A camp counsellor has been described as a “cross between a teacher and a big brother or sister.” Your main role will be to keep the children safe and occupied for as long as they are awake, while those that don’t want to work directly with children may be able to find work in the background in catering, cleaning or maintenance positions.
Most Americans will spend at least one summer of their childhood at camp but a few other countries have their own take on the custom allowing greater choice to travellers looking for overseas jobs, while Americans can find their own opportunities for working abroad.
Summer camps have been present in Canada for over a century. Today there are around 800 residential and day camps in Canada, with the bulk of them found in Ontario. As is common in the USA there are two roles to be filled in Canadian camps: camp counsellor and support staff. Applicants applying via CCUSA can come from any country but must be aged 19 to 27 (though 18 year olds may be accepted) and available to work from May or no later than June 20th to at least the middle of August. Applications can also be made to NYQUEST.
Some camps also accept direct applications and will help with applying for a Working Holiday Visa. This is the route to go down if aged over 27 as the WHV is valid up to the age of 30, or 35 for some nationalities. Camp White Pine provides some useful information on this topic. Camp Page lists jobs placed by the camps themselves.
The Camp California programme offers six to nine week contracts teaching your skills – including archery, tennis, football, American football, dance, snorkelling, woodwork, digital photography and music – to children at an American summer camp transplanted to the Adriatic coast. Staff from most countries are classified as volunteers under a cultural exchange programme and can work on a tourist visa. Pocket money starts at €130 per week plus room and board for first time counsellors depending on age, education and qualifications. More information and applications can be made via CCUSA.
When American parents pack off their children for a summer of outdoor fun, Russian parents are doing the same. Russia’s summer camps have their roots in the Young Pioneer camps formed during the Soviet era. At their peak in 1973 there were around 40,000 camps, including this now abandoned camp on the banks of the Desna River. CCUSA arranges for camp counsellors to work at Russian camps in far better shape. We’ve given information on the programme from the UK version of CCUSA’s site here but other nationalities can visit the main site at www.ccusa.com and navigate to the Camp Counselors Russia pages from there.
If you love working with youth, meeting new people and have a passion for adventure learning education, then Camp Challenge welcome you to join them in Singapore. Their flexible work arrangement allows you to experience the city-state and travel around Asia while maintaining a stable source of income. They pay SGD$500 for working ten days in a month, with basic accommodation provided. Applicants should be undergraduates or fresh graduates with a degree in any discipline, able to commit for six months, at least 19 years old and eligible for Singapore’s Working Holiday Pass.
Swiss summer camps make use of the nation’s mountain countryside and, as should be expected in a country known for its winter sports, winter camps also play a role in the development of Swiss children. As with in the USA, Swiss summer camps place an emphasis on sports and activities but there is often also the academic element of English learning. As a consequence there are roles available for teachers as well as counsellors.
Recent Swiss employment legislation has blocked the chance of jobs for non-Europeans and those looking for work in the Swiss cantons should be from the EU or an EFTA member country. Camps to investigate for work include Camp Montana, Leysin American School in Switzerland, Les Elfes International, Le Rosey Summer Camps, Camp Suisse, TASIS and Village Camps.
Despite the spread of the American summer camp concept to other countries, America is still the place to go for the quintessential summer camp experience. It is also one of the easiest ways to work legally in the USA. Though camp is as American as apple pie your co-workers will come from around the world, drawn in by recruitment fairs and work visa arrangements set up to meet the huge demand for camp staff. BUNAC, Camp America, CCUSA are among the main recruiters but more links can be found in the directory of our main work abroad site, the Overseas Job Centre.
Image courtesy Camp Pinewood.