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The American Dream; Summer As A USA Camp Counselor

By Jessica Green

Posted: 20th July 2016 08:56

Maybe you watched Wet Hot American Summer when you shouldn’t have, or The Parent Trap was your favourite film growing up, either way you’ll have always wondered what going to a USA summer camp is like. Well now you can, and you can get paid for it too; the camp counselor program is one of the most popular summer employment choices for students and gap year takers around the globe. It’s also one of the most rewarding and adventurous decisions you could make (a heads up) it’s no walk in the park, in fact it’s one of the most challenging life experiences you could face. The initial application process to getting yourself on that plane to spending 7 weeks thousands of miles away from home looking after a bunk of crazy American children, it’s truly a life changing ride.

So for getting the most out of this incredible experience, iGap has prepared some advice for you!

Do your research

Not all camp counselor programs are the same and not all camps are the same, so do your research before you apply. There are a fair amount of popular sponshorship programs that all offer similar packages; Camp America, CCUSA, Americamp, Wild Packs, BUNAC are all accredited companies, however there are a few who offer better incentives, wages etc than others.

It is also important to think about the kind of camp you want to work at because there are so many! Girl’s camps, boy’s camps, camps for special needs, religious affiliated ones, agency camps and higher priced summer camps; you need to have a think about where you’d fit in the most. Whilst everybody has an ideal camp in mind, where you are placed depends entirely on your skills, suitability , experience and where the sponsors think you’d be best placed. Our best advice is to go with it! Even if you don’t get your desired place, be open minded and you will still have an incredible summer.

Brush up on your skills

Unless you are applying to be a ‘general counselor’ whose role is purely to look after the children, you will be assigned as a specialist counselor therefore to qualify you will have to offer up a certain amount of skills that you could contribute to every potential camp. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds,  but you will need to show that you have skills or at least a passion to teach your chosen activity at camp.

The first obstacle is impressing your sponsors – prove to them why you’d be a great Tennis Counselor – what previous experience do you have? Can you provide video evidence, certificates, a shining reference from your coach? They also want to see that you have at least some childcare experience; from babysitting to volunteering at a youth club to coaching the under 10’s football, the smallest amount can go a long way so leave nothing out!

Prepare (Even though nothing will ever prepare you)

Once you’ve successfully passed the interview stage and have been placed at a summer camp and you’ve endured the gruelling process of obtaining a Visa at the US Embassy, the easy part is done. Now comes the hard and fun part – flying out to the USA and spending a summer working and playing in one of the best summer environments.

It sounds daunting and maybe it is a little scary too. Yet there are so many ways you can prepare for this. For example, you could join online forums and meet like-minded camp counselors, maybe arrange to meet post-camp to road trip down Route 66? Join your camp’s Facebook group – this will inevitably happen, and it will put your mind at ease about these strangers who will very soon become your best friends! Also look to advice from previous camp counselors on topics such as packing lists and things to expect and in the meantime watch all the promotional videos online – it  will get you super excited for the summer ahead!

And finally, have fun.

Be yourself, work hard and you will be rewarded with some of the best work experience and lifelong memories you could hope to obtain from a summer job!