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Jobs & Careers

Compare American summer camps 2021

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. And in 2021, with coronavirus still likely to be having some kind of impact on travel, it's important to know what each company is doing to mitigate the risks.

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 America, 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 to yourself, doing the same job and still being paid less – all the more reason to do your research!

USA 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
£289 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£629£429
ccusa logo
CCUSA
$900$1,625$1,050$1,750£625£350
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£649£399

* Salary amounts shown are the minimum offered to first-timers. 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.

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 camp companies, as well the measures each agency is taking to reassure customers during the coronavirus crisis, read the reviews below.

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 £650 – £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! Just make sure that now, more than ever before, you have the right travel insurance – coronavirus could be still cancelling flights in the summer of 2021, and insurance could get you your money back.

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.

For 2021, AmeriCamp has also introduced a payment plan and pay-in-stages options. While these cost a little more than paying in one lump sum (£10 – £30 more, to be precise), it does allow you to pay in smaller monthly instalments. Head over to the AmeriCamp website for more details.

AmeriCamp minimum salaries

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

AmeriCamp costs

  • Applying before 1st January: £269
  • Applying on or after 1st January: £289.

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

AmeriCamp coronavirus measures

If you feel uncomfortable travelling in 2021, but have already signed up to work at a summer camp through AmeriCamp, they will allow you to transfer your application to a future summer. This can either be in the USA or north of the border with AmeriCamp Canada, and you'll incur no extra charges or cancellation fees.

Alternatively, if you're not available for the timeframe that the summer camp has requested you work, you also have the option of using the fees you've already paid as credit towards the cost of a trip with one of AmeriCamp's sister brands. The full list is available here, but locations include Thailand, South Africa and Ecuador.

Visit AmeriCamp »

 

BUNAC

bunac logo

BUNAC is the longest-running American summer camp agency of the bunch, founded all the way back in 1962.

For any budding writers or YouTubers, you could end up travelling with BUNAC for absolutely nothing. 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.

And if that's not your bag, you can still get your returner fees (the money you pay when you take a second trip with BUNAC) refunded by successfully referring three friends to travel with the company.

BUNAC salaries

  • Aged under 21 (flights included): $950 – $1,050
  • Aged under 21 (no flights): $1,550 – $1,650
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,150 – $1,250
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): up to $1,750 – $1,850.

BUNAC costs

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

BUNAC coronavirus measures

Any bookings made with BUNAC on or after 17th November 2020 will be covered by the COVID-19 Booking Promise.

Under this, you'll receive a 100% refund if you can't proceed with your programme due to a closure of visa application centres or borders. Full details of the scheme can be found here.

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 details of it all, but in essence, you need a J1 visa to work at an American summer camp.

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, J1 visas came under scrutiny – but applying through an agency with official sponsorship status has always been seen as a way to help your case in the event of a crackdown. While there's no indication that Biden will have a similar attitude to his predecessor, you could argue it's better to be safe than sorry.

Camp America salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $750 – $1,450
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,350 – $2,159
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $950 – $1,875
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,550 – $2,159.

Camp America costs

  • Flights included: £629
  • Flights not included: £429.

Camp America coronavirus measures

In the summer of 2020, Camp America issued full refunds or 'rollovers' (essentially pushing the booking to next summer) to anyone who couldn't travel as a result of coronavirus.

The company has told us that, in the summer of 2021, refunds will be issued on a case-by-case basis, but that the £45 deposit is non-refundable. In addition, measures will be put in place to ensure safe travel for all participants.

Visit Camp America »

 

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).

Founded in 1985, CCUSA is also one of the most established summer camp companies. Well over 30 years on they're still going strong, and claim that every single person in their office has worked at a camp themselves – nothing like a bit of personal experience to help give you the best advice.

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: £625
  • Flights not included: £350.

CCUSA coronavirus measures

During the first wave of COVID-19 in the summer of 2020, CCUSA provided weekly updates to all customers, while remaining available for contact at any time.

Anyone with a booking was either offered a refund or rollover, and although the company is optimistic for summer 2021, some similar measures will be put in place once more. Namely, if it becomes impossible for you to work at a camp, CCUSA will allow you to roll over 40% of your fees to the same programme the following year, or to another of the company's work/travel schemes.

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.

InterExchange coronavirus measures

If travel or access to a visa isn't possible due to the coronavirus pandemic, InterExchange will offer you either a 50% refund of your fees or the option to roll them over to the following year.

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.

What's more, there are a number of ways to bring down the cost of your booking with USA Summer Camp. In addition to a £50 student discount, the company is offering 10% if you pay in full within 30 days, plus an additional £15 cashback if you finish your application within seven days.

And as if all that wasn't enough, you can also get $50 in cash for every friend you successfully refer to the programme – up to an unlimited amount!

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: £649
  • Flights not included: £399.

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

USA Summer Camp coronavirus measures

USA Summer Camp's policy is to ensure that no money is lost by any participants as a result of COVID-19. To ensure this, all fees can be moved to a future summer, or transferred to a friend or family member instead.

Visit USA Summer Camp »

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

Extra summer camp information

new york skyline

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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