Spend your summer living, earning and having the time of your life as an Activity Specialist or Camp Counsellor in the USA. Job placement and new BFFs included.
On the fence?
The countdown to camp is on! Book by 14 March to head out to the US this summer.
Sunshine state of mind
Camp USA is your chance to explore new ground, develop your skills over one life-changing summer and come home with a ton of experience to add to your CV. You’ll find yourself leading campfire stories, organising battles, manning ziplines and maybe even becoming a morning person. You’ll leave camp having made friends for life, by sharing an experience that can be difficult to put into words. (We’re up for giving it a go though – read on).
Why do it with USIT
Fund you summer abroad with two months (Jun-Aug) working at summer camp in the sunny USA, with 30 days after camp to travel around America.
USIT has one of the highest first-time camp salaries – USD $2,000. Plus, with meals and accommodation included, most people save money at camp.
We’re one of the only camp providers where you can directly connect with US camps and pitch for the roles you want, rather than take what you’re given.
Need to know
We do the works – providing the job, visa sponsorship, camp application support and medical insurance you need to have an unforgettable summer working in the States.
Each June, camps in America open their gates to thousands of children and young adults. As early as November the year before, Camp Directors will start recruiting international 18-30 year olds to help run the camps. Whether you're coaching soccer, teaching pottery or being the older sibling a camper never had – it’s the chance to live in one-off locations, positively impact the lives of young people, and get paid to do the activities you love.
This isn’t our first rodeo. All our Camp USA team have been to camp and we’ve been running USA cultural exchanges for over 60 years. Whether you’re a first-timer or camp returner, we help take care of everything.
About the visa
Who can apply To work at summer camp in America, you’ll need a J1 visa. This allows you to work at camp for up to nine weeks between Jun-Aug (depending on your camp dates), plus travel for 30 days afterwards.
The J1 visa consists of an online application and an in-person visa appointment at the US Embassy. The visa cost is currently USD $185 – paid directly to the embassy.
Most nationalities can apply for camp. You just need to be:
Must be able to provide proof of supporting funds, usually USD $800 in the form of a bank statement.
How we help To apply for your J1 visa, you need a US sponsor. That's where USIT come in. We work with CIEE, the longest running non-profit sponsor in America, to provide all the checks and paperwork you need to apply for your J1. We’ll then guide you through your visa application and embassy interview.
Types of camps
We work with over 900 camps across the States. Blessed with all-American ‘Parent Trap’ good looks, most summer camps are located in incredible locations with activities spread across lakes and forests. You’ll usually have 1-2 days off a week to explore, and meals and accommodation are included at camp. Depending on the camp, accommodation might be in cabins, bunkhouses, dormitories or permanent tents; and be staff-only or shared with your campers.
Picked for their ethos and the experience they offer for staff and campers, all the camps we work with are accredited by the American Camps Association (ACA) and broadly fall into the below categories:
Private camps The traditional ‘find your long-lost twin’ camp experience, these are the most typical summer camps in America and have often been family-run for decades. They’re usually in lakefront locations with a strong emphasis on sports, the creative arts and the outdoors. From lifeguarding to rock band, there’s often over 50 activities to get involved in.
Non-profit camps Providing a more affordable camp experience and scholarship places for children from lower-income families, like private camps, non-profit camps are often located in inspiring locations with an emphasis on empowering young people to grow their skills. Both the impact you have and your own personal growth can be higher at these camps.
Disability camps Disability camps are focused on providing an accessible camp experience for young people with differing physical and learning needs. With adapted sports and activities, they replicate a traditional camp experience but with smaller groups and one-on-one support – meaning your connection with your campers can be much stronger.
Girl Scout camps Run by Girl Scouts of the USA, these camps are female only camps – although they may hire male and female staff. There’s a strong emphasis on adventure, the outdoors and connecting with nature – empowering young women to build their teamwork skills and support each other through activities and problem-solving exercises.
Religious camps Faith based camps are common in the USA, and don’t usually require counsellors to share the same religious background. The level of taught religious values varies, with many just promoting traditional camp values of kinship and teamwork. Like all camps, they’re usually in stunning locations and teach a wide range of activities.
