The COVID-19 pandemic has kept the world inside these past couple years and halted most travel abroad. Now that many travel restrictions are lifted, U.K. young people are ready to get back out there, see the world, and make up for lost time. But, despite travel restrictions being lifted, all of the normal barriers of traveling abroad still apply – expensive flights, visa requirements, and cash. That’s where AmeriCamp comes in. Learn more about how you can travel to the U.S., earn good money, and make lifelong memories as a U.S. camp counselor.
First Things First: What Is Summer Camp, and Why Is It Such an Important U.S. Tradition?
In its most basic form, summer camp is a place kids and teenagers go when school is out for the summer. But, to campers, camp counselors, and many Americans, camp is so much more than summer childcare.
Summer camps originated in the U.S. in the late 1800s and were a way for “city kids to spend their summers surrounded by nature.” It is clear from interviews with current and former campers that camp is not an easily forgotten experience.
Today, more than a century after the first American summer camps opened, people are going to camp in huge numbers. The American Camp Association notes that more than 14 million children and adults experience camp each summer.
Benefits of Becoming a Camp Counselor
So, why have American summer camps stuck around for so long, and what are the benefits to campers and counselors?
- Experiencing nature
- Fun activities
- Social connection
Spending time in nature not only reduces stress hormone production in humans, it also poses physical benefits, like lower blood pressure and heart rate. Sadly, the average American child spends just four to seven minutes a day outside. That is compared to over seven hours on screens!
Summer camp provides the perfect opportunity for campers and counselors alike to spend time outside and explore nature after months cooped up inside during school or university. Most American summer camps organize their days so that campers spend most of the day outside playing sports, swimming, or just enjoying nature.
Camps also often prohibit smart phones, iPads, and other screens for campers (counselors can often use their phones at night), making camp one of the only opportunities in the digital world to completely disconnect and spend a screen-free summer soaking in the sun.
Summer camp is chock full of activities morning, afternoon, and night. From sports and art to singing, nature exploration, adventure courses, swimming, writing, and more, there is never a dull moment at camp. With no smart phones or digital distractions, camp provides the ideal setting for campers and counselors to explore new passions and learn new skills.
Talk to any former camper or counselor, especially those who attended or worked at overnight camps, and they will say that their camp friends are friends for life. For many, summer camp is a chance to escape stressors at home and school, and enjoy the camaraderie and peacefulness of the shared camp experience.
With an entire summer of complete togetherness with no internet or family distractions, it is almost impossible not to make deep and lasting connections at camp as a camper or a counselor.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Camp Counselor?
Camp counselors make the entire camp experience possible, and none of the benefits above would be possible without great camp counselors.
While camp counselor duties change day-to-day, the ultimate goal is to create a life-changing experience for the campers. A typical day at a summer camp for a counselor at camp can be broken down into several categories:
- Preparations for campers
- Managing meals
- Organizing activities
- Down time
Preparations for Campers
In addition to taking care of themselves, the camp counselor is responsible for their group of campers. Typically, a camp counselor’s group of campers will sleep in the same cabin with the counselor. This means a counselor will be responsible for waking up campers, helping them prepare for the day, and letting them know when it’s time for lights out. Staying in the same cabin as the campers may also necessitate mediating arguments between campers, listening to camper fears, and comforting home-sick campers.
Meals are massively important at camp, especially after running around from activity to activity every day. Counselors eat with their campers, making sure everyone, including themselves, has enough to eat to fuel the day’s activities. Meal times are also a great opportunity to bond with campers and fellow counselors, learn about their lives, and tell them about yours.
Activities at camp are endless! Camp counselors will usher their cabin to and from activities all day. While some activities might be led by a specialist counselor, other activities are led by traditional counselors. Some activities might include swimming, art, nature skills, adventure courses, sports, and more. Plus, the activities don’t end when the sun goes down! Camp counselors should prepare to participate in storytelling by the campfire, talent shows, and flashlight scavenger hunts before bed.
