Are you thinking about taking the plunge and applying for Camp America but still have questions? We understand spending 9-12 weeks overseas is a big commitment and we want you to be as fully prepared as possible. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions:
How do I apply for Camp America?
I’m turning 18 just after the cut off date of June 1, can I still apply?
Unfortunately not, it is a J1 visa regulation that you are 18 by this date, but you can still apply for next season!
What time of year are Summer camps in the U.S.A. operating?
Summer camps in the United States start between May 1st and June 20th and run through to mid-August. Each of the 50 U.S. states has a different schedule for their school year. So, some states will start their summer break in May and some will start in June. Therefore, the specific start and end dates of a camp depend entirely on individual camp's schedule. You will be made aware of your camp’s unique start and end dates once a placement has been offered.
My parents want to know more about the Camp America program. Do you have any information I can give them?
We have a page dedicated to parents and loved ones wanting to know more about the Camp America program. Click here for details.
I don’t have any qualifications, can I still apply?
Yes, you can! Camps look for a range of camp counselors with varying skill levels, so it may not be necessary for you to have a certificate in your skill area. If you are interested in upskilling and seeking to get any qualifications or certificates in relation to your skills, it could improve your chances of being offered a placement at camp. We review each Application and if we think you would benefit from getting a qualification we’ll give you a call or drop you an email to discuss this with you. However, never underestimate the practical experience that you already have.
I don’t have any experience with children, can I still apply?
You can still apply without having experience with children but it is preferred. Remember that you don’t have to be a childcare worker or are a teacher; your experience can come from coaching or other avenues. Please note that Camp America is committed to Child Protection and the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults. Click here to read our policy.
What happens after I have pressed the SUBMIT button on the online Application system?
After you have completed your online Application and pressed the SUBMIT button your Application is then available for review by your chosen interviewer.
What makes a great Application?
We don’t have a ‘typical’ application that we expect to receive! We know and appreciate that each and every one of our Applicants is an individual and therefore we fully understand that each application will differ.
Be mindful of your spelling, grammar and the overall standard of your written English! We will determine your suitability based on your interview, application, and references. If you write in text shorthand e.g. “i am gr8 at bsketball and luv 2 sk8”, then this doesn’t create the best first impression of you. This looks like you haven’t given the application your full time and attention and this may result in us doubting your motivation in applying to the program.
Go into detail when discussing your skills and experience! Okay, so you play football – but do you play with your mates in the park or are you captain of your university team? Do you just about understand the rules or do you have a coaching qualification from the Football Association? The less you tell us, the harder it is for us to assess your level of experience.
Tell us why you’ll make a great counselor! We know that there are many things that you hope to take from the program i.e. personal development, cultural experience, new friends etc – but this application is about YOU. Why is it that you want to be a camp counselor? How can you positively impact a camp environment? We want to see that you understand what our program is all about and that you’re willing to contribute, as well as receive.
What skill level am I?
We see so many applicants every year that undersell themselves, for example, if you are a bronze medallion holder and a Surf Life Saver then you should be listing your 'Lifeguard – Other' Skill as Advanced Level. Don’t forget to give us details about your experience and achievements too.
On the flip side, don’t oversell yourself, Camp Directors will test you and you don’t want to be that applicant that gets caught out! Should you have any questions and you are unsure what skill level to use we strongly recommend that you speak to your interviewer, send us an email, shoot us a message on Facebook or give us a call, we will be more than happy to help!
Is there an application deadline?
Applications for the 2019 season will open in July 2018. The online applications will remain open until the end of March 2019. While there appears to be a lot of time between now and then, it is best to think about submitting your application sooner rather than later. This will give you more time to be considered by Camp Directors in the United States for a placement at their summer camp.
Plus, if you complete a successful interview with a Camp America representative before November 1st, 2018 you qualify for our Early Bird Discount.
Do I have the skills to apply for Camp America?
When filling in your online Application, you will be asked to select your skills from a list. We encourage you to select as many skills as possible. After selecting your skills you need to tell us about your experience and qualifications for each skill in as much detail as possible.
We are seeking applicants who have a skill in a particular activity area; however, this is not a requirement of the program. There are over 200 skill areas with varying experience levels that can be applied to various roles at camp. If you can teach children or have coaching experience in any of the skills areas, you could get placed as an Advanced Skills Counselor. You can also get placed as a General Counselor, yet it is important to note that there are limited positions available for General Counselors.
If you don’t currently hold any qualifications or certificates in relation to your skills, we highly recommend you work on obtaining these as this will greatly improve your chances of being offered a place at camp. For ideas on how to obtain qualifications, please give us a call on 1300 889 067.
What is the best Profile photo for my application?
The most important aspect of your profile application photo is that you are SMILING!!! Make sure that the photo is clear and bright. For guidelines on your photo we strongly recommend you use this Photo Cropping Tool, this will give you the perfect photo for your application.
