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Jobs & Careers

Compare American Summer Camps

Want to work at an American summer camp but don't know which company to go with? Compare the top American summer camp agencies and get the most from your summer abroad!

american flag and statue of liberty in forest

Credit: S_Photo (background), NirdalArt (left), Luciano Mortula - LGM (right) - Shutterstock

Fancy travelling halfway across the world and getting paid to have the experience of a lifetime? Working at an American summer camp really is the stuff of dreams – and for thousands of students every year, it's a reality.

But while working abroad for the summer is an exciting possibility, we know from experience that choosing which company to go with can be confusing. For starters, you'll find plenty of posts and reviews about each company – but it's difficult to know if you can trust them.

So we've done the hard research and put together an up-to-date comparison table and reviews of the main American summer camp companies available: AmeriCampBUNAC, Camp AmericaCamp Leaders, CCUSAInterExchange and USA Summer Camp.

These companies do not own the American summer camps and simply act as 'middle men'. This means that you could be at camp with other people who used a different agency as yourself, doing the same job and still being paid less – all the more reason to do your research!

American summer camps comparison

CompanySalaries (aged 18–20)*Salaries (aged 21+)*Cost**
FlightsNo flightsFlightsNo flightsFlightsNo flights
americamp logo
AmeriCamp
N/A$1,600N/A$1,750N/A£269 before Jan 1st
£299 after Jan 1st
bunac logo
BUNAC
$950$1,550$1,150$1,750£529£289
camp america logo
Camp America
$750$1,350$950$1,550£599£399
camp leaders logo
Camp Leaders
$950$1,550$1,050$1,650£599£349
ccusa logo
CCUSA
$900$1,625$1,050$1,750£594£319
interexchange logo
InterExchange
$900$1,600$1,050$1,750£125£125
usa summer camp logo
USA Summer Camp
$900$1,625$1,050$1,750£599£349

While this table focuses on the financial aspect of things, you should do your own research into exactly what the customer experience with each company is like.

On the whole, the experience with most agencies should be positive (and broadly similar) – but should something go wrong during the process (including while you're in the States), you'll be looking to them for support.

With that in mind, it's worth asking around and looking online to see if the company you're interested in has a good track record in dealing with these kinds of issues.

If you're after a more in-depth breakdown of the costs of the various American summer camps, see below.

* Salary amounts shown are the minimum offered to first-timers (which BUNAC failed to provide). Increased salaries may be offered to returning campers or those with additional skills. These figures are displayed in dollars as, unlike the exchange rate between GBP and USD, the minimum salaries are fixed.

** These costs are for first-timers and do not include third-party costs. See further below for a summary of the third-party costs.

All of the salaries and costs in this guide were provided by the companies themselves.

Should you book your own flights?

aeroplane flying in sky

Credit: Andrey Armyagov – Shutterstock

Most American summer camp companies give you the option of booking your place with or without flights.

Opting for a 'flights included' package is certainly appealing, as it gives you one less thing to worry about. And, looking at the table above, it only seems to add about £200 – £250 to the cost of your place – reasonable, given that return flights to the USA will typically cost you at least £300.

But there's more to it than this. Notice how, as well as costing you more, choosing a 'flights included' package will also see your salary drop by at least $600 (£465) no matter which company you book with.

This brings the 'true' cost of the flights to somewhere in the region of £665 – £700+, which is more than you'd usually pay for return travel to the States.

So, before deciding whether to book a package with travel included, check out our tips for finding cheap flights and see if you'd be able to book them yourself for less!

American summer camp companies reviewed

Here are our reviews of the main American summer camp agencies:

AmeriCamp

americamp logo

As you can see from the table, AmeriCamp has one of the highest basic salaries on offer. However, you may note that there's no option to include flights within the cost.

AmeriCamp seems to have fully signed up to the idea that it's much cheaper for you to book your place and your flights separately, so they don't even offer it as a package. But don't worry if you're not too handy at finding cheap flights – AmeriCamp has an in-house flight team who will endeavour to find you the best deal.

AmeriCamp applicants also get 10% off all programmes run by the Invasion Camp Group (which operates schemes across South East Asia and in South Africa), plus an invitation to the end-of-summer AmeriCamp afterparty in NYC.

AmeriCamp minimum salaries

  • Aged 18–20: $1,600
  • Aged 21 or over: $1,750.

AmeriCamp costs

  • Applying before 1st January: £279
  • Applying on or after 1st January: £299.

AmeriCamp also charges a mandatory £45 visa handling fee, which is in addition to the cost of the visa itself.

Visit AmeriCamp »

 

BUNAC

bunac logo

BUNAC are the longest-running American summer camp agency of the bunch, and it could be because of this that they're comfortable in offering a 100% guarantee of placing you at a camp – if they don't, they'll refund you your fees.

In fact, even if you are successful in getting placed at a camp, you could get your fees refunded anyway. The company offers what it calls a 'Content Creator Scholarship', whereby in return for producing some great travel content documenting your time at a camp, BUNAC will refund you your fees at the end of summer.

If that's not your bag, you can still get money off your trip by referring a friend to BUNAC. Once you've both been placed at a camp, you'll each get £50 taken off your fees – not to be sniffed at!

BUNAC salaries

  • Aged under 21 (flights included): up to $1,050
  • Aged under 21 (no flights): up to $1,650
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): up to $1,250
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): up to $1,850

BUNAC costs

  • Flights included: £529
  • Flights not included: £289.

