Can you smoke while working at Camp America?

Smoking at summer camp can be a grey area, especially for those applying through Camp America. In this podcast episode, we discuss if you can smoke at Camp America, as well as an update on Coronavirus.

Transcript from the podcast

Hello and welcome to There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. I’m your host, Andrew Waterhouse, and in today’s episode, we’re taking a look at whether you can smoke while working at summer camp. So coming into our tent and I’ll spill the beans…

He’s on a quest! He’s on a quest… No, he’s not, he’s just answering questions.

Introduction – Coronavirus Updates

Hello, everyone and welcome to another Friday episode of There’s No Place Like Summer Camp because we’ve got Coronavirus. Well, speaking of which we actually do have a Coronavirus update to provide you kicking off this Friday episode of There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. So this one comes from Camp America. The update was literally the day I’m recording this Thursday, the 16th of April. So just so you’re all aware, I will try and keep these up to date and anything around Coronavirus and summer camps I’ll try and include within my podcast episodes.

Now, this one is speaking of course around the camp closures and weather camps still going ahead Camp America is still going ahead. And pretty much in short, Camp America is waiting for the governments of the US and the different states and the US Department of State to all work together and monitor their activity and guidance around travelling into America.

So America themselves are expecting an update from the Department of State by mid-May. So there is some confusion around it am I still go into camp? And what happens if I’ve got my flight out there before mid-May? So Camp America are actually getting in touch with these participants who are expecting to depart within the month of May. And you will shortly be contacted if you haven’t already. And Camp America will be working with you and your camp to make sure that any changes that need to be made will be made.

So this brings up the question of what’s actually happening with summer camps. And there has been a small number of camps that have sadly taken the decision to close their doors for the summer, which of course is a really terrible decision for any camp director to make. Camp America has itself been around since 1969. I’m sure there have been occasions when some camps would close. But I don’t think anything on a grander scale than what Coronavirus is doing to the travel industry, Camp America is going to be hit really hard by this.

So as a result, Camp America are working directly with the participants who have had their camps cancelled to either find a new position for the summer at a different camp potentially or to defer their application to the next summer.

Get in Touch if you were affected by closed camps

Now that’s pretty much all the details we have around the cancellation side of things. So if you are one of these people that have been affected, please get in touch and let me know what’s going on with your application you can go to our contact us page. And you can send me a form. It’d be interesting to hear what about people that just want to cancel their thing and just get the money back is there’s no real mention of money. Well, particularly around the Camp America fees and the visa fees, the passport. Personally, I suspect that most of the money that’s been into the Camp America program this summer will be just lost because these are fees, passport fees, checks, they’ve all been completed and Camp America have bought loads of flights.

So from the flights side of things, that’s something for Camp America to worry about and try and get their money back for the new participants to Camp America. For those that have been returning to a summer camp for a second summer or subsequent summers. You will obviously be working with your airline to get that money back rather than through Camp America. But for the fees side of things, the visas, the checks they’ve all been completed. The only thing that’s not happening is the actual going over there.

So there are a lot of things up in the air at the moment, I’d highly suggest getting in touch with your summer camp agency if you have any questions about this. I’m literally just reading off an FAQ blog post from Camp America who has recently posted.

By Camp America, I mean all similar agencies

If I haven’t said so already in this episode, I should really say it with every episode. When I do mention the words Camp America, I do try and encompass all of the summer camp agencies out there. There are plenty of them. There are upwards of five. There’s that plenty where’s the definition for plenty but seriously, I focused on Camp America, particularly Just because I did it myself. And I think that’s a real common slang name for going over to America to volunteer at a summer camp when you’re coming from abroad. Now, many camps are gonna be working on their different plans for the summer, they will have their Plan A or Plan B, the Plan C, and many more plans for the weeks and many camps are honestly considering amending their summers, which could mean that you start earlier or later and have shorter, shorter sessions. But if this is the case, of course, Camp America has been actually pretty generous here. And you will still receive the full pocket money allowance that you get, which is a term, I totally forgot that they use the words pocket money as the money that they pay you for going over there and volunteering for the summer. So if you’ve already got your wages, your number for the wages that you’re going to be getting while in summer camp, and you’re going to be maybe delayed and pushed back maybe a month or two, you’ll still get that full allowance, which is quite nice.

