How to Choose a Summer Camp to Work For

Choosing which summer camp you’ll volunteer for is one of the biggest choices you’ll make in the Camp America application process. So what factors should you be considering? In this episode of There’s No Place Like Summer Camp, we divulge all…

Podcast Transcription – Listen to the episode above!

Hello everyone, and welcome to There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. I’m your host, Andrew Waterhouse. And in today’s episode, we’re having a look at how to choose which camp you should work for when applying for Camp America. So come on into our tent, and I’ll spill the beans.

Welcome one and all to another episode of, There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. I think we’re on the 21st episode now. And I have to say that some of the content has been stellar, absolutely stellar.

In today’s episode, though, we are trying to make it a little bit more serious, especially for those that are new to summer camp, and maybe perhaps don’t really know the sort of full process and how to choose a camp. And you know, which is a massive decision for anyone that’s trying to go to summer camp, is what camp to go to. Do you want to be working out for a whole summer? Or, you know, revolve your whole life around because that’s what I’m doing at the moment with, There’s No Place Like Summer Camp podcast and the book. So hopefully, this is a bit more educational than some of the others. But yeah, let’s crack on.

The first thing to consider when choosing a summer camp, is the agency and your profile

So first thing of how to choose a summer camp to work for is going to be really revolved around your Camp America profile. So when I mentioned Camp America, I’ve said it before in other podcast episodes, but I’ll say again, here, because this is kind of more serious one. When I’ll do mentioned, Camp America, I do mean all of the camp agencies that are out there, so there is Camp Leaders, there’s BUNAC and a couple of others as well that are probably missing off, it’s off the top of my head. But when I say Camp America, I do mean them all. Because you do really want to give them a bit of research and see which ones are for you. Personally, I went with Camp America. So whenever I mentioned that going forward, that’s what I mean.

So when choosing which summer camp you want to work for, a lot of this is going to be revolving around your Camp America profile. When you create and start your application process, part of the process is to actually fill in a profile. So when summer camps are looking for people, they’ll be able to find the best-suited people that they are looking for. So this revolves around quite a few things, particularly.

The dates you can make

One of the first things, for instance, is what dates can you make, because plenty of people have commitments already, before applying to summer camp, whether that be university or work or other family commitments, some holidays. So one of the first things that you’ll start to fill out in a Camp America profile will be the dates that you can actually make, which is obviously going to have a bit of an impact on which summer camps are going to be able to hire you. So be sure to fill in your profile as accurately as you can, giving yourself plenty of time to be able to go through the application process of getting your passports, your visas, and all of your interviews completed.

You can choose which types of camps you are open to

But one of the next things that you need to do with your profile is actually fill in what kind of camps you’re open to, as part of the application process, we actually fill in your Camp America profile to actually say, what camps would you ideally like to work for. And obviously, this isn’t going to be a perhaps 100% guarantee that you’re going to be able to work at these camps. But we’ll be able to narrow you down and be a bit more specialized around which kind of camps you are open to work at.

So for instance, when I created my profile, one of the things that I said I’d be up for, was a traditional summer camp where people come and pay extortionate amounts of money to come and have a really good time. That’d be probably pretty ideal for me. I think I put that as my number one. Because I had experience within the scouts and cubs for many years volunteering as a young leader. So I said, yeah, that will be the ideal camp for me. But an underprivileged camp, I’ll just work just as well perhaps even better. So I think I put that at second place. I’ll be really good at working with kids no matter what kind of background they’re from, because of that experience of being a young leader, scouts and cubs and, you know, being a bit relatable to the kids as well, because when you’re like say aged 20-21 ish, which doesn’t actually seem that long ago, but I am now 27 fucksakes Jesus Christ, where’s the time gone? Anyway, on a bit of a tangent.

A special needs camp? A Religious camp? The choice is yours

I filled in those two saying these are my preferences and then it came on to the counts that I wasn’t really sure if I could fit in. So for instance, a Christian camp, I think that might be one of the options that you can select. I was like, Yeah, that could be my third place when I did use the scouting. This scouting troop that I used to be with, was held in a church. I’m not particularly religious myself, but I’ll be able to cope with being around Christians, I think. So I put that as my third choice.

