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:
Applying for Camp America
How do I apply for Camp America?
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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 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 less than 200 MB. Anything over 200MB 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.
Attending an Interview
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. Hence, 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 to work at a Summer Camp will not fit into the Mid-Semester break for 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 visa regulation set forth by the United States government that you are 18 by June 1st, but you can still apply next season!
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 family wanting to know more about the Camp America program. Click here for details.
Getting a Placement
When will Camp Directors be placing applicants at their summer camps?
Camp Directors and their staff will be interviewing applicants starting in August 2018. They will be offering placement opportunities for camp counselors at their camp until mid-June 2019.
How long after I apply will I hear about a placement?
The Camp America placement season begins in August for the following year and runs through mid-to-late June. Finding the right camp does take some time. You could be placed after your first interview with a Camp Director, or it could take a couple of months and a few more interviews. This is a normal part of the placement process.
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 your chances will be high. Camp America works with over 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 can consider you for a placement.
When will I find out if I have a job at camp?
Camp Directors begin to select camp counselors in August for interviews and finish hiring in mid-June. 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 camp counselors when they know how many kids will be attending the camp. It can take some time to find you the perfect placement, sometimes it is simply a waiting game!
Is it possible for my friend and I 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. Each season we do place friends or partners together, but these tend to be older and highly skilled applicants.
What happens if I do not like the placement that has been offered?
Camp America works with great camps and takes many factors into consideration when matching you with a camp. Our first priority is to ensure that it meets your pre-selected camp preferences. If you are unsure about the placement offer, please contact the office immediately to discuss options.
As per the Terms and Conditions for the program, if you reject a placement without discussing it with the office, and then do not receive another placement offer before the end of the placement season in mid-June, we will not be able to offer a refund of the fees paid.
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!
As a counselor, your main job is to look after the campers' general well-being and ensure that the kids get to enjoy all their camp activities safely, whilst having a good time! It's likely that you'll end up taking part in many of the activities as well - so while you don't need to be an expert, a flexible 'can-do' attitude is essential. On a typical day at camp, you could find yourself skipping from tennis to archery, to pottery...to then finding yourself jumping off a double-decker boat into a lake; cheered on by your campers! Find out more about the counselor role here
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.
Am I allowed to smoke or drink at camp?
First and foremost, the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. U.S. laws are quite strict about this and if you are caught underage drinking you could face legal retributions. If you are of legal drinking and smoking age, each camp will have its own rules and policies regarding these matters. For the most part, you will not be allowed to smoke on camp property. Please keep in mind that if you break any camp rules, you may be fired.
What happens if I get fired from my camp?
Participants are expected to complete a placement for 9 - 12 weeks. Whilst on a camp, participants are accountable to the Camp Director. It should be noted that camps in the US often have very strict rules and regulations regarding areas such as curfews, alcohol, smoking and behaviour towards campers and staff. Participants should expect to be asked to leave camp if they break camp rules. Being fired is not a pleasant experience and to minimise the disruption on camp it should be understood that following a firing, participants may be asked to leave camp immediately without saying goodbye. Camp America will offer support and work with the participant regarding the individual situation, which could include a re-match with a new camp or beginning the 30-day travel grace period early.
Is insurance included in my program fees?
Yes. As a cultural exchange visa sponsor, Camp America provides medical insurance for your time at camp, as well as for the 30-day travel grace period in the US before your camp commences and at the completion of your camp placement. Provision of medical insurance is required as a visa sponsor and therefore is mandatory for participants to take the Camp America medical insurance (unless they have a policy that has been reviewed and approved to meet the program requirements). You also have the option to upgrade your medical insurance policy to include baggage insurance. You can do so through your MyCampAmerica site.
Can I extend the Medical Insurance?
If you leave the US during your grace period your coverage will terminate. You have the option to extend your insurance for any prolonged world travel after the cultural exchange visa program at an additional cost. Please contact the office and we can provide you with the information to seek out a quote with our Insurance Extension Provider.
What if I have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?
It should be noted that the medical insurance does not cover for pre-existing medical conditions unless they have been pre-approved by the Camp America Medical Coordinator to add pre-existing medical condition coverage. If we cannot provide medical insurance fro n applicant due to a specific pre-existing condition, they will be required to obtain their own personal cover for this.
Do you offer more comprehensive Travel Insurance?
Optional Baggage Insurance can be provided at an additional fee. It offers provisions for personal property and flights. You can read more about the Baggage Insurance upgrade here. Visit the insurance tab on your MyCampAmerica site to add the upgrade to your profile.
