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Summer Camp Jobs America

About US Summer Camps
As a student, working in a summer camp in the USA for nine weeks of your summer holiday is a demanding, tiring but highly rewarding - and is going to be an experience you will never forget.

If you are thinking about trying to get seasonal work in US summer camps as a camp counsellor (spelt counselor in the USA) or as support staff, we have highlighted the application fees and processes of various agencies that help you get a placement here.

This page is intended to give you more in-depth knowledge about the types of US summer camps out there and the skills you need to get yourself a placement for one of the ultimate student experiences; working and travelling in the United States of America.
Camp America
Spend summer 2016 living and working at a summer camp in the USA with people from all over the world. Working at summer camp is one of the most unique, rewarding and memorable experiences you’ll ever have – and you’ll make the best friends you’ve ever had, that will last a lifetime!

Camp America are looking for people who are experienced in all areas of the Outdoors; including archery, canoe/kayak, climbing (rock and wall), hi/low ropes, motorboat driving, mountain biking, orienteering, sailing and windsurfing.

Camp America work with over 1,000 summer camps spread all throughout the USA who are also looking for kitchen workers, waiters, cleaners, office workers, gardeners, handymen & much more

To find out more and apply - visit our Camp America page
Types of Summer Camp in the USA
Unlike the UK, the summer camp is a part of American culture. Every summer, thousands of summer camps spring up all over the USA and millions of children and young people from all walks of life and from all states head off to 'camp' for a given period.

There are many types of US summer camp from highly specialised to general 'a little bit of everything.' As a student, when you complete your application for working in summer camps in America, your agency will use all the information you submitted to try to place you in a camp that will both benefit you and the children you are going to be working with. Even if you are placed in a specialist camp, other activities are always available to campers as well as the specialism.


General summer camps:
As we said above, the general summer camp is a little bit of everything. The children and young people who attend these camps are here to have the full camp experience. Time away from parents and home, and fun activities to fill the days. Sport, adventure and creative activities are all likely to be on the agenda with lots of sports matches and competitions being held, but the children take part in these to enjoy the experience, rather than to specialise or gain any particular awards and qualifications.

Outdoor & Adventure US summer camps:
Obviously, in summer camps such as this, the emphasis is on the the love of the great outdoors from adrenalin boosting sports to environmental awareness. Accommodation is likely to be in remote areas of the USA where staff and campers stay in tents and work together to build camps and learn all about outdoor cooking and foraging. Climbers and water sports enthusiasts, this type of camp could be the one for you.
Sports US camps:
Some camps specialise in sport such as football, tennis, swimming and athletics. Children and young people attend these camps to be coached in their specialist sport, gain qualifications and awards and improve their level of skill. As with other summer camps in the USA, sports camps will have general summer camp counselor jobs, but if you have extensive experience or recognised qualifications in a particular sport, you could get a position as an instructor. UK Elite Soccer, for example, have summer camp jobs in the USA for UK based qualified football coaches.

Performing & creative arts US summer camps:
We think you're getting the gist of this now. Yes, US arts summer camps specialise in entertaining children who have a more creative edge to their personality. If you're the creative type, particularly if you are a student doing a course or degree in anything creative, these types of camps are probably going to be right up your street. Don't forget, though, you'll still be expected to show willing in all other areas of camp life, too. It's all part of the fun.

Religious US summer camps:
If you are from a Christian or Jewish background and you would like to spend your time in a US summer camp with other like-minded people, then the US has many religious summer camps that you could work in. These camps tend to offer all the usual sports, adventure and activities but are likely to have more religious-centred evening activities such as Bible or Torah study and camp singing.

As with positions on all US summer camps, students hoping to be offered a place in a religious summer camp need to highlight this in their application form.

Special Needs US summer camps:
Special needs summer camps cover a huge spectrum. For instance, it could be a fat burning camp where children and young people go to lose weight and learn about nutrition. And at the other end of the scale, there are summer camps in America for children and young people with severe physical and mental disabilities. These types of camps require camp counselors with skill and experience in this field and part of your job could involve assistance in feeding, washing and dressing campers as well as running the various activities offered by such camps.