An update on Coronavirus and summer camp

So obviously, this is a challenging time for everyone and Camp America, we’re going to be taking a massive, massive hit. So obviously, as with everything at the moment, you’re going to have to have patience, and you’re going to have to remain positive guys, because these guys are really passionate about trying to get you over there for the summer. But really, this is really out of their hands. And it’s out of a lot of people’s hands. There are so many plans that have just fallen through and all sorts. So one of the things that come from their blog post is, if summer does not go ahead, there will be options in place.

Rest assured they will take the health and safety of the applicants very seriously. And we will not expect participants to travel if travel bans are in place. And they finish off the blog post with in true camp style you have banded together and been incredibly understanding. For now, we ask you to wait a little longer until we have further information. Once we have heard from the Department of State, we will update you once again. If you do have any questions, they do have a phone number there, I would recommend going on to the website where they have further information on the Coronavirus. And with that all out of the way. Let’s crack on with the rest of this episode.

Can you smoke while working with Camp America?

So can you smoke in camp America? We’ll start this off with my own personal opinion. And then we’ll move on to the more official line.

Okay, so most camps let you smoke at camp, okay.

But there has to be a line there has to be moderation with this, I would say personally two or three times a day maximum.

And you should only really be smoking while on your break.

And honestly, don’t be a dick and take it when others other people that you’re working with have to pick up extra work because you’re going off to have a smoke that’s really crossing the line and isn’t accepted at all at summer camp. You’re there for the kids at the end of the day. And if you’re going off to have a smoke every hour, every couple of hours even, you’re going to be frowned upon and you’re going to be brought to one side saying, pretty much look, calm it down.

Smoking area and breaks

So typically there’s going to be a smoking area. And this is going to be normally away from the kids as well as it being very well ventilated, so you don’t stink of smoke when you come back. So you do really have to consider all of these things. At my camp, we had somewhere well above and out of the way of summer camp. So the kids would have no way to know nor see the smokers. And it was really in moderation. I think some people that would normally smoke a pack a day were having one a day in the evening.

Put it on your summer camp profile

One thing that I’d really recommend around this piece, if you are really concerned about having a smoker at Camp America is, I would put it on your Camp America profile because then camps will know before hiring you that you like to have a smoke. And you can also bring it up in a video interview. I think it’s one of the questions that they may actually ask you whether you smoke because, of course, different camps have different rules, some of them won’t even let you smoke at all.

The official rules on smoking from Camp America

So this actually brings me to the next point, which is the official line from Camp America, which is really interesting. Actually, I didn’t think of this I’ll read this word for word just so I get it totally clear. And then we’ll have a discussion piece around this. So when you’re applying to Camp America, there’s a total massive long list of a contract that you have to sign and part the part that’s around the smoking is particularly interesting. Okay, so here we go.

Analysis of Camp America’s smoking policy

So you agree to abide by all lawful rules and reasonable regulations of Camp America contained herein and of the camp you have which you are placed. Please be advised that all camps have a strict no alcohol or drugs policy. Some are zero-tolerance policy camps. Some also have no smoking policies that may extend to local towns as well as campgrounds. Most camps also operate a curfew require requiring you to return to camp by a deadline when on time off. If you break any of these rules, you will be required to leave camp immediately, and be responsible for your own costs. And for costs incurred by Camp America through non payment or reduced payment or fees by the camp.

It is illegal to buy, consume or be in possession of alcohol under the age of 21. In the USA, in line with standard protocols when working with children and vulnerable adults, participants are expected to ensure all social media accounts are set to private prior to departure to the US. Participants are required to supply personal social media accounts as part of the visa application process. And the US Embassy may use this information to determine suitability for the program.

