose a riding option. I had never done it and I loved it. We went for a two or three hour horse ride with a group of six around the camp. The second week, I discovered football: it was my favorite activity, pretty close to rugby. If I lived in the United States, I think I would.

What I'm doing now: "I went from 14.5 to 16.5 average in English"

I am in 3rd at Saint Croix high school in Neuilly. I went from an average of 14.5 in English last year, to 16.5 this year. I hope to have the opportunity to return to the United States, why not try a new YMCA camp. Hopefully I'll be the only Frenchman again.


■ YMCA summer camps in a nutshell:

Or? United States, Canada.
Age:
from 7 to 17 years
Rate:
2500 € on average two weeks depending on the proposed activities (without the plane ticket).
Contact: contact the YMCA France manager by email at a.stork@ymca.fr, or by phone at 07 67 21 13 40. More information on the YMCA France website.

You can also apply as a facilitator. The association also proposes to become "Camp Counselor" (camp counselor), for young people between 18 and 27 years old. You only need to have a good level of English (B2), a BAFA, BAFD or an animation experience.

For more information, the site suggests contacting a manager at the following email address: c.graser@ymca.fr.