Congratulations! If you are reading this you are considering taking the first step to the best summer of your life. To get started you need to be sure you meet all the eligibility criteria that are mentioned below. The next step is choosing a VISA sponsor company to help you get to America.
You need to be 18 by June 1st, love working with children and have a positive attitude.
You need to be 18 by June 1st to apply.
Most companies will stop taking new applications for the upcoming season around March/April and concentrate on getting those who have already applied placed at a camp.
If you know you are 100% wanting to go to camp you should apply as soon as possible. If you are still in the research phase and still undecided you should gather as much information as you can to help you make an educated decision of whether going to camp is a viable option for you.
Yes, absolutely, you will be circulating longer and more camps will get the chance to browse through your application. The more camps that see your application the better chance you have of being placed. There are also more positions earlier on in the recruiting season, as the season goes on more and more of those places are filled.
Yes, you need to be able to communicate effectively with the children in your care. Many of the people at camp whose first language isn’t English occupy the Support Staff roles.
It is not a 100% deal breaker but it is looked upon extremely favourably. If you have experience working with children the chance of getting placed will increase dramatically.
Most companies won’t accept joint applications. The most popular method of getting placed at the same camp as a friend is to attend the recruitment job fairs and target the same camps. Although camp is about new experiences and stepping out of your comfort zones. The camps that do have existing friends at camp they are often continually associated together for everything. It definitely has an effect on your experience.
You don’t need a passport to start your application but you will need to a passport in most cases before you application starts circulating out to camps.
No-one can 100% guarantee a placement. The ones that do are extremely selective in whom they take on as applicants and even then nothing is 100% certain. Many companies will offer a full refund if you are not placed at a Summer Camp.
You have the option to request a camp that you would like your application sent to but it does not guarantee you a placement. You can also choose the type of camp you get placed at but generally speaking no you cannot choose which camp you go to. It is luck of the draw.
If this is a big concern of yours you should aim to attend one of the recruiting job fairs where you get to meet the camps face to face before making your decision.
All reputable VISA sponsor companies will give you a full refund if you are not placed.
Applying as a support staff member has different criteria for eligibility and you would need to check you were eligible before applying. If eligible you will need to make the decision of whether you want to work with the children or behind the scenes.
No, you do not need to be a student to be hired as a Camp counselor.
Yes, the positions are not all based on the activities you can teach. Camps are looking for general counselors who work well with children.
Yes, you will need to supply a criminal record check as part of your application as you are working with children.
This is assessed on a case by case basis. You can ring the company you plan on going through, explain your situation and they will give you a quick answer on whether or not you would be eligible for their program.
There are some medical conditions which will make you ineligible for the program. These are often assessed on a case by case basis. You will need to ring your chosen VISA sponsor agency and they will be able to give you a quick answer on whether or not you would be eligible.
We have several online communities of camp counselors who are always willing to share their experiences. Most of the VISA sponsor companies will have information sessions you can attend to find out more about camp
Yes, drop into our online communities and ask away. If you have questions aimed at a particular VISA sponsor company you should ring them directly.
Camps are looking for a huge variety of skills and attributes. The biggest one is you work well with kids. The second is good experience in the skill or position you are highlighting on your application and the third is a positive attitude.
The list goes on and on for skills, if you have a unique talent or skill then camp wants to know about it!
No you do not need qualifications to apply however it does help by strengthening your application in the skill you want to highlight.
The program is generally between 8-10 weeks, some camps may be slightly shorter or slightly longer.
No, you need to be able to commit to the Summer program so if you don’t have the availability then it is not worth applying.
The absolutely latest most companies will consider your availability for is June 20. If you aren’t available before then you won’t be considered eligible.
There are thousands of camps across the country and a camp in every State of America. Going to a Summer Camp is highly ingrained in the American culture.
A lot of the single sex camps have brother sister camps close by. You can request not willing to accept a placement at a single sex camp through some VISA sponsor agencies.