The Smoking and Drinking Laws in America

Well, well, well, that is some juicy real juiciness coming from Camp America with all their guidance. And it’s I wouldn’t say it’s guidance, it’s the fucking like law pretty much. So it surprised me to hear that all camps have a strict no alcohol or drugs policy. I’ve read plenty of other summer camp novels and diaries and insights and blog posts. So yeah, in those blog posts in those books and stuff, some of them are a lot more relaxed than my camp was around the alcohol side of things. Man, that was literally zero tolerance, it was literally just like this, if you’re seeing with any sort of alcohol, you’re out of there. If you came back drunk, you were out of there, you had to buy the next flight home out of your own back pocket, and you wouldn’t be paid for the time that you had worked at your summer camp. So of course, with everything I’m saying, please, please follow this guidance, this sort of thing, this law, this thing that you’ve signed up for is the contract, okay. But all I’m saying is I’ve seen blog posts and books written where camps were a lot less relaxed.

Smoking rules depend on the camp you work at

Of course, if your camp is more relaxed, then that would have precedent over something like this, because they wouldn’t be bringing you up on a no-alcohol policy if your camp itself has a more relaxed alcohol policy. That is the line from Camp America, no alcohol, that makes sense. Camps will also have no smoking policies that may extend to local towns and campgrounds. Most camps also operate a curfew requiring to return to camp by a deadline when on time off. That pretty much makes sense to me as well. But in my camp, we had a smoking area, which was a lot more nice. And I think it actually means that camps can hire a lot broader range of staff without having to cut people out of their recruitment process just because they like to have a smoke in the evening.

I think that pretty much covers everything smoking-wise. Of course, if you do smoke, I’d highly recommend putting it into your Camp America profile, it might put off some camps from hiring you in the first place. But it will mean that you’ll be able to get the camps that don’t really mind the smoking side of things. As long as it’s in moderation, as I’ve said before, the part they have about the social media when you go and get a visa. Now, that was really surprising to me. But it’s a guideline that’s been in place since I went to Camp America in 2014. And 2015.

The whole thing around social media is you won’t really want your social media to be privatized and locked down because kids are going to be searching for you while they finish their session of camp for the summer. Or they look forward to the people that have mentioned the camp and then they’re like, ah, no, I know this guy is going to be working on my summer camp this year. So they really do like to dig deep, and try and find out as much information about camp that’s coming up because summer camp is their main thing they look forward to every year.

Smoking at camp and your social media

So trust me when I say this, they’re gonna dig deep into these sorts of things. But this guidance from Camp America is particularly around the visa application process, which wasn’t in place when I went to summer camp. As far as I’m aware, I didn’t have to supply any social media documentation to the visa application for them to look through my social media and see whether I’d been suitable for such a visa application to a summer camp. This makes a lot of sense to me, but it does have some like privacy concerns in my opinion, but I think it’s always smart to have your social media locked down anyway. You don’t want people to be seeing everything that you’ve been doing and if you’ve been a lot of people that apply to Camp America, those that are recently out of university and if you’ve got loads of pictures of you get an absolutely smashed and your profile picture is you drunk on the floor, they’re not going to want to hire you.

So this really sums up like the whole stance that you should have when you go to any interview to be honest so I think with our other way I think that pretty much wraps up the question of can you can smoke at Camp America?

I did intend for these Friday episodes to be a lot shorter but I think this one there was so much content to actually provide you guys and I really enjoyed actually recording this episode. There was things that I learned that I didn’t know were policy around Camp America and particularly the update around Coronavirus as well as how you can get actually get kicked out if you don’t follow the camp rules.

Okay, so without the way guys that’s another episode of There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on Instagram at There’s No Place Like Summer Camp. Next week’s episode is coming up on Tuesday and in this one we’re going to be taking a look at the best campfire songs and who knows I might do a little jingle myself.

Okay, once again guys, thanks for listening. Please subscribe on your podcast platform of choice and check out the book. There’s No Place Like Summer Camp which is available on Amazon.

I’ll see you on Tuesday keep thriving and surviving.

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