There are two types of down time at camp – with campers and without campers. Down time with campers often includes chatting with campers in the cabin, playing card games, and reading. Down time without campers is whatever counselors want it to be! Most counselors spend night time catching up with family on the phone, chatting with their fellow counselors around the campfire, and making memories together.
Though the above list describes what typical days might look like for traditional camp counselors, “specialist” counselors may have a slightly different experience.
Specialist Camp Counselors: Role & Responsibilities
First things first – a specialist counselor is a counselor in charge of one activity for the entire camp. The specialist may or may not bunk with a group of campers, and will typically see all campers in a rotation throughout the week. For example, in AmeriCamp’s Day in the Life of a Specialist blog, a music team specialist describes how her day differs from traditional camp counselors.
In her experience, instead of being responsible for a cabin of campers, she led the music program at camp. This means that cabins of campers came to her station everyday to learn how to play instruments and put on musicals. Despite not having her own group of campers, she still made meaningful connections to the campers, eating meals and spending down time with them!
Do Camp Counselor Duties Change Based on the Camp?
There are dozens of different types of camps in the U.S. While many camps have a more general focus like the ones described above, specialty camps exist for everything from horseback riding to art, coding, language immersion, and more.
In addition to the typical duties of a summer camp counselor mentioned above, counselors at specialty camps may need to learn new skills and tackle challenges unfamiliar to general counselors. For example, AmeriCamp has Outdoor Adventure Specialists at adventure camps who train in and manage high ropes courses, climbing walls, and zip lines throughout the day.
Instead of shuttling his campers to and from different activities throughout the day, one AmeriCamp Outdoor Adventure Specialist noted that he managed the adventure course throughout the day, helping campers overcome their fears to experience the course.
According to the specialist, “I can truly say I have never felt such an amazing feeling than finally persuading a child to go down the zip wire, even though they are terrified…Imagine conquering your fears at this young age. This one push of the boundary could set this child up for life.”
Another example of a specialty summer camp is a camp for children with disabilities. AmeriCamp counselor Sophie notes that the biggest goal throughout her day as a camp counselor at a camp for disabled people is to make the day accessible, inclusive, and fun for all of her campers! This might include adapting activities or down time so all campers can participate. Sophie said that, “Watching your campers try things for the first time, develop new skills, build friendships, and overcome challenges will fill you with pride and happiness.”
AmeriCamp is always looking for counselors with the specialty skills below to fill roles at camps:
- Outdoor Adventure
- Extreme Sports
- Horse Riding
- Performing Arts
- Target Practice
- Circus Skills
If you are interested in putting your skills to use as a camp counselor, apply today.
Why Become a Camp Counselor in the U.S.?
Being a camp counselor is about so much more than childcare. It is about giving campers the summer of a lifetime. But, what about the counselors? Why should they spend their summer at camp?
Here are the top five reasons to spend a summer as a camp counselor in the U.S.:
- Make new friends from across the world
- Immerse yourself in U.S. culture
- Travel and experience life in the U.S.
- Make money
- Leave the logistics to AmeriCamp
Make New Friends from Across the World
There is no place like camp to make friends, even for the counselors. Counselors have a shared bond that is hard to replicate in normal life. Just like campers, counselors spend the entire day together, but unlike campers, counselors spend the entire summer at camp. That is a lot of time to build strong bonds. Counselors often bond over shared challenges and successes with campers, shared experiences, and stories from home. Plus, there is nothing like staying up late around the campfire after the campers have gone to sleep.
Immerse Yourself in U.S. Culture
Working as a camp counselor is an excellent way for U.K. young people to immerse themselves in U.S. culture. As noted above, camp is an revered American tradition. AmeriCamp counselors don’t just get to learn about the tradition, they get to experience and expand the tradition through their summer at camp.
Travel and Experience Life in the U.S.