Yes! Special needs camps have a high ratio of staff to campers so they are always searching for people who are really passionate about working with special needs campers. They provide you with all the training you need and while past experience is always preferred it is not mandatory.
Yes, if you would prefer to go to a faith based camp you can definitely put this as a preference in your application. There are differing degrees of faith based camps with some strict faith based camps, Jewish Camps, and the YMCA camps which have a Christian foundation.
Every VISA sponsor company has different prices and they all incorporate different things. We will be doing a review on all agencies very soon.
This will be different for everyone and typically girls spend a lot more than the guys. You should have at least 300USD accessible to you whilst in America. If you plan on traveling after camp in the 30 days you should take around $3,000-$5,000. This is a general estimation and you can definitely travel for a lot cheaper if you are just planning on staying with friends.
Yes, going to camp is not a volunteer position it is a paid position. Your pocket money depends on a lot of factors such as your age, experience, what agency you applied through and whether or not your flights were included.
Your program fees cover all the admin work, the application fee, the VISA sponsorship, the processing of documents and the medical insurance.
The interview process is a chance for your interviewer to get to know you, measure your suitability for the program, ask you questions about your skill set and experience and why you want to participate in the Summer Camp experience.
You will be interviewed by a representative of the company you have chosen to sponsor your VISA application. Your interviewer will typically have been to camp at least twice, have a very good knowledge of all things camp related and will be able to answer all the questions you have about camp based on their own experiences.
Yes you will need to make your first payment before an interview can take place. The interviewers put a lot of time into organising interviews; reviewing your applications and helping you make the changes needed to have the best chance of getting placed. The interviewers also get paid for the interviews so most companies require that you make your initial payment before you are able to have an interview.
No these are not formal interviews, they are more meet and greets to help you with your application, ask you some relevant questions and ensure the company who is going to sponsor your VISA is sending someone over who is suitable for the program. Even though it isn’t a formal interview you should still dress smart casual for your interview.
Yes, everyone needs to attend an interview to ensure they are suitable for the program. All VISA sponsor companies value their reputations and want to maintain a reputation for sending over high quality applicants. Some companies will allow Skype interviews.
Your local interviewer will usually organise an interview at a public venue such as a café. Some companies also offer interview days where they will have a group of interviewers attend an event and advertise it to potential applicants. Some companies will allow Skype interviews.
The interview is like catching up with a friend that has heaps of questions. I hope you like talking about yourself because you are going to be doing a lot of it!
If you haven’t heard from your interviewer you need to contact them directly via email or phone. If you get no response you need to ring the company that you are applying through and let them know you haven’t heard anything and would like a new interviewer assigned to you.
An interview day is where a group of interviewers will all gather at a single event and they get through as many interviewers as they can. I would recommend avoiding these and setting up an interview the traditional way. Interviewers have to write up a report on you post interview and if they are interviewing up to 10 other people on the same day it could impact the quality of their report if they have not taken high quality notes.
You will need to be back in the country at some point to get your paperwork sorted out. If you won’t be back in the country you will need to apply through a company in the country you are currently residing in.
This varies a lot depending on your interviewer. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours in extreme cases. They are typically 45 minutes to an hour.
You need to download the relevant forms from the company you are applying through and go to your doctor to get the medical form filled out.
Yes, you will need to fill out a medical for to support your initial application and also once you are placed at a camp that camp will want their own medical forms filled out as part of your employment. On some occasions you can used the medical form you have filled out for you application and send that through to your camp.
No, just make sure it is done well and truly before your departure date. It is best to get it done as early as possible.
Yes, a medical form is mandatory to participate in the program.
Camp directors will contact you via their preferred method based on the contact details on your application. The methods of communication include email, phone call or Skype call.
Absolutely, some people will tell you no, just be yourself everything will be fine. If it is a camp you want to be placed at you will do the extra work and learn about that camp, their beliefs, mottos and who they cater for. Going into your phone interview unprepared is a huge opportunity wasted.
Yes most camps will contact you. On the rare occasion a camp will hire you directly off your application without contacting you. If you have contacted a camp directly asking if they have any places available, don’t expect to hear back.
