Working at a summer camp in America is popular gap year option for many young Australians. Typically this is the first time they will have worked abroad, which means there will be lots of questions. We are here to answer all your Summer Camp USA FAQ and ensure you have a great camp experience.

On our Summer Camp USA program there are so many things to consider; can I travel with a friend? Am I eligible for the visa? How much will it cost? When should I apply? What is included in the package? And so on… We recommend reviewing our Summer Camp USA FAQ below to learn more about the nitty gritty details of the program. If we don’t answer your questions here just give us a call on 1300 797 702, or contact us.


Who is eligible for Summer Camp USA?

Those aged between 18-30 years (18 must show excellent leadership experience and have great skills)

  • Australia or New Zealand passport holder – for other nationalities contact us.
  • Like children and have experience with them (see below), ideally in a leadership role
  • Available for at least 8-10 weeks from mid-June. Most camp contracts start before 21st June.
  • Are cheerful, energetic, friendly, hard-working, tolerant, flexible, conscientious, caring, reasonably gregarious, uncomplaining and able to adapt to camp life including the long hours, rules and curfews.
  • Have some skills or qualifications in one or more of the camp activity areas. Your chances of being placed are higher if your skills and qualifications are in one of the areas highlighted as being in high demand.
Can I extend the camp visa?
Unfortunately you can’t extend the camp counsellor J-1 past your working dates at camp.
I can’t commit for the full camp season (8-10 weeks). Can I still go?
To be eligible for the program you must be able to commit to working the full summer camp season. If you cannot commit to the 8-10 weeks the summer camps are requesting you will not be hired.
Do I need a criminal record check?
Yes. Since you are working with children you will need to get a criminal record check. IEP will provide you with the documents you will need to fill out and send away.
I have a criminal conviction, am I eligible?
It all comes down to what the conviction was and when it happened. The best thing to do is contact IEP at [email protected] or call 1300 797 702 and we will let you know whether you are eligible for the program.


What is included in the program?
  • Guaranteed summer camp placement
  • J1 Visa Sponsorship
  • Pre departure travel info to prepare you for your trip. PLUS a departure orientation covering; camp life, American culture, transportation in the US, mobile phones, taxes and employment laws, and much more.
  • Medical insurance included in fee
  • HIGHEST camp salary in Australia – you make more money with IEP
  • 10% off Trek America tours
  • Flight deals through STA
  • Arrival orientation
  • Free food while at camp
  • Free accommodation while at camp
  • 30 day travel after camp
Why choose Summer Camp USA over other camp organisations?

There are many different camp organisations in Australia, but here is where we set ourselves apart:

  • Only $99 to start an application
  • Low fees – we are the most affordable provider in Australia
  • Highest camp salary. You are doing all the work at camp and we feel you should be paid for it! Other organisations will take a cut of your salary – we don’t.
  • Guaranteed placement or your money back
  • Simple and stress free application process- no need to worry about creating a video- We want to get to know the real you over the phone or face to face!
  • Great flight deals through STA Travel
  • 24/7 support in NZ and USA
  • Over 20 years experience
  • Easy online application system
Do I have to take insurance through IEP?
Medical insurance is already included in your program fees. If you would like to be covered for the entirety of your trip, rather than just while you are at work, IEP can help with getting you a great insurance deal.
Can I choose my camp?
You can request a certain camp, but we cannot guarantee you will be placed there. What we do is match your skills, activities of interests and personality to one of the 1000’s of camps we work with.
How long is camp?
Summer camp runs between late May and mid August for 8-10 weeks.
When will I leave for camp?
When you leave depends on your contract. Most camps will start late May or early June.
How much will camp cost overall?

