International Applicants

Find Your Dream Job As A Summer Camp Counselor in the USA

Do you live outside the US? Are you seeking an adventure-packed summer filled with new experiences, lifelong friendships, and unforgettable memories? The exciting world of American summer camps awaits!

counselor friends

Unlock Your Summer Experience in the USA

Dreaming of spending your summer in the United States, surrounded by the excitement of summer camp? Summer Camp Counselor Jobs is here to help make that dream a reality! Working at a summer camp in the US isn’t just a job — it’s an immersive cultural exchange experience that offers a unique opportunity to explore American culture, connect with people from around the world, and make a positive impact on the lives of campers.

How Working at a Camp in America Works

Working at a summer camp in America involves a unique experience of sharing your skills with others while being immersed in a new culture. Whether you’re a counselor, activity specialist, or support staff member, you’ll play a crucial role in creating a memorable and enriching summer for campers.

Before you get to hop on a plane, you’ll need to sort out some administrative tasks such as finding a camp, getting hired, getting a visa, and more.

counselor with campers in kayak
woman with english passport

Visas and Social Security

The most common visa for seasonal workers coming to the US is the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa. International hiring agencies (more on them below) can provide guidance and support throughout the visa application process, ensuring that everything is in order before you embark on your summer camp adventure.

You can learn more about the visa process in our free guide.

Social Security … what is that?

It’s one of life’s many mysteries … more mysterious than those scary fish at the bottom of the ocean with those light bulbs attached to their heads … but I digress.
Social Security numbers are used by the US government to track earning and wages. Everyone working in the USA needs to have one, so the first time you come to an American Summer Camp, your agency or your camp will help you obtain one.
When you go to the appointment for your social security number, you’ll need:

  • Social Security Application Form
  • Social Security Sponsorship letter
  • Passport (2 copies)
  • DS2019 ( 2 copies)
  • 1 – 94 (2 copies)
  • Sevis Receipt (2 copies)

You agency is your best resource for making sure you have everything you need for your visa and your social security number — that’s their job after all!

International Hiring Agency Vs Direct Placement

International hiring agencies specialize in connecting international applicants with summer camp opportunities in the US. These agencies handle the recruitment, visa processing, and placement process, making it easier for applicants to navigate the complexities of working abroad. You don’t need to be placed by an agency though, you can also apply directly to a camp and then go through a process called direct placement.

Utilizing an international hiring agency can streamline the process of finding a summer camp job in the US. These agencies have established relationships with a network of camps, making it easier for applicants to find opportunities that align with their interests and skills. Additionally, international hiring agencies provide valuable support throughout the visa application process, ensuring a smooth transition to working abroad.

Some international applicants may choose to pursue direct placements, which means finding, applying, and getting accepted to a camp on your own rather than getting placed by an agency. While this approach offers more independence and flexibility (and less fees), it also requires applicants to handle their own process. Direct placements can be a great option for experienced camp staff or those looking for a specific camp experience.

The Top International Hiring Agencies

Looking for an international hiring agency to help place you at a summer camp? We’ve got the skinny right here!!

CCUSA is an international work adventure specialist.  Since 1985, they have been dedicated to providing the highest level of service in summer camp jobs, work and travel experiences, and volunteer adventures.

The Camp Leaders Team provides cultural exchange opportunities at American summer camps! They are an alternative to other agencies for participants and camps looking for a more personalized, hands-on, and user-friendly experience. To date we have helped over 32,000 participants enjoy the summer of a lifetime at more than 500 camps across the USA!

For more than 65 years, CIEE has helped thousands of students, professionals, and educators gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. We’re more than just the world leader in international education and exchange—we’re also the largest J-1 visa sponsor in the U.S.

International YMCA programs such as ICCP (International Camp Counselor Program) have helped camps internationalize their programs while providing leadership opportunities and a cultural exchange experience to young people from around the world who serve as staff at day and resident camps throughout the U.S.

InterExchange is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting cross-cultural awareness through work and volunteer exchange programs. For more than 40 years, InterExchange has been connecting young people from all over the world with life-changing international cultural exchange opportunities. In turn, we provide a unique answer for businesses, organizations, summer camps, and families in need of staff, interns, volunteers, camp counselors and au pairs.

Barefoot Student is an online community that connects university students and recent grads with employers in 192 countries around the world. provides information and inspiration about work and travel opportunities during the summer months. They provide a community network connecting students and young people with employers, travel providers and other summer experience seekers in order to share ideas and investigate opportunities for summer work/travel programs

Home is a service agency dedicated to providing programs for young people that develop personal growth and awareness of the world beyond their borders. IENA trains students before placing them in work situations. We also organize travel opportunities. Every aspect of the IENA experience—training, work and travel—deepens our clients’ awareness of themselves and their commitment to global citizenship.