Yes! Not only do the Camp Directors look at your social media profiles for inappropriate content, comments, photos or offensive behaviour, your interviewers will also check these social media presences before your interview. Applicants do lose their places for inappropriate social media content. Change your privacy settings or remove anything that will cause a camp to question your ability to look after children in your care.
Every company that you ask will ask you not to contact camps directly. As an independent resource at The Camp Zone we recommend contact a camp by every means possible, email, Facebook, Twitter. Get your name out there and let them know which organisation you are applying through. Keep in mind if your emails are not short and to the point they will not be read.
Camp Job fairs are where Camp Directors and representatives fly over from America and hire you are the job fair events. Not every company runs these events but the large events can have hundreds of camps attend. It is a great opportunity to meet directors in person and get placed.
Depending on the situation you will lose you initial deposit. If it is a server medical condition that is preventing you from attending camp you may be entitled to a refund depending on the terms and conditions you agreed to when choosing the company you are applying through.
Camp may send out to the same packages to all staff regardless whether they are international or not. You will not have to fill out the immigration forms as you will have a VISA. In some cases you may have to fill out the US Tax forms.
By far the biggest hold up is an incomplete application and missing references. After your interview you should follow up with your interview regularly, you may thing you are annoying them but it is best to be on their back as some interviewers are known to take weeks to complete their reports.
Inside TIP at the end of your interview say to your interviewer “I know you have to write a report on my post interview, can you message me when you have finished it so I can follow up with the office anything else I need to complete.” It shows initiative and the interview will generally put in the extra effort.
There are some horrible photos circulating. No hats, no sunglasses and make sure you are smiling. They should be able to see your face clearly.
Perfect question, the fact you jumped to this question shows you are out to impress. We have an amazing guide coming soon to show you exactly how to make your application stand out. But start with an amazing video and detailed history of your working with children history
Your video should have a quick introduction to yourself, highlight your main skills and explain why you want to go to a Summer Camp.
2-3 minutes. Be quick and summarize you key qualities. Some applicants have been known to produce videos up to 10 minutes. It is way too long and if a director feels like you have wasted their time more often than not you won’t get a second look in.
This question is asked so many times and we are producing a full guide that even the non-techy applicants can follow.
It typically follows these steps
You apply through your chosen VISA sponsor company and pay your first payment
You complete you application online and organise an interview
Once you have passed the interview your application will go into a pool for Camp Directors to view
Camps will contract you directly from this point with job offers.
There is no set time period to be placed. You could be placed in 1 week it could take several months. It is very dependent on the skills you have, your experience and at time it comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
No you are not forced to accept you place, however if you are offered a place and you reject it most companies will not give you a refund if you are unable to find another placement.
Yes, you must always go through this application as the company sponsoring your VISA must screen all their applicants thoroughly. It is a child protection measure.
The only exception is if the camp hiring you is sponsoring your VISA as well.
You can call your VISA sponsor company to discuss this. Many applicants will base whether they are going to like a camp or not from the exterior images. Camp is all about the people you are spending the Summer with and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t forget that.
Firstly, congratulations on your placement! Jewish Camps are just like any other camps, the kids are the same as any other kid and they do the same activities. The differences you may notice as the way they prepare food and they will not eat pork or bacon. If a Jewish Camp hires you they know you are not Jewish before they hire you so it is nothing to be concerned about.
The Camp that has contacted you directly will inform you or you will be notified through the portal of the company you are applying through.
Congratulations! Next you have a lot of paperwork to work through, you can expected your VISA paperwork to arrive from the company you are applying through soon and you need to arrange your US Embassy appointment and complete any other paperwork required of you. If you are getting your own flights now is the perfect time to start looking for cheap flights.
If after every effort you aren’t placed assuming you went through a reputable VISA sponsor company you will get a full refund on your program fees.
No, the pocket money at camp is based on age, experience and whether or not your flights were included in your program fees. Everyone will be paid different amounts. Returners can negotiate their own pocket money with Camps when returning for another year.
