Steve Bugeja

Steve Bugeja

How An American Summer Camp Changed My Life

In June 2009 Steve reported for work at Round Lake Camp in Pennsylvania planning to make friends, escape his geeky image back home and exaggerate his British accent in the hope that it would make American girls see past his lazy eye and acne, (it didn’t). Steve was tasked with looking after a 13-year-old called CJ.

CJ was simply incredible. He had hypersensitive ASD (autism spectrum disorder), which did bring its challenges but also meant that certain skills were supercharged. For example, he would walk in giant circles on the grass reciting entire episodes of Spongebob Squarepants with all the characters, all done in the correct voices, while other campers would follow behind him laughing along like Netflix meets conga.

He loved nothing more than studying maps; in fact he had memorised every major road in the United States, making him an actual human Sat Nav. Crucially though, he didn’t mind that he was ‘different’, in fact he saw it as his strength. As someone who was desperately embarrassed by his social failings, being paired with someone who didn’t give a crap was completely liberating. After spending ten weeks surrounded by CJ’s fearlessness Steve plucked up the courage to do his first ever stand-up gig in the staff talent contest, something he has since turned into his career. So in many ways Steve owes CJ everything.

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