Dear potential camp counselor outside of the US of A,
What you’ve got — an idea that you want to work at a summer camp!
Now, what are some ways to make that happen?
You’re going to need a visa to work in the USA. You can get that visa in a couple of critical different ways.
One is to find a camp yourself, and then process the necessary paperwork through an agency the camp does (or can) work with. This is often called “Direct Placement.” The advantage is that you did the leg work of finding a camp and getting hired yourself, likely ending up with a camp well suited and hand-picked by yourself! You’ll also pay only the agency fee, which is usually around $400.
Two is to hire, effectively, a headhunting service to find a camp for you. This option will likely cost you several hundred dollars as your fee to get the agency to take you on. They’ll help you put a dossier together, often including many photographs and a video. Agencies will also often interview you, and put their interview notes up on their website for camps to view as well. They will try and find you a camp, usually by putting your information up on their website for camps to browse, and/or by letting camps they work with know you exist and that they think you’d be a match.
Each agency guarantees a “minimum pocketmoney” payment for each participant. That means you will receive at least that amount by the end of the summer. However, since agencies are providing a service, you pay for it and so does the camp. Often, as a result, you end up with little money in your pocket once all expenses (including airfare) are taken into account. You may receive, for example, $1000, but remember that you paid several hundred of that as your fee to the agency. It is possible for you to walk away with about $300 all said and done at the end of the summer, or even lose a little money. That doesn’t include what you may spend during the summer, which is usually nothing required, but you may want to do things away from camp on your time off.
You’ve hopefully been interviewed, met the director, got your questions answered, know what you need to do before camp starts, and had all your questions about travel, dates, and camp itself answered.
Make sure you read every page on the camp website. And, if you don’t already have the staff manual, ask to get a digital copy so you can read it before you begin. Camps often have a way for you to connect to staff from the upcoming summer, so be sure to avail yourself of those channels and get to know folks!
Cam P. Director