Can I arrange my own insurance?
If you wish to purchase your own insurance please note that it must meet regulations set by the US Government. The US Government is in the process of changing the requirements regarding the level of cover required for each participant on a cultural exchange program.
Before you purchase a policy please email us the Product Disclosure Statement so we can ensure it meets the minimum level of coverage.
You can find the new requirements by clicking here and going to page 60316. Alternately you can visit 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:
Getting a Visa
Can I organise my visa before getting placed at a camp?
No, as a cultural exchange visa sponsor, Camp America is unable to print your visa papers until you have a confirmed placement.
How do I apply for the visa?
As your cultural exchange visa sponsor, designated by the US State Department, Camp America will provide placed applicants with the necessary DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility) which is required to apply for the cultural exchange visa.
The DS-2019 forms will be printed in our US office starting in November. They will then be posted to our office here in Sydney, we will then post them to the applicant's mailing address.
From December onward the DS-2019 forms will be provided to participants approximately 3 weeks after a placement is officially confirmed.
Additional forms are supplied via the Camp America Australian Office. We will also provide all applicants with detailed, step-by-step instructions via email to guide applicant's through the entire visa application.
The applicant will then be required to attend a personal interview at their local US Consulate (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.
Can I work before or after camp with my visa?
The cultural exchange visa does not extend as a green card or work permit. You may only work at a summer camp in the position of Camp Counselor.
How long before my visa start date can I arrive in the United States? How long can I remain after my program ends?
You are granted a 30-day travel grace period before the program start date to enter the United States. Additionally, upon completion of your summer camp exchange program, you have a grace period of 30 days to travel within the country and then depart the United States.
Do I need an ESTA?
The ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is required to travel to the USA if you DO NOT have a visa. As a participant on a cultural exchange visa program, you will have a visa and do not need to worry.
Returning to Camp
Can I just apply and get my old job at camp?
Please make sure to speak with you Camp Director before applying in order to confirm that they have a role for you this upcoming summer. Once you have confirmation, you are more than welcome to apply.
What is the Submit to Office button in the online application?
Once you have completed enough of the online application you will be required to click on the "Submit to Office" button. Your application will not move on to the next stage without completing this step.
Do I need to apply for another Police Check?
Yes, Camp America requires a new Australian Federal Police Certificate for every season you are participating in the program. The certificate should be dated from August (of the year before going back to camp)onward. It must be mailed to the Camp America office in Sydney (PO Box 1319, Darlinghurst, NSW 1300). For details on how to apply for an Australian Federal Police check click here.
Do I need to complete a Medical Form?
Yes, Camp America requires a Medical Form to be completed prior to beginning the cultural exchange visa application. Make sure to submit this early in order to not delay the visa process. You can find the medical form in the Download Centre or click here.
Will I need to submit references, activity photos, and a video again?
Should I attend another appointment at the US Consulate or Embassy?
Due to changes we have observed with the US State Department, you will more than likely need to attend another in-person appointment at your nearest US Consulate or Embassy in order to obtain a cultural exchange visa.
We do not recommend using the mail-in option as many returning applicants have been called in for face-to-face interviews or had issues obtaining their visa.
Is it possible to work at a different camp than the one I went to last season?
As long as you can obtain a positive recommendation from your previous Camp Director, we would be happy to assist you with going to a new camp. Please note, you will be required to attend another face-to-face interview with a Camp America Representative. and to complete a full application (this includes, photos, references, AFP check and Medical Form).
Camp America Fees & Refunds
For the breakdown of our current fees, please click here.
Do I get a refund if I change my mind and cancel from the program after a successful interview?
All payments are non-refundable if the cancellation is made by the applicant after a successful interview. Camp America charges a fee both to the applicant and to the camps. Fees are charged to cover the costs of running a fully-supportive program which includes the provision of medical insurance, staffing, orientations and the work incurred in searching for and securing a placement at a summer camp.
Do I qualify for a refund if I have had a serious medical issue that has just come up and it will prevent me from living and working abroad?
If cancellation is a result of a bona fide medical reason, that is backed-up with an official confirmation from your treating Physician, the situation will be reviewed in the office for the potential of a refund.
What happens if I do not receive a successful placement?
If a placement is not found by the end of the placement season (mid-June), a full refund of the payments made to Camp America will be issued.
Can you refund Third-Party Costs?
Unfortunately, we are unable to refund any third party payments such as any police check, medical form or visa fees. Please also note that Camp America does not cover certain charges and travel costs that participants may incur.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 889 067.