These are just a few of the different types of summer camp in the USA. As mentioned above, summer camp is embedded in American culture and there's a whole range of different camps run by various bodies throughout the states. They're all professional outfits and agencies in the UK choose which camps they work with. Whichever type of camp you work on, you will be given appropriate and thorough training before the children arrive so you have nothing to fear there.
What skills do I need to get summer camp jobs in America?
The main point to get clear for students or graduates wanting to work at a summer camp in America is that you don't have to be a superman or superwoman at sport! There are many, many types of american summer camps and countless activities on offer to the children and young people who attend them.

Whichever agency you choose to apply for American summer camp jobs, make sure your application form highlights your many skills. You'll be surprised at which of your skills could be in demand. So, just before you go thinking you haven't got anything of use or relevance to offer, and therefore don't stand a chance of getting seasonal work over in the United States of America, take a look at this list below. Your skills are needed.

Water sports:
If you have any water-based skills or experience, you are in high demand from US summer camps and your chances of finding a placement are increased. Make sure you highlight any formal qualifications in your application as well as your unbounded enthusiasm (formal qualifications aren't necessarily essential) for all things water, whether that be in the pool, in rivers or lakes!

Water-based activities in American summer camps include: Lifeguarding (this is always in high demand), sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, motor boat driving, snorkelling, scuba diving, pool-based sports, water skiing, wake boarding, jet skiing, rowing, fishing, windsurfing.
General land and field sports:
We know we said you don't need to be a sport freak to get a placement in an American summer camp but if you are enthusiastic about a particular sport or, even better, you have any up to date, recognised coaching qualifications at any level, your chances of getting seasonal work in a summer camp in America are increased.

So, if you play tennis or football for a local club, for example, make sure you let your agency know on your application form. Comb your sporting life and add anything you do to your form - you never know what might enhance your case when applying. Remember, you need to make yourself stand out above your competition.

What you think you might lack in physical experience, fill that gap with your enthusiasm for any sport you play or take part in. And don't worry yourself by thinking, "Oh, they won't need my sport." Many sports are on offer at summer camps and, even if your specialism isn't there, by attending your local club or playing a game with your friends on an informal level, it still shows the camp owners that you are willing to get involved.
UK Elite Soccer
Let's take a look at some of the land and field sports activities offered at summer camps in the United States of America: athletics, tennis, horse riding, gymnastics, baseball, golf, fencing, archery, riflery, basketball, handball, hockey (field hockey, ice hockey and roller hockey), football (both of the European and the American variety - don’t forget you're in the USA), volleyball, aerobics instructors, general fitness instructors or trainers, yoga, pilates, lacrosse, martial arts such as karate and jiu jitsu, skateboarding, softball.

Adventure sports:
There's always an opening in American summer camps for those adrenaline junkies who fancy spending 9 weeks of their year coercing children and young people to take part in some of those activities they wouldn't normally consider possible. There's a little bit of crossover between the water sports and the adventure sports because obviously, careering down fast flowing rapids in a raft and a helmet is hardly a gentle pastime.

So what do you do with your spare time - or even in your university degree course - that could be considered adventurous? As with the other activities, any type of experience or existing qualifications or certificates are going to enhance your application. And if you have no experience, either go out and get yourself some or let your good old unbridled enthusiasm shine through.

For all you students and graduates who live a life fuelled by adrenaline, what adventure sports are available at american summer camps to keep those adrenaline levels boosted? Climbing (high ropes and low ropes, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, rock climbing), abseiling, go-karting, mountain biking, buggies, quad biking, hiking, trekking, paintball, orienteering, night hiking, backpacking, camping (usually wild camping as the children are on camp, anyway), outdoor cooking.

The water sports crossover comes in the form of whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking and the water skiing and jet skiing.

