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Summer camp / USA

Where and what you can do at summer camp in America

Rewarding work, epic locations and unlimited s’mores. There’s a reason why summer is our favourite season.

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Summer camp in America has been saving 18–30 year-olds from decidedly average summer jobs back home since the 1960s. For international students and travellers wanting to earn money while experiencing an authentic slice of America for three months, summer camp USA is an institution.

Not only is it the opportunity to live and work away from home for a summer, it’s also a serious bootcamp for your CV. With the chance to grow your leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills through empowering children and young people. First-timers will earn a minimum USD $2,000 camp salary when booking with JENZA - most of which you should be able to save (immense wilderness locations = hard to spend dollars). Plus, during a global cost of living crisis, we’re firmly in the ‘meals and accommodation included’ camp.

So, we’re sold on working at summer camp in America next summer. Next questions, please:

  • What jobs can I do?
  • What types of camps can I apply for?
  • Exactly how many s’mores are too s’mores? (We're not even going to warrant that one with a response).

What roles can I do at summer camp?

Each year in Jun-Jul, summer camps across America open their gates to thousands of children and teenagers. As early as November the year before, Camp Directors will start recruiting staff from all over the world to help run the camps. Here’s how you can put your skills and passion to good work - and fund your summer by doing what you love.

1. Camp Counsellors The most typical role at camp, Camp Counsellors are the ultimate all-rounders. As a role model, older sibling and human alarm clock… you’ll need to have bags of energy and enthusiasm. And also a ton of empathy. Some of your campers will be away from home for the first time, so it’s your job to make sure they feel safe and supported.

Day-to-day you’ll do a bit of everything, from supervising bunk clean ups to helping run activities. In return for being a general superhero with the ability to fashion eight impromptu talent show costumes out of a laundry bag and 20 hair ties, you’ll build incredible bonds with your campers and watch them grow in confidence and self-esteem.

To get hired: You must have some experience working with children. However, most applicants don’t always realise they have this, so speak to us first to see what qualifies.

2. Disability Counsellors This is one of the most challenging but rewarding roles you can do at summer camp in America. Compassion and patience will be second nature to you. As will your ability to ‘unlearn’ – leaving any preconceived ideas of what’s possible at the gate.

Day-to-day you’ll be helping break down barriers – helping campers of all abilities to attend adapted activities and supporting them to have the traditional camp experience that otherwise might not have been accessible to them. In return for being the world’s best Camp Counsellor, you’ll form unique one-on-one bonds with your campers and have an experience that will shape who you are and how you view others. Ultimately, it’s a who’s teaching who teaching scenario – where you leave at the end of the summer having gained more than you’ve given.

To get hired: No experience is required above that of a Camp Counsellor. Camp Directors are often searching for the right personality fit and a passion for making a difference. Our JENZA Support Squad will work with you to understand your experience and comfort levels.

3. Activity Specialists Depending on the camp, Activity Specialists are often a hybrid role – where you’ll spend a large part of your day teaching your chosen activity, alongside general counsellor responsibilities. It’s a chance to spend the summer building up your leadership skills, inspiring others and positively impacting young people through a sport or activity that you love. You’ll need to be passionate and patient with a ton of teamwork skills – able to lead while making sure that no one gets left behind.

Most camps have an alphabet of activities you can teach, including gymnastics, soccer, football, rugby, tennis, swimming, watersports, sailing, horseriding, archery, survival, climbing, art, drama, dance, music, rock band and more.

To get hired: Most camps don’t require prior experience in the field you want to teach and will provide all the training you need when you arrive at camp in June.

What are the types of camp I can work at?

We work with around 300 selected summer camps across 30 states. All of which roughly fall into these categories.

Private camps The ‘American as apple pie’ OG of summer camps, private camps are independently owned camps. They’re usually located in picturesque lakefront locations with traditional rustic-style cabins and a strong emphasis on sports, activities and the outdoors. From tennis instructors to music teachers, private camps recruit for a wide range of Activity Specialists as well as traditional Camp Counsellors.

Non-profit camps Aimed at providing a more affordable camp experience for children from less advantaged backgrounds, non-profit camps will usually have lower fees and scholarship places. Just like private camps, they're often located in inspiring wilderness locations with an emphasis on empowering children to grow their skills. Both the impact you have and your own personal growth can be higher at these camps.

Disability camps Disability camps are focused on providing an accessible camp experience for children and young adults with differing physical and learning needs. Replicating a traditional summer camp experience, activities can include horseriding, swimming, arts and crafts, music and more. You’ll usually be in smaller groups or be providing one-on-one support, allowing you to form unbreakable and life-altering bonds with the children you support.

Girl Scout camps Run by Girl Scouts of the USA, these camps are female only camps – although they may hire male Camp Counsellors and Activity Specialists. Girl Scout camps have a strong emphasis on adventure, the outdoors and connecting with nature – empowering young women to build their teamwork skills and support each other through sports, activities and problem-solving exercises.

Religious camps Faith based camps are common in the States, and usually don’t require counsellors to have the same shared religion or background. The level of taught religious values at camp can vary, with many just promoting traditional camp values of friendship, kinship and teamwork. Like all summer camps, they’re usually in stunning wilderness locations with openings to teach a wide range of sports and creative arts.

Summer Camp USA applications usually close in March each year, Camp Counsellors and Activity Specialists needing to be in the States by mid/end June. To find out more or apply, click here

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Jeffery

JENZA Staff | London, UK

Our Global Brand Manager has worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her best job was working on a Great Barrier Reef dive boat, and her worst was de-leafing tomatoes. She now lives in London where she tirelessly lobbies for a tomato free office and continues to not give a f* about Oxford commas.

"Not only is it the opportunity to live and work away from home for a summer, it’s also a serious bootcamp for your resume."

Hannah_Profile_JENZA.png

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Jeffery

JENZA Staff | London, UK

Our Global Brand Manager has worked in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her best job was working on a Great Barrier Reef dive boat, and her worst was de-leafing tomatoes. She now lives in London where she tirelessly lobbies for a tomato free office and continues to not give a f* about Oxford commas.

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JENZA Travel (NZ) Ltd trading as “JENZA” and “BUNAC” in Australia and New Zealand is a company registered in New Zealand with company number 8177942 and registered address at 336 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North, 4414, New Zealand.