By: Hannah Jackson
After an eight-hour flight from the country of Ireland, Dillon McDermott, landed in the United States in New York. From New York, Dillon, hopped onto a three-hour flight to Houston before riding an hour by car to finish the long trek to Livingston, Texas from his hometown, Derry, Ireland.
“I didn’t waste any time getting here,” Dillon said. “At the airport, a member of staff picked me up and here I am. I knew it was worth coming despite the short-term stress of situating flight tickets, a Visa, and everything because I knew this would be a great opportunity to serve kids.”
Dillon interviewed and was hired as a counselor at Camp Cho-Yeh after applying to an online database of camps across the United States. In Northern Ireland, Dillon worked at a summer camp, but he wanted to learn more about American culture. Dillon recently graduated from Magee College, a three-year University in Ireland, with a degree in Sociology and Psychology. While earning this degree, he studied a year abroad through a college program in Pennsylvania. Since, he had seen a little of the northeast, Dillon sought to experience southern culture, which is how he narrowed his camp search and ended up at Cho-Yeh.
“I wanted to see southern hospitality” Dillon said. “Already, everyone has been so nice and inclusive. My favorite part about the United States is the friendliness of the people. I was interested to work at Camp Cho-Yeh because I love what they are about. Just in this one week, I have already felt so welcomed in this place. I want to learn more about camp to bring new ideas back to better impact and serve the kids that come to our camp in Ireland.”
Dillon experienced many firsts this week, from eating Blue Bell Ice Cream for the first time, trying Whataburger, facing the humid, hot East Texas summer weather, and being exposed to tons of Camp Cho-Yeh traditions and activities. As he finishes up his first week of staff training, Dillon continues to be captivated by the culture here at camp. Specifically, during the Alpha-Omega Games, Dillon saw a new perspective of how fun, outdoor activities can leave a deeper impact.
“The A/O games really stood out to me because of how inclusive and inviting to all students they are,” Dillon said. “Because they are goofy, made-up games, campers can so easily jump in. At the camp I’ve worked at in Ireland, we usually play normal sports, but there are always campers that dislike a particular sport and are less engaged. The Rally Energizers are such a great way to create community because everyone is together learning a weird, yet fun, song and dance. It’s so cool to see how inviting the entire culture is here at camp, no matter what we are doing.”