Who can write a reference for me?
References are an important part of the application. It’s a good idea to try and start organising two professional references as soon as you begin to apply for Camp America. All references must be in English and the person providing the reference must have known the applicant for a minimum period of six months in a professional capacity.
The person writing the reference must also have had contact with the applicant in the past 12 months and have sound knowledge of the applicant’s character. The reference must be completed via an online link sent to the reference or hard copy forms provided by the office. Most people have a teacher/principal, current or past employer or coach write their references for them. They cannot be written by a family member, friend, colleague on the same level as you or from a babysitting position.
What is a Police Check/AFP?
Please review the instructions regarding the Australian Federal Police check HERE. We require all applicants to apply for an Australian Federal Police check prior to attending an Interview with a Camp America representative. All ORIGINAL AFP checks need to be posted to our Head Office in Sydney for approval. We will not accept photocopies or e-mail attachments. You will need to post it to us at the address below, for your application to proceed. If you require it to be sent back to you, please include a new self-addressed and stamped envelope and we shall return it to you once it’s been accepted for your 2019 application. Your interviewer, or the head office, will also be able to answer any questions as well.
PO Box 1319
Darlinghurst NSW 1300
What do I need to do with the Medical Form?
We require all applicants to complete a Medical Form after a confirmed placement with a summer camp. You must submit the Medical form prior to beginning the J-1 Visa application process. Completing your Medical Form in a timely manner will avoid any potential delays. For first time applicants, your interviewer can provide you with a copy of this form, otherwise, it is found in the Download Centre of the Camp America website. This must be filled out by your Doctor, who must include an official stamp or business card in the allotted section. In the Medical Form you will find questions regarding immunisations, please have your Doctor complete this medical history to the best of their ability. Camp America does not require any special immunisations or boosters, but please discuss your summer camp plans with your Doctor in order to get any immunisations or boosters updated prior to travel to the United States.
Does my Camp Require a Medical Form as well?
Upon placement at a summer camp, your Camp Director might require you to complete an additional medical form specific to their camp. Your camp might also require specific immunisations, please follow their instructions. This will be a task you must carry out prior to leaving Australia.
My video is not uploading, what do I do?
Please ensure your video is 50MB or less. Anything over 50MB will be too big. If you’re still having issues, please call us on 1300 889 067. Please DO NOT email us your video as we cannot upload it for you. We would suggest you convert the video to .avi or .mov format only. Should you need to convert your video we would suggest you use a file conversion site which is available here.
Why has my photo been rejected?
The photos need to clearly show you performing your skills. If you have written down that you have experience in horse-riding – then do you have any pictures of you on a horse? We want to see that it’s YOU in the pictures so if you play for your university hockey team and are showing a picture of 22 people on a hockey pitch, which one is YOU? It might be a good idea to highlight or circle yourself in the picture before uploading it. Make sure you do not have your back to the camera, and the pictures are not too dark. Please also include a short description to tell us what is happening in your picture. The photographs go a long way to ‘back-up’ the written part of your application and really help Camp Directors in making their hiring assessments. If your pictures do not meet these basic requirements, they will be rejected.
Do I need to attend an interview?
All first-time applicants are required to be interviewed by Camp America staff to ensure they meet the program requirements and are a good match for working at a summer camp.
Where do the interviews take place, and who interviews me?
We have a huge network of awesome interviewers all around Australia, they can be found in most capital cities and regional areas as well. When you are ready for an interview, you can select your own interviewer from a list of local interviewers provided on your application page.
Generally, our interviewers are young people who have participated in the program and their responsibility is to assess that anyone applying to Camp America possesses the skills, experience, maturity and ability to participate. Interviewers generally conduct interviews in their own time with the majority of interviews taking place in the interviewer's local area - at a coffee shop, restaurant or public meeting place ie a library.
I live in a major city such as Melbourne or Sydney, but there are no interviewers appearing on my list – why?
Our interviewers each have a limited number of applicants that they can interview at any one time. Sometimes they reach this limit, especially around the beginning and end of the seasons when we have a lot of new incoming applications. Please contact the office if you have any trouble connecting with an interviewer.
What is involved in the interview process?
Your interviewer will verify your application forms, and will then ask you a few questions about your skills, experience, and reasons for why you want to participate in the program.
When can I attend an interview for Camp America?
Before you are invited for an interview, you need to complete your online application and make your first payment of $170.
When should I be available to depart for the U.S. for summer camp?
Summer camps in the United States start between May 1st and June 20th and run through mid-to-late August. Each of the 50 U.S. states has a different schedule for their school year. So, some states will start their summer break in May and some will do so in June. Ergo, the specific start and end dates of a camp depend entirely on individual programs. You will be made aware of your camp’s unique start and end dates once a placement has been offered.