Other outdoor sports that aren’t necessarily adventure sports, but involve being outside nevertheless, are ecological and nature activities. If you love being in the great outdoors studying wildlife, any sort of bugs and beasties, fungi, undergrowth and plants, then you’re not on your own. If you’re willing to spend nine weeks imparting your knowledge and enthusiasm and making children and young people more aware of their natural surroundings, there’s an American summer camp looking for you. You might be getting the picture by now that literally, all sorts of skills are required.

But we’re not finished yet! Let us continue...

Performing Arts & Crafts:
Yes, there are also openings for students and graduates who are (or maybe not) the next big thing on stage. Are you a talented musician, singer, dancer or performer of any description? Seasonal work placements in American summer camps in these specialisms are competitive but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to come by. You just have to be more convincing than the rest in your application form.

Performing Arts and Crafts covers such a huge area but let’s start by giving you some idea of the skills summer camps in the USA are looking for:

For the performers: Well you won’t be surprised to see dance and drama in this list. What else? Singing, choreography, set design, costume design & making, make-up, guitar, drums, piano (in fact, any type of musician), sound & lighting, music production, circus skills, magic, stage management.

For the creative folks: Fashion design, woodwork, metal work specialists, jewellery designers, painters and drawers - especially all you cartoonists out there. Ceramics, sculptors, glass blowers and stained glass makers. If textiles is more your forte, your screen printing, batiking and tie-dying skills are all needed, too. If you’ve got any sort of creative talent, show it off on your application form!

Media:
Still not seen anything in these lists that you could impress summer camp owners enough for them to give you a job? Well, this is the 21st century and you’ll be pleased to know summer camps in the USA are great at keeping up with the times. Media and digital media are high on the agenda these days and most of us have talents in this field, specialist or not.

Here are some of the media skills summer camp owners are looking for from international students and graduates: digital and film photography, journalism, radio, computer programming, website building, video production and camera skills, video editing, sound and lighting.

General Camp Counselor Jobs:
Help! I really want to work in a US summer camp but I’m not a specialist in any of those fields!

Well, that’s okay. All is not necessarily lost...

There are positions for super enthusiastic students or graduates who just want to be a general camp counselor. It’s said to be one of the most difficult (but rewarding, of course) jobs on camp because you will be with your campers all day, every day. You are their adult presence, their role model and yes, their idol. If you think you can keep that up for nine weeks, make sure your application form highlights any talents you have and your eagerness to work with children. After all, summer camps are all about the children.

US Summer Camp Support Staff Jobs:
Didn’t we just say American summer camps are all about the children? Well that is true but all good camps need people to work behind the scenes, otherwise the camp couldn’t run efficiently. So if you like the idea of taking time out and working at summer camps in America but you don’t want to be working with children all the time, you could consider a role making up part of the support team.

Possible roles for US summer camp support staff: stickler for cleanliness in your halls of residence or student house? Why not take those skills to the US with you and be a part of the summer camp cleaning or laundry team? DIY enthusiasts, there’s a role for you, too, as a member of the maintenance crew. Chefs, cooks, general kitchen assistants are all needed - a great role and ideal work experience for anyone studying catering and hospitality management. If filing and general organisation is your thing while at college or university, you could get valuable work at an American summer camp by being a member of the office staff. See? There’s just about something for everyone in a summer camp!

And the advantages to students who are part of the US summer camp support staff... Camp counselors have to be with the children 24 hours a day, sleeping in bunks or tents with them at night. As support staff, you get your own sleeping areas. Your working hours are also less and, in most cases, you get weekends off. Sounds like a good deal to us!
Any Other Requirements?
There are a few basic requirements for american summer camp jobs:
  • Must be 18 years old by the 1st June
  • Available to fly to America by mid June
  • Pass a police check (DBS)
  • Eligible for a J-1 working visa (your agency will help you with this)
What Roles Can I Do At Summer Camps in the USA?
Well, if you’ve just read the skills lists above, you should have a good idea of the types of work you are going to be doing throughout your nine weeks in camp. However, these skills are just a tiny part of your role at US summer camps.

