Skip To Content
> Blog
Professor Paul Gately Blog Facebook Twitter Linked In
Skip Navigation Links > News & Blog

"Meet Nicola - Camp Director for MoreLife Camp 2017" - 08 May 2017

With less that 3 months to go until MoreLife Camp 2017, we chatted to this year's Camp Director Nicola Sides about all things Camp!

Hi Nicola! Congrats on your role as Camp Director this year.
Fill us in - how did you first get involved with Camp? 

2011 was my first year doing MoreLife Camp. After having worked for 2 years at Camp America I felt ready to take my work on summer camps to a new level and help people. My Mum had seen MoreLife Camp on the news and suggested that I apply for a job there. It sounded amazing and so I did - as Head of Programming. However, I ‘fell’ at the first hurdle…I didn’t get the job, but I was offered a voluntary role. I’m not going to lie- I was disappointed. But the camp looked so good I couldn’t pass on the opportunity and accepted the role as camp volunteer!

So, what was the rest of your first summer at MoreLife Camp like?

Once I got to camp and met Gemma who was Head of Programming I no longer felt any bitterness- she was amazing and deserved it! Even better, on my first day at camp Claire from the 90’s band Steps was visiting. Although not all the campers had heard of Steps, I joined the rest of the staff in the excitement and we all danced on stage to 5, 6, 7, 8. I worked so hard in my first week on camp getting stuck in wherever I could and had the best time. In the last week of camp a staff member had to leave due to unforeseen circumstances and the camp staff members suggested me to take her position. MoreLife Camp gets plenty of volunteers each summer so it was an honour that they recommended me. Of course, I jumped at the chance and within a few hours I went home, packed my bags and was back as staff!

Following an amazing couple of weeks at MoreLife Camp I knew I wanted to come back and was ready to do anything I could to do this. Over the year I helped on their camp reunion weekend and worked as a lifestyle leader on their holiday programmes. I even chose to do my masters research on self-esteem changes over camp.

That must have been interesting! So what was your next role at camp?

In 2012 I was overjoyed to find out I had been offered the role as group leader for the lower girls group. I have to admit- I think this was possibly my favourite summer on camp. As a group leader I got to spend a lot of time with my group and could really see them grow and develop over the summer. We would spend lunchtimes and evenings in our common room doing hair and nails. I do however remember the time a huge spider ran across the floor and I had to pretend I was not terrified and hold composure when really all I wanted to do was run away screaming!

My efforts must not have been wasted as by the end of camp the managing director, and professor at Leeds Beckett University, Paul Gately informed me of a PhD opportunity. I applied for this, and luckily I got the position!

What a great achievement! How has your PhD work given you a different insight into MoreLife camp?

It gave me an amazing opportunity to really understand the campers, their experiences of weight loss, not only on camp, but also afterwards. Through this I helped develop their follow-on programme to help campers maintain their weight loss through education and motivation. I would go on to spend MoreLife Camp 2013 and 2014 living on camp, but as a researcher conducting focus groups and interviews.

You must have learnt so much! What did you do after this?

In 2015 I was coming to the end of my PhD and I was once again in a position to fully commit myself to camp. I was ready to re-apply for the role of Head of Programming which I initially applied for all those years ago. I loved this role. Partly because Head of Programming gets to stand on the chair at the front of the dining hall and encourage all the chanting, and staff pie-ings (this is where a camper gets to splat a staff member with a shaving foam pie- usually as staff punishment or camper reward), and is a role we informally call as ‘Head of Fun’ on camp!

2016 as Assistant Camp Director is where it starts to get really serious. This is the year I got to work very closely with our Camp Director Amy who has always been a fantastic leader. We worked together through the running of camp, and I took the role of Camp Director on her days off. This year really helped me develop my managerial skills and understand the ins and outs of running Europe’s longest running weight management camp.

So that brings us to this year - how do you feel about being 2017 Camp Director?

This is going to be my 7th year on camp. I have experience in almost all of the roles on camp, whether on camp directly or on another of our club’s programmes. I am ready to take on the challenge and cannot wait to meet all the new campers and make a real difference in their lives!

Nicola started out as a volunteer at camp. If you would like to join camp as a day volunteer this year get in touch at

If you would like to book your child’s place for MoreLife Camp 2017 click here and reserve now 

To Top