Have you started to plan your summer yet? For many, the summer brings opportunities to do new things and explore new places; for some it’s a chance to earn an income, explore a new culture and a new way of life through travel.
There is one old saying that sticks to its word: “travel broadens the mind” and it’s so true. The best thing about it is that there is so many ways you can travel, from student visas to student exchanges. One of the must-sees on a students to-do list is the USA, and no, not because they want to provoke Trump and his ant-immigrations laws. They want to see the land of freedom and opportunity. What better way to do this than volunteering as a camp counsellor?
The benefits of becoming a camp counsellor is that you can go anywhere you want; you are not restricted to one state, camps are scattered throughout the USA. My experience was like relocating to the set of “Grownups.” The camp was located in Vermont in the state of New England and it was surrounded by trees and lakes. The nearest town to the camp was called Roxbury which may have well been a street. Fortunately for us, camp hired its mini vans to counsellors that had a full license and this enabled us to go to the bigger towns like Montpelier or cities like Burlington on our time off.
Working at camp is pretty much a full time role. You work five days a week with a two-day break. The kids you will work with come from many different backgrounds but are very talented in their own way and you become like their big brother or sister. The lay out of camp depends on the type of camp you choose. The camp that I was staying at was called a traditional camp so it had boys camp and girls camp. Each camp has their own washrooms, cabins and campfires. As I was based at a traditional camp, I got really close to nature with an early rise every morning. Getting up early in the morning in boy’s camp, feeling the American sunshine mixed with east coast humidity set the scene for a typical American dream. Ok, you may think I sound like a sales man here, and I do, but I have to give it credit when its due. There were some days when the weather didn’t live it up to its expectations; a word of caution if you are heading to East coast, prepare to witness a thunder storm that may seem the like world is ending, but rest assured it’s not.
The camp where I was placed was mainly a tennis camp with its founder, a former champion tennis player who takes pride in his coaching. Activities also included horse riding and soccer, mixed with a number of electives from basketball to swimming to drama. Sometimes you get an evening off, depends on your camp but don’t be surprised if you reject it as you will be too immersed in the fun of camp you won’t want to leave.
Being a counsellor does come with its responsibilities. Children’s group ages vary; you could be dealing with young children that are away from their family for the first time or teenagers who carry that all so familiar teenage attitude. Counsellors need to make sure that all children are cleaned, given their meals and in some cases brought to the nurse for their medication. Taking time out during camp is a must as you can get worn out very quickly, I would advise on your day off to travel, remember you’re in the USA opportunities are endless. Getting away from camp really helps you relax and prepare for your next week ahead. Enough about me; I’m sure the next question on your mind is where do I sign up?
How to get involved?
There is two ways of getting there; directly or applying through a hiring agency like USIT, Campleaders or Camp America. There are so many I can’t mention them all so I advise you to do a search on Google. Some camps won’t take direct applications so you will need to go with an agency. Agencies are very beneficial, they are like a personal travel agent and recruiter. They look after everything from sorting your VISA to booking your flight. They also provide training which is very beneficial.
Can I meet the camps beforehand?
Some agencies provide placement fairs; camp representatives will attend an event near you and carry out interviews and in some cases you may be placed on the same day. It’s great to attend these events as you can get great information and advice from experts.
How long does it take to get placed?
The length it takes to get placed can be from one week after you apply to a month before you leave but rest assured the agency will be doing their best to get you placed. You will be matched with a camp on the basis of your skills and experiences.
Is the pay good?
Pay can vary depending on your experience but don’t expect to be loaded leaving camp. You will need spending money. Best to bring 500- 1,000 dollars as a safety net in case you’re travelling after camp. If you are going for the money, it’s probably not for you.
Do I get training?
The camp you will be placed at does provide one-week induction training, you will get to know your colleagues through team building. The agency also provides a day’s training in a hotel covering everything you will need to know.
If you want to try a new experience and see the USA, be a camp counsellor and enjoy the experience because it will be one you won’t regret.