This summer, work at an American summer camp with CIEE’s Camp Exchange USA! As a camp counselor on CIEE’s Camp Exchange USA program, you will spend up to ten weeks in the great outdoors, gaining new skills, learning to be a leader and experiential educator, and making friendships that last a lifetime. Plus, you will have 30 days following the camp experience to travel the country, taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes that make America unique!
*Energetic, fun loving and happy in a highly active environment?
*Flexible, dependable and reliable?
*Respectful of others and their cultures
*Skilled at leadership and working with others?
Then Camp Exchange USA may be right for you!
Here are some tips to help make your application as strong as possible!
There are a wide range of personalities, experience levels, and skills that can make an applicant a great candidate for the program. But there are ways to make your application stand out from the crowd. The best applications demonstrate your past experience, unique skills, and passion for learning about the U.S. in great detail.
HERE ARE JUST A FEW TIPS FOR ENSURING YOUR APPLICATION IS COMPREHENSIVE AND COMPELLING:
Demonstrate your flexibility – whether it’s your dates of availability, the types of camps you’re open to working with, or the activities you’re willing to teach, the more flexible you are, the higher the chance you will be placed with a camp.
Highlight your experience with kids – whether it’s from babysitting, teaching swimming lessons, or something else, tell us how you have worked with kids in the past and why you want to work with them this summer at camp. Don’t forget to mention what ages you have worked with, in what capacity you worked, and how long/often you worked with them.
List unique skills – camps are always looking for counselors with specialized skills like archery, sailing, or horseback riding. When writing about your skills, be sure to include current qualifications and/or certifications, how long you have been involved in the skill, if you have taught the skill to others (even if it wasn’t to kids), and what specific aspects of the skill you can teach. And remember, you don’t have to be an expert to teach some activities and skills to kids.
Explain why you’d make a great counselor – maybe working with kids is your life’s goal or you love discovering new cultures. Whatever the reason, tell us why you want to be a camp counselor and what you will bring to the camp experience.
Be as detailed as possible – camps want to know as much about you, your experience, and your skills as possible so be sure to use up every character available. Plus, the more you tell us, the better picture we’ll have of you, your interests, and your experience—and that means it will be easier for us to find the right camp to place you in.
Be mindful of the quality of your writing – watch out for spelling, grammar, and the overall standard of your written English. We have to decide if you’re right for CIEE Camp Exchange USA based on the information you provide, so be sure your application reads like you have dedicated your full time and attention to it.
Add photos and/or videos – a smiling, happy headshot with a few carefully selected (and appropriate) photographs of you participating in the activities you have written about and/or images of you working with kids can make your application stand out. Making a short (1-2 minute) video about yourself can go even further! Introduce yourself, show off your personality and demonstrate all the aspects of your written application on film. Remember, we want to clearly know it’s you in the photos or video, so don’t include images with lots of people in them.
If you follow these guidelines, you will be on your way to submitting an outstanding application and one step closer to the camp experience!
Just picture it: horseback riding, rock climbing, and sailing all in the same day. Staying up late telling ghost stories with campers by the campfire. Hiking to a private lake nestled in the woods.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of kids ages five to 17 attend summer camp at the thousands of camps located in rural areas across the U.S. The specific activities may vary from camp to camp, but an atmosphere of fun, friendship, and discovery stays the same. Whether the campers attend for one week or eight, campers and counselors alike have the chance to try new activities each day, learn important skills individually and as a group, and make friendships that last a lifetime.
The majority of placements are in traditional camps—which can be co-ed or serve only female or male campers—where many different activities are offered, from arts and crafts to archery. For many families, it’s a long-held tradition for children to attend the same summer camp their siblings, parents, or even grandparents did when they were young, creating a unique and close community atmosphere.
Here are just a few of the other types of camps in the U.S. that you may be placed in:
These camps are affiliated with a social or advocacy agency that assists with funding. Many serve co-ed campers—from all walks of life—in the same facility, on separate campuses, or through different sessions for boys and girls. These camps can range from very rustic to traditional in their cabins and buildings. Many agency camps appear to be similar to private camps, but often follow a mission aligned with the affiliated agency.
These camps only serve female campers and are often run in one- to two-week sessions throughout the course of the summer. Girl Scout camps are generally focused on building wilderness skills and participating in “outdoorsy” activities. Most Girl Scout camps use primitive tent cabins for their housing.
These camps—run or sponsored by outside community groups—often serve low-income campers from inner cities or extremely rural backgrounds. These camps are often quite rustic in nature as they are dependent on philanthropic organizations and other groups for funding.
Most of these camps are affiliated with either the Christian or Jewish faiths and incorporate both religious and non-religious activities. The emphasis on religion varies greatly from camp to camp.
These camps focus on a particular sport or activity like horseback riding, sailing, or theater. Specialty camps may also serve specific populations such as campers who have ADHD or have suffered a loss.
These camps serve campers with one or more disabilities including those who are emotionally, mentally, or physically disabled. Specialty needs camps often offer the most challenging camp experience, yet can be the most rewarding. Many of these camps serve more than one type of disability, serving campers with a range of mental and physical disabilities during one session or specializing in one disability each session.
