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Jobs & Careers

Compare American summer camps 2022

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 2022, with coronavirus still not completely out of the way, 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.

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
N/A$2,000N/A$2,000N/A£350
camp america logo
Camp America
$800$1,400$1,000$1,600£629£429
ccusa logo
CCUSA
$900$1,625$1,050$1,750£675£375
interexchange logo
Camp USA
by InterExchange
$900$1,600$1,050$1,750£110£110
skilled summers logo
Skilled Summers
N/A$2,000N/A$2,000N/A£325
usa summer camp logo
USA Summer Camp
$900$1,625$1,050$1,750£699£449

* 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 and paid by the camps in America.

** These costs are for first-timers and do not include third-party costs. These figures are displayed in pounds as they're paid to the UK-based agency you apply through. 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 as 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

Some 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 several hundred dollars.

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 2022, and insurance could get you your money back.

American summer camp reviews

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

AmeriCamp

americamp logo

As you can see from the table, AmeriCamp's basic salary is around the medium mark – and you'll also 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 confident about finding cheap flights – AmeriCamp has an in-house flight team who will endeavour to find you the best deal.

AmeriCamp is also one of just four summer camp agencies (the others being CCUSA and Camp USA by 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.

AmeriCamp minimum salaries

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

AmeriCamp costs

  • Applying before 1st January 2022: £269
  • Applying on or after 1st January 2022: £289.

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

The company has also recently 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 coronavirus measures

If you feel uncomfortable travelling in 2022, 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 (either with AmeriCamp or AuPairCare) 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, with locations including 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.

You may have noticed that BUNAC's offering is pretty simple when it comes to the costs and the salaries. As well as only offering places without flights, BUNAC also guarantees all successful applicants a salary of $2,000, regardless of age, skills or camp location.

BUNAC salary

  • All: $2,000.

BUNAC costs

  • Flights not included: £350.

BUNAC coronavirus measures

In 2021, BUNAC repaid all applicants 100% of the fees they paid as part of their COVID-19 refund guarantee.

This policy is still in place, and 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.

And, as mentioned earlier, Camp America is also one of just a handful of summer camp agencies to hold official J1 visa sponsor status (click here to find out what this means for you).

Camp America minimum salaries

  • Aged 18–20 (flights included): $800
  • Aged 18–20 (no flights): $1,400
  • Aged 21 or over (flights included): $1,000
  • Aged 21 or over (no flights): $1,600.

Camp America costs

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

Camp America coronavirus measures

Camp America has told us that in 2022, as was the case in the summer of 2021, refunds will be issued on a case-by-case basis, but that the £45 deposit is non-refundable. Alternatively, you may be able to roll over your fees to the following year – but again, the £45 deposit is not included.

Visit Camp America »

 

CCUSA

ccusa review

As we mentioned earlier, CCUSA is one of just four American summer camp agencies with official J1 visa sponsor status (jump back to our AmeriCamp 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: £675
  • Flights not included: £375.

CCUSA coronavirus measures

Although CCUSA are optimistic about the likelihood of UK counsellors working at American summer camps in summer 2022, they have put some measures in place to prepare for the worst.

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 in 2023, or to another of the company's work/travel schemes.

Visit CCUSA »

 

Camp USA by InterExchange

interexchange logo

Camp USA by InterExchange (or 'Camp USA' for short) is the fourth 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, Camp USA 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 £110 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 by far the lowest fees, your profit margins will still be pretty impressive.

Camp USA by InterExchange minimum 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.

Camp USA by InterExchange costs

  • Flights included: £110
  • Flights not included: £110.

Camp USA by InterExchange coronavirus measures

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

Visit Camp USA »

 

Skilled Summers

skilled summers logo

Skilled Summers is the newest American summer camp agency on this list and, in their own words, works with "premium summer camps".

In return, they try to recruit highly-skilled applicants to work at summer camps.

That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have worked at a camp before (although that may help) – instead, it means you should be able to offer an "in-demand skill". These skills are listed on Skilled Summers' website, and include arts and crafts, circus skills and horse riding.

Skilled Summers minimum salary

  • All: $2,000.

Skilled Summers costs

  • Flights not included: £325.

Skilled Summers coronavirus measures

In the event of COVID-19 disruption, Skilled Summers will allow you to transfer your placement to another year at no extra cost.

Visit Skilled Summers »

 

USA Summer Camp

usa summer camp logo

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 offers £50 off if you pay in full within 30 days, plus an extra £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. There's no limit on the number of people you can refer, meaning you could not only pay for your entire trip, but make a serious profit on top of your camp earnings too. Time to make some more friends, it seems.

USA Summer Camp minimum 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: £699
  • Flights not included: £449.

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

USA Summer Camp coronavirus measures

Should any restrictions on travel or work in the USA be reintroduced, USA Summer Camp are able to defer applications to a future season of your choice.

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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