USA J1 Summer Camp


Status : Program Open
Embassy : Open
Vaccination Required : No
PCR Required to Enter : No

Summer camp in America is a massive tradition and we believe there is nothing more culturally unique. There are an estimated  12,000 camps spread all over the country and each summer some 11 million children and adults attend camp.


A typical day at Summer Camp in the USA

At camp, participants can work directly with American children, instructing or assisting them in activities. Because we work with numerous different types of camps and place thousands of people, there are opportunities available for everyone. Camp is a truly international environment and you will make friends with people from all corners of the globe, meaning you will have unbelievable fun travelling with them after camp and then visiting them in their own country.

Working with hundreds of summer camps located all over the USA, Camp America offers a huge range of work placements to everyone. From lively private camps to rewarding special needs camps - whatever your skills or interests, we are bound to have a camp to suit you!

It is likely that you will end up taking part in many of the activities as well - so while you do not need to be an expert, a flexible have-a-go attitude is essential. On a typical camp day, you could find yourself skipping from tennis to archery, to pottery... then finding yourself jumping off a double-decker boat into a lake, cheered on by your campers! You will also find that you take a full and active role in the general areas of camp, from looking after a table of kids at meal times to entertaining at the flagpole or singing around the campfire.

Advanced Skills Counsellors are the all-action heroes of summer camp. They take on the overall responsibility of organizing and instructing in a particular activity. They are the experts in their chosen field and are assisted by counsellors.
As an advanced skills counsellor, it is likely that your days will be dedicated to coaching one specific area and although camps hire instructors in a wide variety of areas, we are on the lookout for highly skilled applicants with formal experience and expertise in the following skill areas:

- Archery                                      
- Wall Climbing & Rock Climbing
- Gymnastics (apparatus & trapeze)    
- High & Low Ropes
- Lifeguarding & Water Sports          
- Motorboat Driving
- Musical Instruments
- Bike Riding                                        
- Riflery & Robotics
- Sailing & Windsurfing                      
- Tennis & Horseriding
- Waterskiing &Wakeboarding          
- Yoga & ceramics

Once you have completed your application, our placement team in the USA will determine whether your application meets the criteria of an Advanced Skills Counsellor. If you are offered an advanced role on camp you are likely to qualify for a higher rate of pocket money.

So... if you take your sport or craft seriously and have some formal coaching experience - the Advanced Skills Counsellor role could be right up your street!

PRIVATE/INDEPENDENT: traditional summer camps that have been around for many years, owned by families and catering for children of high-income families. Activities include various water sports, tennis and even rock climbing or circus skills.

SPECIAL NEEDS: camps catering for campers with physical or mental disorders. Smaller groups and a wider age range of campers. An extremely rewarding and unique experience.

AGENCY/NON-PROFIT: camps run by charitable organizations, catering for local community children - camps typically last 1 to 2 weeks.

GIRL SCOUTS: girls only camps, focusing on outdoor activities like hiking, teambuilding and cooking over the campfire.

FAITH-BASED: camps focus on religious activities and practices. Christian & Jewish camps are extremely popular.

SPECIALITY: these camp types have one particular interest for example tennis, gymnastics or drama. Counsellors with strong skills in a particular field are perfect candidates.

UNDER-PRIVILEGED: camps for homeless or less financially-set campers, hosted by charities, companies or organizations offering children of different backgrounds a chance to enjoy camp life.

DAY CAMPS: typically hosted at schools or community halls, children only come during the daytime and counsellors typically live with a host family.

Camp Pocket Money
$1500 - $2000

*Applicants returning to the program and to the same camp will confirm pay rates with their Camp Director from the prior season.


- Any persons aged 18 to 30+
- Male and female candidates
- Valid passport - Apply now if you do not have one
- Experience working with young people is an advantage
- Knowledge of any particular sport or activity offered at the camps is necessary
- Working with people with special needs is a bonus
- Lifeguarding certificates/watercraft licenses are a bonus

Start/Finish Dates

Camp counsellors should ideally be available to travel to the USA anytime between 1 May to the end of June. Camp duration varies, depending on the type of camp you are placed at, as well as the duties that you will perform. Most camps are 9 - 11 weeks from the day of arrival plus up to 30 days to travel in the USA once your placement is complete.

Visa Info

Camp counsellors travel to the USA on a J1 Cultural Exchange visa. OVC will assist with the application process and do everything possible to ensure your visa is approved. The J1 camp visa is valid for the entire duration of your camp contract and allows all camp counsellors to travel for up to 30 days after completion of your camp contract. This means you can spend around 3-4 months in America!


Admin fee R4950
Program fee Varies with Placement
Visa fees $185 Visa, R315 Return Passport via Courier or collect for free from DUR/JNB/CPT DHL office
Travel Insurance Included
Airfare (approx) R15 000 - R30 000 (Flight packages avail. to SA applicants)
Recommended Spending Money $500


To apply, contact your local OVC office as soon as possible. OVC will send you all the relevant application forms and links, and assist in putting together the best Camp Counsellor application possible.

When completing your application, it is important to mention all your skills, to create a great video and ensure that your personality shines through your application. The more complete and in-depth your application, the better impression you will make to Camp Directors to ensure a speedy placement!

Tips for creating your application video - click here

More Info

OVC work with leading partners in the USA to offer the greatest American experience. Every summer, over 8000 young people to work at camps across 50 states in the USA. Camp America is the best, and most experienced, at what they do and send far more young people to camp than any other summer camp provider.

OVC Success Stories - click here


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