Total: $499AUD Application fee: $99 to start an application! Acceptance fee: $200 (Paid upon completion of online camp application & interview with our summer camp placement team.) Placement fee: $200 (Paid once your camp placement is confirmed. The placement fee includes medical insurance & also your J1 Visa SEVIS fee.) Other costs to consider: Visa: USD$160 – the SEVIS fee is included in your acceptance fee Reciprocal Passport Fee: $105USD Insurance: Basic medical insurance coverage is included in your acceptance fee Proof of funds: USD$400 Flights: approx. $2200 return So all up you are looking at spending roughly $3840. Click here for a full cost breakdown

When will I be placed?
That really is a tough question! It depends on what past experience you have working with kids and what leadership roles you’ve held.  We will initially screen after you first apply and if we feel you need to have more experience to be placed we will let you know. It also depends on how fast you can complete the application. The sooner we have it completed and in the US the sooner you will be placed.
Am I guaranteed a camp placement?
Yes. Summer Camp USA guarantees you a camp placement or you get a full program refund.
How much money will I make?

Summer Camp USA offers the one of the HIGHEST salaries in Australia!

  • If you are under 21 years: up to USD$1,650
  • If you are aged 21+ years: up to USD$1,800
  • Work at a special needs camp and you can earn an additional USD$100
  • If you are a returning counsellor you are free to negotiate your own salary with the camp directly, salaries are typically USD$2,200 or more.
How much experience working with children do I need?
For this program you will need to have some experience working with kids. This could include: teaching, day-care, sport coaching, volunteering, leadership roles at school, church groups, clubs etc.
What skills are in high demand at camp?


  • Lifeguards – Pool or Surf Certified
  • Motor Boat Driving
  • Sailing
  • Swimming Instructors
  • Windsurfing
  • Water skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Kneeboarding


  • Circus
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Skateboarding
  • Tennis
  • Judo/Karate


  • Ceramics and pottery
  • Metal/Silver Smithing
  • Woodworking


  • Archery
  • Trip Leader
  • Canoe Tripping
  • Go Carts / ATV/ Motor Cross
  • Ropes – High & Low
  • Horseback Riding
  • Mt Biking
  • Riflery
  • Rock Climbing
  • Nature Study


  • Christian Bible Studies
  • Disability/Special Needs experience
  • Jewish Studies
  • Scouting experience
  • Social Work
  • Photo (digital)
  • Animal farm
  • Radio


  • Guitar
  • Piano
What is accommodation like at camp?
  • Cabins
  • Tents
  • Yurts
  • Bunkhouses

It is usually communal living, so you will most likely be living with campers and other counsellors.

What is food like at camp?
Camp food does vary camp to camp. Food is prepared in bulk, so buffet style is popular. You will find many have salad, breakfast and desert bars. They sometimes have international nights where they cook food from around the world and cookouts/BBQ’s are also popular!
Do I get weekends off?
Generally you will be given one day off at camp a week
If I don’t like my camp can I change?
If you are not enjoying camp it is important to let us know. We will then be able to work on a solution. That could be changing your role or finding you another camp placement
If I don’t like my department can I change?
Camps hire you for certain roles and that makes it rather difficult to change your role. If you not enjoying your role, we ask that you speak with the camp director or your manager. When you are initially interviewing for your role it is a good idea to get a job description from the camp director so you know exactly what you will be doing.
Where are Camps located?
There are over 12,000 summer camps in the US. The majority are found long the east coast and mid west of the US.
How old will the campers be?
The summer campers will be between the ages of 6-16 yrs. You can find that many generations of families attend the same camp over the years. Summer camp is pretty much a rite of passage for many Americans.
Will Camps/the Camp Director contact me?
Yes. If the summer camp is interested in hiring you they will most probably contact you via Skype or over the phone for a interview.
Can I go to Canada after camp?
Absolutely. It is quite common for summer campers to head to Canada afterwards on IEP’s Work Canada program. This is a great way to extend your adventure and add a Canadian working holiday to the end. Our participants tend to travel through the US for the 30 days after camp and then head to our offices in Canada where they often find work at ski resorts for the coming winter season.
How do I find out more info?
The best place to find out more is here on the website! We also host information sessions throughout the country and this is a great way to learn more. If you cannot make it to an info session you can give us a call at 1300 797 700, email [email protected] or find us on Facebook.


How do I apply?

We offer a simple and stress free application process- no need to worry about creating a video! We want to get to know the real you over the phone or face to face! You will start by filling out our online application. We will then be in touch to start to organize and interview with our camp placement team as well as start our online camp application which will outline your skills, activities of interest, experience working with kids as well as a couple references. We will then review all of your application to ensure it looks great and then send it off to some camps in the US. How fast this happens, really depends on how fast you work on your application. Start an application now!