Can I still apply if my University schedule has me finishing after June 20th?
Most Australian University schedules do not fully coincide with the time needed for working at a U.S. summer camp. The commitment for working at a Camp will not fit into a holiday break from University. The latest departure date we can accept is the 20th of June. Camp America cannot offer placements after this date. By late June, most camps are halfway through their summer sessions. So, they would prefer to welcome and train their staff as early in the U.S. summer as possible.
Can I still apply if I cannot commit to working 9- 12 weeks at a summer camp?
Camp Directors will only hire international staff to fill the role of Camp Counsellor if the applicant can commit for a minimum of 9 weeks to 12 weeks, depending on the individual camp’s schedule. Your schedule should be free to meet this requirement.
I’m turning 18 just after the cut-off date of June 1, can I still apply?
Unfortunately not, it is a J1 visa regulation set forth by the United States government that you are 18 by June 1st, but you can still apply next season!
What are my chances of being placed?
Camp America places the majority of the people who apply for the program. When you apply we’ll always give you advice on how to make your Application the best it can be; if you put in the effort and take our advice you’re chances will be high. Camp America work with close to 1,000 camps so there are plenty of positions to go around. Don’t forget that the longer your availability and the more camp types you are willing to consider, the more camps you are available too.
When will I find out if I have a job at camp?
Camp directors begin to select counselors in August (we are already placing!) and finish hiring in early May. While we try to place you with a camp as soon as possible, placement times depend on which positions camp directors are hiring for at specific times of the year. Some camp directors also wait until closer to the start of the season to hire their counselors when they know how many kids will be attending the camp. It can take some time to find you your perfect placement, sometimes it is simply a waiting game!
Me and my friend want to go to camp together, will the same camp hire us?
It is very unlikely that you and your friend will be hired by the same camp. Camps select counselors based on skills so the chances of a camp needing both you and your friend’s skills are slim. Camps also like individuals best as they make more of an effort to meet new friends and integrate into the environment – sometimes if you are alone on arrival you lose your inhibitions and can adjust to camp life more quickly. Each season we do place friends or partners together, but these tend to be older and highly skilled applicants.
Where are the camps? Do you have a list of them?
Camp America works with close to 1000 different summer camps in the USA and they’re located all over the country. We don’t have a comprehensive list of camps to give you, but if a camp hires international staff, chances are, we do work with them.
Can I choose which camp I go to?
Generally, a camp director will hire you based on your skills and the position they are looking to fill. However, if you do your research and find a camp you really want to go to we can push your application to that camp. There are no guarantees they will have a place for you, but we always try!
What will I do at camp?
The position that you have at camp will depend on the skills and experience you have. Coached basketball at home? It’s likely you’ll get a basketball position. Are you a Lifeguard at your local pool? You’ll probably get to work at the camp lake all summer long!
What is the accommodation like? What is the food like? How big is the camp? How many staff will there be? How many kids will there be? What days will I get off? How do I get to camp from the airport etc!
Since we work with so many camps they are all very different in terms of accommodation, food etc. While everyone tends to have the same kind of “Camp America experience” in the end (you are all going to traditional summer camps after all) these details will differ. You could be in a tent or an apartment, have doughnuts for breakfast or have nutritional meals
Is insurance included in my program fees?
Yes. Medical insurance is provided for your time at camp and for 30 days travel in the US at the completion of your camp placement. If you leave the US during your grace period your coverage terminates. You have the option to upgrade your medical insurance policy to include baggage insurance. You can do so through your My Camp America site.
Can I arrange my own insurance?
The US Government is in the process of changing the requirements regarding the level of cover required for each participant on a J1 programme. You can find the new requirements by clicking here and going to page 60316. Alternately please copy and paste the following link: http://www.nafsa.org/uploadedFiles/Chez_NAFSA/Find_Resources/Supporting_International_Students_And_Scholars/ISS_Issues/Issues/FinalJsubpartArule_20141006.pdf
Two of the key changes are:
If you wish to purchase your own insurance please note that it must meet these new expected regulations. Before you purchase a policy please email us the Product Disclosure Statement so we can ensure it meets the minimum level of coverage.
Getting a Visa
Can I organise my visa before getting placed at a camp?
No; as a J1 visa sponsor, Camp America is unable to print your visa papers until you have a confirmed placement.
How to I apply for the visa?
As your J1 visa sponsor, Camp America will print you the papers you need to apply for your visa once you’re placed. These are sent to us from our US office and we will then forward them to you with full instructions on how to get your visa. You will need to fill in an online form, get a visa photo and attend an interview at the US consulate in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth.
How long does it take for the visa to be processed?
Most consulates will take 2-3 business days to process your application and another 2-3 business days to return your passport. However, it can take up to 2 weeks until you get your passport back.
If you have any other questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 889 067.