But then it came to the more questionable ones where it didn’t really fit with my background, but I was like, Oh, actually, I’d be quite open to doing a Jewish summer camp, not totally opposed to it. I don’t think I’ll be perhaps offended or offensive about the sort of religions that don’t really have much of a culture, identity with there won’t be so much of a culture clash either. So I was like, Okay, I could be open to doing a Jewish summer camp.

Why I didn’t choose disabled camps

And then there was, I think the disabled camp was the only one that I checked off of my list. And that’s not meaning to be rude or anything, it’s more to say, I don’t really have the professional experience to be able to go to a summer camp that’s solely dedicated to people who are disabled, and be able to provide a really, really good summer camp for them. Because that sort of exposure to camps is going to be, you know, very specialized, you’re going to have to provide special care and attention to each individual with their own needs. And that’s not my background, I’ve at least my scouting experience got that typical experience, but not so much for special needs. I know how it was more about the collective and having a collective fun, great, enjoyable, and memorable time. Whereas working with say, the disabled would kind of be a bit different in the kind of role that you’d need to fulfill. And also don’t have any qualifications or certifications in dealing with only sort of people.

Step out of your comfort zone into a new culture

So that’s gonna be the first thing is to actually narrow down what you actually want to get out of doing Camp America. So for me, one of the things was to expose myself to a new culture, whether that be a religious one, or just being in a summer camp in general, I knew that going to America and doing a program like Camp America would be really eye-opening. And as I’ve said before, in previous podcasts, I went to a Jewish summer camp. Yeah, it was really a shock, to be honest, to see how, you know, different religions run and how similar you are where you connect with people.

Also, you know, the day-to-day running of a religion and religious collective is really interesting. So you need to figure out what do you actually want to get out of doing a program like summer camp. Do you want to be able to fit in? And be what you’re used to say, with traditional or the underprivileged camps? In my case, where I put those at number one, and number two, or do you want to learn from a new culture, and that’s exactly what I got really, from doing my couple of years come from America.

What can you add to camp, and what do you want to get out of volunteering?

So you have to really balance what you want to get out of camp, what you’re able to offer as well. And when you’re in an interview, for Camp America, there’s a, I think there were at least three stages of an interview for actually getting a role. So I think the first interview was face-to-face. And that was for me, to go into London and sit in Costa Coffee, sit down with someone and literally go through what my application was, and where I felt I could add value to the Camp America program, why I wanted to choose those camps as well. So dive a little bit deeper into your experience and your exposure perhaps opened you up to ideas of other camps as well.

Consider what location you want to work within

I think they also asked which particular location roughly you want to end up in.

I think in my top three, I chose like California, Las Vegas and New York, I think that’s pretty much gonna be the top you know, the top choices for everyone to go to, but you have to remember that they are only preferences, they can’t guarantee that you’re going to be able to place you there. And especially when it’s not really up to the likes of Camp America and Camp Leaders to actually get you a position. It does actually fall to the camps to be able to pick you out and say yeah, this is the kind of guy we want.

What positions can you fill?

And that leads me on to my final few points about how you can choose the best summer camp for you. So when you’re applying for a position, you also need to be able to think about what actual positions you are able to fill. So one of the most daunting things about actually going through with the Camp America application is how demanding, it seems that people can be sort of thing

I explained this in the way that when I went to my orientation day, one of the really like, things that took me aback was how many people had lifeguarding, qualifications or certifications in first aid or a black belt in karate. Honestly, I don’t really have anything to show for my time, I’ve just been a young leader at a scout camp for ages. And that really falls back down to the references that you have to apply.

Consider specialist camps, depending on what you want to do…

You have to add with your application, just to back up what you’re saying, really, so you have to think what role is going to best suit you and which camp best suits that role. So if, for instance, I’m applying to be a horse riding specialist, I could be open to going to a horse riding specialist only summer camp, maybe there’s a summer camp out in America that only does horse riding for a month for their kids. And it’s really specialized. So you could be open to a real specialist camp.