What is the difference between a general camp counsellor and an activity camp counsellor?
There are two types of counsellors at camp and which one you will be placed at depends on your past experience and skills. Activity Counselor is someone with a particular skill who will teach an activity during the day, but still have a cabin of campers that you are responsible for. General Counselor is someone with general experience working with children in a leadership role and will be responsible for taking the same group of kids to activities during the day.
I don’t have a particular skill or activity I could teach. Can I still apply?
It is not a program requirement that you have a specialist skill in a particular activity, though it is preferable. If you are more of an all-rounder where you have a little experience in a variety of activities you maybe placed as a general counsellor.
Can I work with a friend/partner?

It is possible, but we just cannot guarantee it. It is important that if you want to attend camp with a friend to apply early as that will increase your chances. You should know:

  • If you are placed at a camp with your friend you won’t necessarily get the same days off. It is best if you plan to do your travels together after camp in that 30 day grace period
  • Summer Camps prefer to hire individuals because they usually will make more of an effort to fit in with other staff make new friends.
  • You will not be living in the same accommodation, so it will be difficult to spend time with your friend
  • Summer Camps tend to steer away from hiring friends since if one of them becomes unhappy – the other usually follows suit. If one decides to leave, chances are the other is not too far behind
  • Summer Camps have specific roles they are trying to fill. So if you have the skill or activity experience they are looking for in one role and your friend doesn’t you are limiting your chance of placement.
  • By trying to be placed with a friend can look negative to a camp. They are looking for independent people and by asking to be placed with a mate it may be viewed as not being mature enough for the job

Like we said earlier, we’ve placed friends before but we really do not encourage it. If you still keen to apply early make sure you:

  • Apply early to enhance your chances of placement together
  • Complete both of your applications at the same time, including references
  • Have a variety of skills to offer – don’t both be going for that life guarding role
Can I apply if I have a medical condition?
It really depends on the medical condition. Some medical conditions may exclude you from the program. The best thing to do if you have a medical condition is contact IEP at 1300 797 700 or [email protected] to discuss the condition as we review them on a case by case basis.
When is the latest I can apply for Summer Camp USA?
Applications usually stay open until April. The earlier you apply the better chance of being placed at a summer camp. Ideally we want to have your application in the US before the end of year. This means your application will be in the camp director’s hands first! As well there will be more summer camp positions available.
Do I need a passport to apply?
No & yes. You can apply for the program without a passport and we can start on your getting your application sorted, but before we send it to the camp directors we will need a copy of your passport.
When should I apply?
The earlier you apply the better! You will increase your chance of placement by getting that application started early and save money on your application fee!


Can I travel anywhere in the US after camp?
After summer camp you can travel anywhere in the US for up to 30 days.
Can I travel before camp?
We do not recommend that you travel before you camp, but it is possible for special circumstances. If you wish to travel before camp please contact us with your plans and we will be able to let you know whether it is possible.
Can I travel with my friend/partner?
Absolutely. After camp is finished you can travel with whomever you like!
Will I have the opportunity to meet other people on the program before I leave?
Yes. Once you apply you will be able to meet other participants through our Facebook page.
Can I drive in the US on my license?
Yes you can, if you have the appropriate licence and have checked the regulations in the state you will be residing.


Do I have to book with STA Travel?
It’s not compulsory but recommended. We have an in-house STA Travel team that books a lot of our summer campers travels. You can contact STA Travel’s Working Holiday branch at 1300 850 485 or email [email protected]


Can I go back to the same camp?
Yes and what’s even more exciting is that you get to negotiate your own salary!
Can I go back to a different camp?
Yes – if you will just need to sign up to our Summer Camp USA first time program.
How do I apply as a Returner?

To apply as a returner just follow these 5 easy steps!

  • Apply online for returning to summer camp
  • Get a contract from Camp
  • Get two references on our reference form
  • Complete the application form (much shorter than your first year!)
  • Send us a photocopy your previous J1 visa and passport, a reference and copy of your contract…. then leave the rest to us!