Roles at camps
Types of roles Camp Directors recruit for Camp Counsellors, Activity Specialists and hybrid roles where you do a bit of everything. It’s an opportunity to either turn your hobbies into paid work – teaching tennis, watersports, horseriding, climbing, art, theatre, gymnastics and everything in-between. Or if you’re looking to pursue a career in childcare or education, gain experience working with young people. As well as being the most fun thing you can do with your summer, you’ll also learn a heap of leadership and problem-solving skills – all things that will look great on your CV when you return home and start job hunting.
Your role Working at camp, your main job is to make camp a fun and safe environment for your campers. So basically, you have fun and make sure others do too. You’ll be responsible for their day-to-day wellbeing – getting them to meals on time, helping to run activities and supervising rest times. Sometimes you'll be building fires, other times you'll be putting ones out. With training done when you arrive, most positions don’t require any previous qualifications. Just bags of enthusiasm, the ability to think on your feet, and a willingness to dive in and live life to the fullest.
How we help You can’t apply for your J1 visa until you have a camp position secured. With most camp providers, you go into a placement pool where you’re picked up by a camp – giving you little or no control over where you end up. The Camp Connect platform allows you to view positions, pitch yourself to Camp Directors and request video interviews for the roles you want. Or you can go into the placement pool and wait to get picked. Your choice!
How it works
To give you enough time to get hired, get your visa and get out to the USA this summer - we suggest booking by 14 March.
1. Apply online First, check you’re eligible in the visa tab above, pay your deposit, and wait for our team to get in touch to set up a camp interview. Nothing scary, it’s just to assess your suitability for the summer camp program. Plus, your chance to ask any questions.
2. Get hired We’ll set you up on the Camp Connect portal where you’ll fill out a profile. Camp Directors can contact you for video interviews, and vice versa. Plus, we have regular virtual hiring events where you can connect face-to-camera with camps to get hired.
3. Sponsorship application Once hired, we’ll start the sponsorship process to secure your DS2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor status) which is needed to apply for your visa. This can take up to eight weeks. We’ll then guide you through the J1 visa application process.
4. US Embassy interview We’ll help you arrange and prepare for your in-person embassy interview. Be prepared for them to keep your passport for around two weeks. Once approved, you can collect your passport or have it couriered – depending on what you’ve arranged.
5. High fives, you’re off to camp! We host weekly pre-departure group calls with live Q&As to answer all your questions and make sure you’re camp ready. You’ll usually arrive at camp 5-10 days before your campers to do your in-person training (camp dependent).
First-time inclusions €299
Returner inclusions €399
Full support from our team of happy campers from start to finish
As a returner, your salary will be negotiated directly with your camp.
You may be required to show proof that you can access USD $800.
Travel insurance for camp
We include medical insurance during your camp placement, but you must take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover against the rest of your trip. For example, flight delays, cancellation and curtailment, personal belongings, legal costs, adventure sports, and more.
We don’t recommend booking flights until your visa is approved.
Travel after camp
Talk to us about where you can go and what you can do.
Garda background check (if required)
This is free at your local Garda station.
US visa fee Irish passport holders
This is paid directly to the US Embassy and currently costs USD $185.
Back for more
Camp USA returners
A home away from home, most of our travellers return year after year to camp. If you’re going back for the third time or more, please call 01 436 2420 to chat to our team before paying your deposit. If it’s your second year, book now with just a deposit.
Summer of a lifetime
Camp USA - What we say
Meet Roisin - one of our USIT happy campers (AKA, the team behind the scenes who support you step-by-step with your Camp USA application). Having spent three summers at camp before joining the USIT team, she's an expert on all things camp and America. Here's the need to know on who, when and how to apply.
Camp USA - What our Insider says
Meet our USIT Camp Insider, Kiera. Who after doing a J1 in summer ‘22, switched camps for summer ’23 to work as a camp rock counsellor at Camp Lindenmere in Pennsylvania. Watch her first episode on surviving orientation week, meeting her best friend, and how camp will always have her heart. Here to give you the inside intel on camp life, follow @usittravel for more episodes, FAQs and takeovers.
30 days travel after camp
Speak to anyone who’s been to camp, and they’ll tell you that camp friends make the best friends. But the adventure doesn’t end there. Your J1 visa allows you to travel for 30 days after camp. It’s your chance to let loose, explore America with new mates, and eat a meal without being watched by 50 small people. Surf in sunny San Diego, live on the edge at the Grand Canyon, or get deeply dishy in Chicago.