Visit BUNAC »

 

Camp America

camp america logo

Camp America is probably the most well-known American summer camp agency – so much so that you've probably heard people refer to working at American summer camps as simply "doing Camp America".

As such, it's probably not a surprise to learn that Camp America claims to place more applicants than any other company each summer.

Camp America is also one of just three summer camp agencies (the others being CCUSA and InterExchange) to hold official J1 visa sponsor status. We won't go through the nitty gritty of it all, but in essence, you need a J1 visa to work at an American summer camp.

These visas have come under scrutiny from Trump's government and, in theory, applying through an agency with official sponsorship status should work in your favour if President Trump decides to clamp down on the system.

Camp America salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $750 – $950
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,350 – $1,925
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $950 – $1,050
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,550 – $1,925.

Camp America costs

  • Flights included: £599
  • Flights not included: £399.

Visit Camp America »

 

Camp Leaders

camp leaders logo

Camp Leaders are the only American summer camp agency to have an app – something that may not be an absolute dealbreaker, but is an undeniably useful extra feature.

What's more, like BUNAC, Camp Leaders are so confident that they'll place you at a summer camp that they'll offer to refund your money if they fail to do so.

The company is also the only agency to offer a $150 salary boost for Special Needs Counsellors – definitely worth considering if this is a role you're interested in doing and have the skills to carry out.

Camp Leaders salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $950
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,550
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,050
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,650.

Camp Leaders costs

  • Flights included: £599
  • Flights not included: £349.

Visit Camp Leaders »

 

CCUSA

ccusa review

As we mentioned earlier, CCUSA is one of just three American summer camp agencies with official J1 visa sponsor status (jump back to our Camp America review for an explanation of what this means).

The company also boasts an excellent record for placing counsellors at camps, having done so for 100% of applicants for the past six summers. And for those that are placed, CCUSA also offers a series of discounts for returnees.

Like most summer camp agencies, CCUSA charges returning counsellors a reduced fee (£249). However, they also offer a referral discount of £20 per first-time counsellor successfully referred to CCUSA. According to them, this has allowed some savvy returnees in the past to refer so many friends that they've gone to camp for free!

CCUSA salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $900
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,625
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,050
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,750.

CCUSA costs

  • Flights included: £525
  • Flights not included: £249.

Visit CCUSA »

 

InterExchange

interexchange logo

InterExchange is the third and final American summer camp agency with official J1 visa sponsor status (again, click here to find out what this means and why it could work in your favour).

But that's far from the only string in their bow. Like many other companies, InterExchange offers a referral bonus – however, rather than simply offering to reimburse you a portion of your fees, they'll send you both to camp for absolutely nothing if you apply with a friend.

That said, it's not as if InterExchange's fees are exactly sky-high in the first place. It costs just £125 to apply (and, unlike many other agencies, you don't pay a penny until you've been placed at a camp) and that rate is the same whether you opt for a package including flights or not.

As with the other agencies offering flights packages, your salary will be reduced if you opt to have your travel included. But, with some of the highest salaries on offer and by far the lowest fees, your profit margins will still be pretty impressive.

InterExchange salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $900
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,600
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,050
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,750.

InterExchange costs

  • Flights included: £125
  • Flights not included: £125.

Visit InterExchange »

 

USA Summer Camp

usa summer camp logo

Like some of the other agencies, USA Summer Camp offers a 100% guarantee of placing you at a camp (or your money back).

USA Summer Camp also allows you to apply for 'support staff' positions. Support staff take more of a behind-the-scenes role in the running of a summer camp, be it working in the office, carrying out maintenance or doing housekeeping.

Support staff positions are perfect if you like the idea of getting paid to visit and work in America, but don't think you'd be quite suited to a counsellor role. And, best of all, you won't be any worse off for it – in fact, with salaries of $1,300 (flights included) and $1,850 (flights not included), support staff are paid even better than counsellors!

USA Summer Camp salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $900
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,625
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,050
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,750.

USA Summer Camp costs

  • Flights included: £599
  • Flights not included: £349.

USA Summer Camp also charges a mandatory £60 visa handling fee on top of all packages.

Visit USA Summer Camp »

Unless stated otherwise, all salaries listed above are minimum amounts supplied by the agencies themselves.

Extra summer camp information

trip to new york cheaper than iphone

Third-party costs

No matter who you go with, you'll need to pay the third-party costs yourself – and despite what some companies might say, the costs are often the same regardless of who you'll be working with.

These are the main third party costs that you'll need to pay for:

  • CRB police check: £20 – £75 (can vary)
  • Embassy interview appointment to gain working visa: $160 (approximately £125)
  • Travel to Embassy: varies on where you live
  • Medical at doctors: varies.

The prices may change from person to person but in total you're looking at at least £140 in third party costs.

Types of summer jobs

Most summer camp companies can place you as a general camp counsellor or a specialist in your chosen activity. But whatever the role, you'll usually be working with American kids and helping them have a great summer break!

Here are a few examples of the kinds of jobs and activities you can expect to be doing at an American summer camp. If you've got a talent in any of these areas, or something similar, jump right in and get involved:

  • Archery
  • Arts and crafts
  • Climbing
  • Dancing
  • Drama
  • Fencing
  • Gymnastics
  • Horse riding
  • Lifeguard
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Water-skiing
  • General admin and camp support staff.

Working at an American summer camp is just one of the many ways you can make money working abroad – check them out if you're not convinced this one's for you!

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