Travel is a huge reason to become a camp counselor in the U.S. AmeriCamp counselors are placed at camps all over the U.S., allowing counselors to experience the state they are placed in. Plus, counselors have up to 30 days after camp ends, based on their visa, to travel around the U.S. with their new friends!
AmeriCamp counselors make at least $2000 for the summer at camp. This money allows counselors to afford to travel around America after camp, making even more memories!
Leave the Logistics to AmeriCamp
Logistics can often foil abroad travel plans. AmeriCamp takes the stress out of abroad travel, making it easy to travel to the U.S. for an extended amount of time while making a salary. AmeriCamp helps counselors through the visa process, and provides everything counselors need to stay safe and have fun for the summer. It is rare to find another opportunity for this type of travel and immersion.
Resources to Become a Camp Counselor in the U.S.: Application Requirements, Process, and Costs
The logistics of going abroad – visas, health insurance, money, etc. – can often hinder young people from traveling abroad. The AmeriCamp Program takes care of everything, helping young people from the U.K. have the best summer of their lives as camp counselors in the U.S. Learn more about the application process and what is included in the AmeriCamp experience below!
- Age: Applicants must turn 18 by June 1 of the summer they plan to be a camp counselor.
- Qualifications: The only true qualification applicants need is a desire to work with children to give them the best summer of their lives! Additional qualifications like specialty skills, lifeguarding, etc. are great, and may influence the type of camp at which counselors are placed.
- Availability: Counselors should be available from early-June to mid-August.
- Deadlines: Applicants can apply up to May of the year they wish to be a counselor at a summer camp.
- Pre-Interview: Fill out an application form (should take about 60 minutes).
- Ready to Hire: Conduct an interview with AmeriCamp at the Manchester HQ or in your hometown or college campus. Skype is also an option. Interviews are casual and a great chance to chat with someone who has participated in AmeriCamp! Candidates will also make a video introducing themselves, their personalities, and skills. The video is a great tool to convince camp directors that counselors are the perfect fit for their camp!
- Placed: Camp directors will review applications and choose applicants to work at their camps. Counselors are placed based on their skills and unique experiences! Counselors will most likely learn about their placement via email, so make sure to check frequently. AmeriCamp has a 99% placement rate so don’t worry if the application is taking a bit longer to reach the right camp director – AmeriCorps will get counselors placed!
What’s Included in the AmeriCamp Experience
- Timeline: 9 weeks working at a U.S. summer camp from early-June to mid-August. Spend up to 30 days after camp traveling around the U.S.!
- Money: AmeriCamp counselors are guaranteed to make at least $2000 for the summer!
- Accommodation + Meals: Counselors will have all meals and accommodation provided for the entire camp placement.
- Insurance: AmeriCamp counselors will receive comprehensive medical insurance during their time at camp.
- Assistance: Camp counselors will have access to AmeriCamp’s 24-hour U.S. emergency helpline.
- Visa Process: AmeriCamp will help counselors through the entire J-1 visa process
- Experience of a Lifetime: Counselors are placed at camps all over the country to have their most memorable summer yet!
What’s Not Included in the AmeriCamp Experience
- Costs: There are some costs associated with the program including the application fees, flights, embassy fee, and criminal background check.
How Do I Hire AmeriCamp Counselors for My U.S. Summer Camp?
AmeriCamp provides U.S. camps with highly qualified applicants, customer centric account managers, 24/7 support, and tech driven matching. AmeriCamp’s counselors have myriad skills and experiences, and are ready to bring their passions to summer camp.
Camps in the U.S. who would like to hire AmeriCamp counselors should visit the program information page.
Have the Best Summer of Your Life: Apply To Be a Summer Camp Counselor
Applications for summer 2023 are open now! AmeriCamp has an answer to all of your questions from how to apply for camp counselor positions to what to pack. Learn more about how to become a summer camp counselor in the U.S. by visiting our FAQs. Once your questions are answered, apply now!