References should be from employers, teachers, tutors, coaches, and figures of authority or someone who can provide a reference in your experience with working with children. Your reference should have known you for at least 6 months and all references must be in English.
This differs slightly through the different companies it is generally 2-3 references.
The accommodation does vary drastically from camp to camp depending what type of camp you are working at.
These accommodation arrangements are usually communal living with shared facilities.
Every camp is different but most fall into the following categories for camp type:
Special needs camps
Activity based camps such as sports or performing arts
Not for profit camps
Girl Scout camps
At most camps the general age of the campers is between 5-17 years old. You will get some camps where the children are younger and special needs camps can have campers of all ages.
If you are having this problem you need to talk to the company that is sponsoring your VISA to gather all your options. It is very rare that anyone swaps camps but in exceptional circumstances it may be able to be arranged.
You get hired usually for a specific task or role at your camp which makes it extremely hard to swap department as you will leave a void in the staffing roster. You need to prevent this from happening by getting a proper job description from the camp before accepting your placement and to understand what your role will be before you commit to a whole summer at the camp.
Every camp is different and different jobs will do completely different things at various camps. For example if you are hired as a life guard you might be life guarding the water for 6 hours a day but some camps you may only be guarding the water for a 1 hour swim time.
If you are a skilled counselor you will be teaching the activity you were hired to teach
If you are a general counselor you will be looking after the children
Every counselors job is to ensure that the children are having as much fun as possible and a great Summer Camp experience.
7am wake up
7am-7:30am cabin clean and bathroom stop
7:45am Flag raising
8:45am Morning Activities
12pm Lunch time
1pm Cabin time
1:45pm Afternoon activities
4:45pm Free time
7pm Even Program
9pm Camp Fire
10:30pm Lights out.
All the companies sponsoring VISA applicants will have their own protocols for emergency situations.
You will need to contact your VISA sponsor company to discuss your options. They will be able to assist you.
The food varies from camp to camp. All food at the large camps is prepared in bulk and is either served buffet style or family style. Depending on your kitchen staff and resources they can also have special occasion international food days, BBQ’s, eat outs, burger bars.
It is important to eat while you can at camp. You are on your feet all day an expending a lot of energy.
Yes, it dependent on the camp you are at. Most camps give you 1 day off a week. The day camps typically have the afternoons off.
Not always, it is dependent on the camps schedule. Many of the Camps where the kids come for the week the counselors will get some sort of break over the weekend.
Yes if you are not required at Camp then you can enjoy your free periods as long as it is not disrupting any other aspects of camp. Most of the free time you get will be spent resting as camp does take a lot out of your physically, mentally and emotionally.
Some camps do have these facilities and some are completely cut off. It is luck of the draw.
Yes, you can take your medication. The medication needs to be kept out of reach from the children so your camp medical team will usually store all medications throughout the summer.
The policies on these issues change from camp to camp. As a general rule it is highly discouraged and at many camps forbidden.
Camp counselors are working directly with the camps. The support staff work behind the scenes in the office, kitchen, security, maintenance to ensure the camp functions on a daily basis.
You can be pretty confident that if a camp hires you as an international member of staff there will be several others as well from all over the world.
This situation will vary based on where you are located and whether flights are included or not. You need to do your research and find to find the most cost effective method of transport. If your flights are included in your program the flights are typically a lot cheaper.
For international travel you should arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before departure. It is better to be safe than sorry.
If you are booking your flights through the organisation sponsoring your VISA they will give you all the relevant details. If you are booking your own flight you book it just like any other flight. Sky Scanner is a great place to start out looking for cheap air fares.
This differs for every airline. Typically it’s between 22-24kgs. Keep in mind if you have a travel pack you will be carrying it a lot. Don’t over pack.
This is different for every company and it also depends where you are traveling to. You will need to refer to your VISA sponsor company for further information on this. Your camp will also assist you in getting to camp from the airport.
No, when traveling to America you must have an onward ticket out of the country.
