International support staff require a J1 summer work travel visa. Under this program students are permitted to work in a variety of areas in camp and can even secure employment after camp in a variety of basic skill positions so long as they do not work outside of the program dates and return home in time for the beginning of the university term. Participants cannot, however, accept a role primarily as a camp counselor, Au Pair or any other prohibited position as outlined by the department of state.
Positions: Support Staff at US summer camps encompass all areas of the summer camp operations except the medical staff of nurses and doctors, drivers, and those included in the camp counselor program. Positions typically include a variety of culinary level posts from food prep to bakers to chefs, maintenance and grounds work, office assistance, secretary, housekeeper, laundry, security, etc. There are a myriad of summer camp support staff positions available that require a variety of skill sets and many schools offer credit hours upon completion;
- Culinary/Dining Hall Staff. Cooks, bakers, food preparation, dishwashers, and servers will work alongside seasoned professionals. They will serve an integral part of a small to large volume food service facility. This type of role requires applicants to be energetic and willing to work on a team with others. It is one of the hardest, most demanding roles in that work teams are responsible for the preparation and clean up of each meal and hours may span much of the day with breaks in between. Previous food service experience will most likely be required.
- Housekeeping. Housekeeping staff work in small teams to maintain cleanliness of facilities throughout camp, including such tasks as: cleaning and disinfecting restrooms, shower facilities and floors, washing windows, dusting, sweeping, and laundering.
- Maintenance. Assistants maintain camp properties by helping to prepare camp facilities for opening, repairing, cleaning, and maintaining sites and facilities as directed and may include general duties related to daily refuse pickup, grounds work (leaf & brush removal), landscaping, grass cutting, moving equipment, painting, plumbing, electrical repair, animal care.
- Office: General office assistants may focus on one or more of the following duties: answering telephones, taking messages, light secretarial, duties that keep the office running, keeping files organized and up-to-date, routing mail, processing documents, operating basic office machinery, greeting visitors, scheduling tours, type letters and documents, create events notices, driving camp vehicles to run assigned errands, etc.
As support staff, work may vary but all roles are important in making the summer a success for the campers and staff. Some camps alternate staff designated for each position and although a student may be hired to perform one job, he or she may be asked to fill a variety of support staff roles as needed by the camp.
- Free housing and meals
- Beautiful rural locations
- Camp activities and fun vary by camp but can include kayaking, canoeing, ropes, climbing wall, sports, etc
- Meet staff from the US and around the world!
- Earn college credits
- Contracts average 9-12 weeks with ample time to travel!
- Set salaries that are not affected by weather (and are the highest in the industry!)
CampStaffUSA is the best site to assist interested participants in connecting with summer camp employers.
Qualifications: Applicants for Summer Camp Support Staff must:
- Be a mature adult over the age 18.
- Be enrolled full-time and pursuing studies at accredited post-secondary, classroom
- Possess strong English language skills
- Be willing to work long hours with kids and some prior experience
- Possess two or more camp related skills that you can teach or assist in teaching to kids at camp – the stronger the skills and application, the better the chance of a placement at camp
- Be open minded, energetic, flexible & prepared to work long hours!
- Have no criminal record
- Have sufficient funds to pay for program fees, flights and all additional costs
- Be independent and self-motivated. Students are required to be pro-active in the application process, to research employment position, location and travels fully.
It is important for students to understand that although camps offer a unique experience in beautiful locations and opportunities for outdoor fun, living and working in a new country will be challenging at times and is a learning and life experience, not simply a holiday.