Summer Camps usually Pick You, not the other way around

But then some people are like, oh, I want to be a horse race riding specialist. But I don’t want to just do horse riding this whole time, I want to be able to, you know, experience other sports and outdoorsy kind of things. So you have to really balance like, what do you want to add to camp? And what do you really want to take away from it, because there’s plenty of camps out there that are very narrow, and there’s plenty that are wider. And that ties in with the cultures as well. So you can make all these additions to your profile, and see which best suits you. So once your profile is all setup, you’ve passed all the interviews, and you’ve got to the stage where you’re just another entry in an Argos catalogue, ready for summer camp to pluck you out and say, yes, we need this person to come and volunteer our summer camp.

The camp directors need to be able to think, Okay, do I pick this one. And this is really something that I perhaps I’m not the best person to speak of, just because when I first got my application through from summer camp, I was like, Wow, this camp has chosen for me to come and work at their camp. And I am so excited. I’m so buzzing to go and work over there.

Camps will come to you – you get final say

I’m just going to say yes, but I did do a couple of things. First, this is where it gets. And this is where it’s interesting. So when I was choosing my summer camp, I accepted the first offer that came over to me, because I was really wowed by their website. So the first thing you do is you have your application up on like a catalogue of other applications on Camp America, Camp Leaders etc.

And what you do is basically wait for people to say yes, I want you. So they say yes, and you get an email saying, this camp are looking at your profile, would you be interested in taking up an outdoor living specialist role? Which is what I did.

The buzz when a camp picks you

So straight away, as soon as I got that email that notification that a camp was interested in me, I was buzzing my tits off, and I visited their website, first of all, and it’s gonna get you to give you like a real good overview of what this summer camp is all about.

It’ll tell you what kind of summer camp it is and how you think you’re going to fit in, you’re going to be able to view some of their videos, their marketing material that they show off to their parents and campers, to entice them to come back for the next year. And you’re going to be, you’re going to really see like whether you’re able to fit into their like, way of being. So you need to weigh up what’s kind of camp, this is whether it suits your profile, whether it suits the kind of thing you want to do.

Also where in America you will be, because some people apply for Camp America specifically to be in certain states, perhaps, to be near family that are maybe over there, the distant family that you haven’t seen before. So you have to weigh up, where it is, what culture it is, and what kind of activities you can expect to come from such an experience.

In closing: There is plenty to consider when picking a camp.

So I think in general, that really sums up this podcast episode, there are plenty of things you have to think about when an application comes through for choosing which summer camp to work for. It is a real big choice and a big decision.

There’s no real one summer camp, that’s going to be better than another. You really have to like compare and contrast, like how you’re best fit for that summer camp. It’s very subjective.

There are no real better states than other states either. It’s a very subjective thing. So for instance, my summer camp was in Atlanta, it was a place that I never thought I’d visit never even crossed my mind to add to my profile. But when that came along, I was like, oh, that’s where The Walking Dead is filmed! And I was really hooked.

I was like, Yeah, sign me up, baby.

Book details and how to get in touch

Okay, so that brings us to an end of this episode. Guys. If you do have any questions, feel free to hit me up. You can find me on You’d be able to send a message through Twitter @androow09.

And speaking of the website, There’s No Place Like Summer Camp is coming out as a book in 2020 out now!

I’m super excited to announce that it’s really, really like getting there now, the editor is cracking on with their work, I’ve made my final additions to the, to the book. And you know, it’s there’s something real special about doing summer camp that I really wanted to capture in a book. And it’s been a real work of love to try and get, get it to where it is at the moment. So if you’re interested in pre-ordering the book, it’s available on There’s No Place Like Summer buying, its available on Amazon here. You can order the ebook or the paperback versions.

Next discussion…

I’d also like to say that in next week’s episode, we are looking at things that you will learn at a Jewish summer camp because of course, as you know, from this episode, I went to a Jewish summer camp and I don’t think there’s many resources out there that really address the issue of people who are going to a summer camp that is Jewish, and they’re not Jewish themselves. So it’ll be an interesting episode to see like how some sort of agnostic white British male sees a Jewish summer camp and gives their opinion on that sort of thing. So stay tuned till next week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday.

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