You should definitely have this opportunity. Many of the companies have predeparture days where they run you through everything you need to know before you leave including child protection policies, what to expect when you are over there, what to do if you need help ect. and there will be many other applicants at these events.
By far one of the most asked questions. We have a huge post coming with everything you need for camp so stay tuned!
There will be many different opinions on this with most companies telling you that you won’t need it. We asked Jimmy who has experience on different years both with and without a computer.
“The first year I didn’t take it, I was heavily reliant on other people for booking flights after camp and other basic means of communication home. The second year I took my laptop, just a cheap and small laptop that didn’t cost much. It took a lot of stress out of organising travel after camp just having that option.”
Yes, however big or small if it is viable to carry it around the country with you then you can take it. Be sure to confirm with your camp before you start packing all your equipment some camps may have strict rules that only their supplied equipment is to be used.
Yes, It is a quick way to pass the time in the airport having a chat to other camp counselors that are about to spend their Summer in America working in Summer Camps.
This is completely personal preference. You need to consider what is best for the amount of traveling you will be doing and the places you will be going.
The company who is sponsoring your VISA can’t take responsibility for your late change of plans. If you withdraw from the program or your new availability makes to ineligible to attend the camp you were placed at, more often than not you won’t be entitled to a refund.
If you are bringing valuable belongings then yes you should get travel insurance. Many of the companies will have an option to use their travel insurance. Keep in mind that baggage insurance and medical insurance are different things.
Yes, you are required to have medical insurance as part of your J-1 Cultural Exchange program.
Contact your insurance provider whether it be your VISA sponsor company or your own insurer to discuss these details.
Yes, but keep in mind the policy must meet the requirements of the US government for participants on the J-1 Cultural Exchange program. You can read more on the requirements here
Most if not all VISA sponsors will have medical insurance included as it is a requirement for the program.
Simply contact the company you have the insurance through and they will be able to assist you.
This will be different for every policy. You will need to confirm with your insurer what is covered.
This will depend on your policy. Most insurance will cover you until your flight out of America but you will need to confirm with your insurance provider.
As a general rule of thumb it is a condition that manifested itself or existed within the 3 months prior to taking out medical insurance.
You can start your VISA application once you have been placed at a Summer Camp, your references have been checked and approved and your federal police check has cleared. The organisation you are applying to go to camp through will send you your VISA DS-2019 forms.
You then need to book a J-1 VISA appointment with your closest US Embassy and you will receive confirmation via email of your appointment directly from the US Embassy.
You need to attend a face-to-face interview with a representative at the US Embassy.
The company organising your VISA should send you out a detailed list of everything you need for your VISA appointment however if they haven’t this is what you will need:
A printout of your appointment confirmation email from the US Embassy
A print out of your payment receipt that came with your appointment email
Your DS-160 form that you completed online prior to the Embassy appointment. Make sure the barcode is visible on the printout
Your DS-2019 form signed and dated
Your SEVIS I-901 Fee, you will need to print this yourself
Documentary evidence/proof of return documents.
Your VISA photo
After you have been placed at a camp and received your VISA documents you can then book a VISA appointment. You can book these appointments online on your national US Embassy websites.
US Embassies are located all over the world. Use this official list of embassies from the US Department of State to help you find the closest Embassy to you. http://www.usembassy.gov/
You should look at booking your VISA appointment as soon as you have received your placement at a Summer Camp and your VISA paperwork. Appointments can be limited so schedule your appointment as early as possible.
Please call the organisation sponsoring your VISA to discuss your options depending on why it was denied. Some companies have a no-refund policy if your VISA application is denied.
This step is important as it can be the deciding factor in granting a VISA or not. The important document if you can obtain it is a letter from your employer if possible. Other supportive documents include:
A detailed letter detailing your plans upon returning home
Mobile phone contracts
Student Finance letters to state that you are required to pay your student loan off
Utility Bills or tenancy agreements
No you cannot extend your Camp VISA. You can leave the country and come back in on a tourism VISA if you want to continue your travels.
