So you want to work at a Summer Camp in the USA? Good for you! In my *totally unbiased* opinion, it is the best job there is. Nothing beats it. Where else are you going to find a job that pays you to spend day after day out in the sunshine, playing games and acting like a giant kid while inspiring and being a role model for the next generation.
A question I get asked a lot is "How do you even get into doing something like that?" so I decided to put everything together into one handy blog post to explain just how you too can have the summer of a lifetime!
STEP ONE: Choose a sponsor agency
The first thing you need to do is find a sponsor agency that works for you. There are loads of them so all you have to do is look at them and pick one that meets your expectations. While they all claim to offer something different, they are essentially offering the same thing: the best summer ever. Simply type "summer camp sponsor agencies" into Google and they will all pop up for you to take your pick from. Once you have found one that sounds like the right fit for you, you can move on to step 2!
STEP TWO: Apply online
Each agency will have its own online application you will need to complete in order to be accepted onto their program and start your summer adventure. This will consist of providing some basic information about yourself as well as answering some questions about your experience working with children and what you hope to get out of the experience. The more honest you are on this form, the better the chances of your agency finding your perfect summer camp down the line!
A lot of agencies require you to upload an application video - remember this is a great way for camp directors to get to know you and for you to sell yourself to them so they will want to hire you, even if it feels cheesy as hell at the time!
STEP THREE: Get interviewed
Once your application is complete, somebody from your chosen agency will contact you to set up an interview. These interviews are generally informal and relaxed - they are mostly to get to know you and to be sure that you can handle a summer at camp (it's not all sunshine and rainbows my friends!)
Try not to stress about these interviews, mine was in a Starbucks, they really aren't anything to worry about. Just be your bubbly self and you will be fine. After your interview, if you have been successful, you will be contacted to say you have been accepted onto the program and the agency will begin looking for your perfect summer camp fit.
STEP FOUR: Get placed
This is the worst part of the process, just waiting to hear from a camp that wants to offer you a job. Try and be patient, I know the waiting can be excruciating but your agency are working extremely hard to find you the best job to suit you.
Most of the agencies also hold Recruitment Fairs from January onwards where you can meet tons of camp directors and be interviewed and potentially hired on the spot! So if the waiting game is just too much for you, contact your agency to find out when their fair is!
STEP FIVE: Get your visa
Once you have been placed, you will be able to start the application process for your visa. There is a lot of paperwork involved and it can be pretty overwhelming but it really isn't that bad once you get your head around it (and lucky you - I have written a step by step guide to the J1 visa process you can find here!)
You will also need to attend an interview at the American embassy to get your visa. Again, seems scary at the time because the building is huge and there are armed police outside but once you get inside to wait your turn you will realise it is a lot less like Armageddon and a lot more like waiting at Argos...
STEP SIX: Book your flights
When your visa has been approved you are OFFICIALLY off to camp for the summer - congratulations! Now is the time to start looking at flights. Some agencies will book your flights for you and some require you to do it yourself so be sure to check with your agency about what you need to do.
If your agency is booking them for you, sit back, relax, and wait for them to email you your flight details! It's as simple as that. If you are booking your own, check the dates you need to be at camp and start searching for the best deal!
STEP SEVEN: The adventure begins
Time to board that plane, take a breath and start the summer of a lifetime! You won't regret it, promise.