Camp America recruits international staff for American summer camps. Established in 1969, its is the largest international ssummer camp staff provider. It recruits thousands of staff from all over the world to work for summer camps. A good option for first time applicants as they provide a comprehensive service for internationals throughout the visa process.

Understanding the Finances of Working at a Camp

There are 3 separate kinds of costs involved as an international hire. You should always check out an agency’s website for more specifics on their fees.

This participant fee is the same regardless of what actual camp you end up working at, and these costs are related to your enrolment in the agency’s program.

  • VISA Appointment Fee
  • Pre-departure Meeting Fee
  • Staffing Costs for the Agency
  • Interviewing for the Dept. of State by the Agency
  • Screening and Background Check Fee
  • Insurance for VISA Dates

Some agencies will also include flights to America for the participant and add that to the participant cost. Without flights, the total cost to the participant is usually around $600.

These are costs incurred to the camp to have an international employee work for them for one summer. The camp pays these and they involve:

  • The Agency Fee to Camp for Placing the Hire (Around $750)
  • Employee’s Pocket Money/Summer Salary (This varies depending on the camp, but averages around $200 – $400 per week)

Of course, every camp is different. They may cover certain costs (like flights!). Other’s may not be willing to cover any fees. It simply depends. These are things you need to take into consideration and talk to the camp director about before signing any papers with agencies or camps.

The third and final kind of cost is the costs the camp asks our staff to undertake for things such as:

  • First Aid Training
  • CPR Training
  • Lifeguard Trainings
  • Specialty Certifications
  • Driver’s License Fee

These are costs that the camp will typically pay in full, usually in the form of reimbursing that staff member when they arrive at camp. Many camps really value staff getting these certifications before arriving at camp.

tent, camp, mountain-6024536.jpg

FAQs About Working at a Summer Camp as an International Staff Member

How Can I Apply for a Summer Camp Job in the USA?

To apply for a summer camp job in the US, international staff members typically go through international hiring agencies. These agencies assist with the application process, visa requirements, and placement. You can also search databases and find a camp you like and apply with them as a direct placement.

What Types of Jobs are Available for International Staff Members at Summer Camps?

International staff members can work in various roles at summer camps, including counselors, activity specialists (such as arts and crafts or outdoor adventure), lifeguards, kitchen staff, and more.

Can I Choose Which Summer Camp I Want to Work at Through an Agency?

Yes, applicants typically have the opportunity to express their preferences for specific summer camps or types of camps (such as traditional overnight camps, specialty camps, or day camps) when working with an international hiring agency. If you have already accepted a position with a camp, you can also use the agency as a direct placement.

Is There a Specific Timeline I Should Follow When Utilizing an Agency to Secure a Summer Camp Job?

International hiring agencies often have specific deadlines and timelines for applications and placements, so it’s essential to follow their guidance and instructions closely. Typically, camps start hiring around November or December for the following summer (May) and some agencies have extra fees if you apply after March 1st, so it is important to start early!

What Qualifications Do I Need to Work at a Summer Camp tn the US?

Qualifications vary depending on the position, but common requirements include fluency in English, relevant experience or certifications (such as lifeguarding or teaching), and a passion for working with children.

How Much Will I Get Paid To Work as a Camp Counselor?

International staff members at summer camps in the US receive compensation, which typically includes a salary, room, and board. Some camps may also offer additional benefits such as transportation and meals. Compensation is different for each camp and your take home money also depends on your agency fees.

Will I Have Opportunities to Explore the USA During My Time Off From Camp?

Many camps are located in scenic areas near tourist attractions, national parks, and cultural landmarks and you will be able to enjoy these things during time off. The J-1 VISA also includes buffer dates on either side of your working dates so you can explore more of the US before or after the summer.

What Factors Do Summer Camps Consider When Reviewing Applications From International Hires?

Summer camps typically consider factors such as the applicant’s experience working with children, relevant skills and certifications, English language proficiency, cultural diversity, and suitability for the camp’s specific program and environment.

Have more questions? Check out our FAQ page.

Embarking on a summer camp adventure in the US as an international applicant is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in American culture, make lifelong friends, and create unforgettable memories. Whether you choose to work with an international hiring agency or pursue a direct placement, we’re here to support you every step of the way. Check out these resources to get you going on your exciting adventure!