It really depends how busy the Embassy is on the day. It could take 30 minutes or you could be in there for several hours waiting for your interview. Take a book to read or something to pass the time just in case.
This can vary depending on the country you are in. As a rough guide it can take 2-3 business days to process your application and another 2-3 business days to return your passport and in some cases up to 2 weeks. Make sure you leave plenty of time to complete this process, do not wait for the last minute.
No you can only ever have one J-1 VISA issued at any one time.
The first part of your VISA application is paid online before you go to the Embassy. The second payment is paid directly to the Embassy after the VISA has been granted.
The J-1 VISA is valid for a maximum of 4 months. You typically get a 30 day grace period either side of your start and end date to enter or exit the country.
No, your VISA sponsor will be unable to print your VISA papers until you have a confirmed placement at a Summer Camp.
The J-1 VISA is not a general work permit. You can only work at other Summer Camps in a Camp Counselor position after the completion of your original camp contract. No other work is permitted. If you are a Support Staff member you can work other jobs within your original VISA dates.
Your DS-2019 are the forms provided to you by your VISA sponsor to attend your J-1 VISA appointment.
You just need to state the city or town you currently live in at the time of signing the form.
Yes this does matter. Your DS-2019 must match the exact details on your passport. You need to contact your VISA sponsoring agency immediately and update your details.
The DS-160 form is NOT sent out to you. This form is obtained by completing the online DS-160 form prior to your US Embassy appointment.
When you are completing the DS-160 form online you will come to a section where you need to upload your photo. If it isn’t working you will need the upload to fail 3 times before being able to progress to the next step. If you do skip the photo upload step you will need to bring a US Passport sized photo (2x2 inches) to your J-1 VISA interview. Bring an additional spare photo just in case.
Yes you have a grace period of 30 days before your start date.
No, you will not need an ESTA. An ESTA is a tourism VISA the only VISA you require to work at a Summer Camp is the J-1 VISA.
Yes you will need to a new one to meet VISA requirements.
You will need to get a new passports and rebook your VISA appointment at the Embassy.
Definitely, this just means you don’t require a VISA. If you have an American Passport you can apply to the Camps directly with no need for a VISA sponsor.
You receive a unique number when you register into the Student Exchange Visitor’s database. This is known as your SEVIS ID.
Yes, you a new experience at a different camp is always welcome. Most of the time you will be treated like a new applicant and have to go through an interview process again, as well as provide a reference from your previous camp.
Yes you are required to go to a face-to-face interview for all your VISA requirements. Depending on your location if you have had an interview previously they may let you mail in all your documents to the Embassy and this would spare you the face-to-face visit.
If you are returning to the same camp it is not required with most VISA sponsor companies. If you want to return to a different camp you will need new references and a reference from your previous camp.
It is dependent on the organisation you go through but more often than not it is a lot cheaper to go to camp as a returner and you usually get paid more than your first year too.
Yes, if the camp is willing to offer you another placement you can definitely go back to the same camp
This is dependent on whether or not your camp hires through a different company. Some camps hire from multiple companies but many camps have a preferred company they prefer to work with and will not hire from other companies.
If your camp hires from multiple companies and it is cheaper to use another company you should definitely explore your options.
Yes, you can go to Canada after Camp. Keep in mind that once you leave on your J-1 VISA there is a chance you will not be granted entry back into America. You will need to get an ESTA if you plan on coming back into America.
Yes, you have a 30 day grace period at the end of your VISA to exit the country and within that 30 days you can travel anywhere within America that you want to go.
Yes, you can travel before Camp. You also have a grace period to entry the country as well.
Yes, you can travel with whoever you like before and after Camp.
Yes, you can leave the country after you have finished at Camp. If you need to come back into the country you will need to apply for an ESTA which is very quick to obtain.
We are currently compiling a huge list of everywhere to see in America. Some must see tourist attractions are the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.
If you have a licence you can drive in America. You will save a lot of money on rental cars if you have a driver that is 25 years old or older.
Camp counselors frequently flock to hostels. It is a cheap and effective way to travel and a great way to meet new people.