When you choose to work at a summer camp, you are dedicating yourself to up to nine weeks of fun and hard work as you strive to ensure campers have an engaging and valuable summer camp experience.
During your time in the U.S., your camp will be your home away from home—where you eat, sleep, work, and relax—alongside your assigned group of campers or with your peers. You will generally have one day off a week, which offers a chance to leave camp grounds and explore the local community. But don’t worry about missing out on any of the fascinating sights and exciting activities that America has to offer. You will have lots more time to explore the U.S. after the camp experience.
Each day at camp will be a little different, but will always be full of new experiences and challenges. The hours are long, but rewarding, as you make lifelong friendships, gain real-world work experience, and make a difference in campers’ lives.
BE A CAMP COUNSELOR
The fees depend on which programme you choose:
University students, graduates, and non-students between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible for the program. All applicants must have experience working with kids, leadership experience, and/or skills and experience in a general range of activities offered at summer camps.
Visa regulations state that participants must be 18 at the time they fly to the U.S. CIEE does not accept applications from people who are not 18 by June 1.
You must be available for nine weeks, leaving for the U.S. no later than June 20th. Preference is given to applicants who are available at an earlier date and for longer periods of time. For the best chance of placement, applicants should be available between the dates of June 1 and August 25.
No, to be eligible for the program, you must be able to commit to the full nine weeks.
You must have experience working with kids and/or hold skills relevant to the activities typically offered at U.S. summer camps. You could be a student, teacher, sports instructor, or youth worker.
The earlier you apply, the earlier you will receive a placement. Applications are accepted mid-August through March 1.
Yes, please follow the normal application process and include the CIEE Placement Agreement Form your camp has given you with your application materials. You must make sure your camp is currently a partner of CIEE Camp Exchange USA. If the camp is not currently working with us, please have your camp director email us at email@example.com.
We strive to secure you a placement as soon as possible. However, it takes time (sometimes weeks, sometimes months) to find the right placement for you. The earlier you apply, the better your chance for an early placement. Additionally, the more flexible you are about the type of camps you’re willing to work at and your dates of availability, and the more extensive your skills and experience with kids, the better your chances for a quick placement. CIEE begins placing participants in October for the following year..
Camps can start at any time between May 25 and June 25. Your departure for camp will depend on your travel availability and your camp contract dates.
You are not allowed to smoke or drink at camp or on any camp property, and are not allowed to return to camp intoxicated. Smoking and drinking off camp grounds are both greatly discouraged, and each camp will have their own policy on these issues. Please remember, you are working with kids and should act as a role model for all campers by acting appropriately at all times, even on your days off. If you break any smoking or drinking rules during your time at camp, you may be fired. NOTE: The drinking age throughout the U.S. is 21.
At camp, you will be working directly with kids and should always act as a role model for the campers. Be sure to always look presentable, meaning no torn or revealing clothes. Each camp will have its own policy regarding appropriate clothing at camp.
While at camp, you will have an average of one day off a week, as well as brief periods of time off during each day and one to two evenings off during the week. Each camp organizes time off differently and it is at their discretion.
The J-1 visa provides non-U.S. citizens with the opportunity to share their culture by working in the U.S. for a temporary period. This visa is required to work as a camp counselor or as a member of the support staff through the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program.
A DS-2019 form is your cultural exchange visa paperwork, which shows your eligibility for a J-1 visa. CIEE will provide you with this form.
SEVIS stands for the Student Exchange Visitor Information System used by the U.S. Department of State to track all persons on student and exchange visitor visas in the country. All participants on the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program will be registered in the SEVIS system. There is a $35 SEVIS fee, which is included in your program fees.
Your insurance covers most medical care within the U.S. Please refer to the "Insurance" section of your participant handbook for full details of coverage.
You should ask your immediate supervisors or your camp director first, as they are in the best position to provide assistance. Every camp also has trained medical healthcare staff including nurses and doctors. Seek help from these resources and if this doesn’t result in a solution, call CIEE at 1-888-COUNCIL (1-888-268-6245) for assistance. We don’t recommend contacting friends or family in your home country as it can be very difficult for them to help from so far away.
Call CIEE at 1-888-COUNCIL (1-888-268-6245) immediately for assistance. You will also need to contact the insurance company, which may be able to assist with rebooking your flight.
Call CIEE at 1-888-COUNCIL (1-888-268-6245) immediately to explain the situation and why you need to leave camp. You will be responsible for any costs that would have otherwise been paid by your camp. Please refer to the "Summer Contract" section of your participant handbook for more details.
You can file your tax return yourself or you can use a company to file the tax return for you. If you decide to complete the tax returns yourself, you will need the following forms:
Once your application has been fully approved and processed in the USA, you will receive your legal paperwork from us (this normally happen approximately 5 working days after approval)
You'll then be able to go online and start the process of booking your face to face interview at the US Embassy.
IST Plus was formed in 2003. Since then we have worked with thousands of students and young people from all over the world to help and guide them on their international journeys.
We work with partners across the globe to provide the best service possible.
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