Most students who are offered work at summer camps in America will either be support staff (see the skills list above) or camp counselors. If you have coaching qualifications, significant experience or other relevant awards for your specialism, you could be given a role as a coach or instructor. However, this still makes you a camp counselor. At the end of your day’s activities, you will still take part in camp life, joining in and organising evening activities and sharing dorms or group tents - wherever your summer camp is situated - with fellow camp counselors and campers.

If you are a ‘returner’ (as in you have worked in US summer camps previously) then, if you did well and made an impression on the camp management team the year before, you could find yourself in a position with more responsibility and maybe even a bit more financial reward for your efforts.
Benefits of working in Summer Camps in the USA
If you read our article about how students and graduates can find summer camp jobs in the USA, you will know that if you’re looking to make your fortune over the nine week period, then working in a seasonal summer camp job is not for you. Financial gain is not a major benefit of working in a US summer camp!

So what exactly are the benefits?
  • Personal reward: As a student working in a US summer camp, you are probably going to learn more about yourself in 9 weeks than you have learned in your lifetime. You will work with children from all walks of life and make life friends from all over the world amongst your fellow camp counselors.
  • Travel: All the agencies mentioned in our previous article factor in 30 days travel time into your US visa. You have the opportunity to travel across the US with friends you made whilst on camp.
  • Get more from your university degree: Whether you are a gap year student or doing work experience as part of your degree course, if you are doing a degree that relates to your camp role, American summer camp work is perfect practical experience. Your time in camp can also go towards your university credits (if offered by your university).
  • Develop your skill set: Once you get a placement in a US summer camp, you won’t just be thrown in at the deep end. These camps have been running many years and are professional outfits. Before the children arrive, you will be given in-depth training where you will learn lots of new skills as well as developing existing ones. Some camps offer further training if you want to push yourself to the next level but you may have to pay for this. Check with your agency.
  • Give your CV a boost: Companies who recruit university graduates love to see lots of extra curricular activities on your CV. What better than nine weeks working in the US on a summer camp with children, followed by 30 days travelling? It shows you’re up for most challenges.
Tips for your USA summer camp jobs application
Many students want US summer camp jobs so there’s a lot of competition for places. Whichever usa summer camp job agency you choose to apply through, there are lots of tips on their websites about how to make your application stand out from the rest. Some even offer a face to face service where you can pop in to ask for advice.

The main points to be sure you highlight is all your experience (if you have any) but most of all your enthusiasm about spending nine weeks on a US summer camp working with children. There’s no point highlighting your second to none football skills if you don’t demonstrate in your application how much you want to pass those skills on to children and young people. Agencies will try to place you in a summer camp that best benefits you and the children who attend. Tell them as much as you can about yourself and any experience you think might be useful.

Make sure any qualifications you have are current and if they’re not, get yourself on a refresher course. Agencies report that students with lifeguard qualifications are in high demand and get placed much quicker, so if you love the water, get yourself a lifeguard qualification. Any experience you have in your favourite sport or working with children in general, show evidence of this with photographs and if you have no experience, there’s no time like the present. Get out there and get yourself some.

Check your social media profile! Have you checked your Facebook privacy settings recently? These days, there’s a lot you can filter so that only your close friends can see what you really get up to as a student. Summer camps will check your social media presence. There’s no drinking or smoking allowed on camp and if all your photos are of you and friends getting up to student antics, either hide them or lose them! Summer camps want to see your role model status, not your latest boozy ‘achievements.’

Check your social media profile! Have you checked your Facebook privacy settings recently? These days, there’s a lot you can filter so that only your close friends can see what you really get up to as a student. Summer camps will check your social media presence. There’s no drinking or smoking allowed on camp and if all your photos are of you and friends getting up to student antics, either hide them or lose them! Summer camps want to see your role model status, not your latest boozy ‘achievements.’

Apply early. Applications open in September for the following summer and some agencies like to get their recruitment wrapped up by Christmas! Some allow applications as late as March but it is best to plan early if you want to secure american camp jobs.

Read about Camp America
Read about Wildpacks
Read about CCUSA
Read about Camp Leaders
Read about Americamp

Compare the costs and benefits of these companies here.
Camp America
Wild Packs
CCUSA
Camp Leaders
Americamp

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