One of the great things about being a student is the opportunity to use the extensive summer break to broaden your horizons, and have a bit of an adventure at the same time.
For students who have always wanted to work and travel in North America, two programmes run by BUNAC could be just the ticket.
Both BUNAC’s Summer Camp and Work America schemes offer participants the chance to live and work for up to four months in the States – including spending a month exploring the vast, diverse country before it’s time to board the plane home for the start of the new academic year.
One of the longest established ‘working adventure’ organisations, BUNAC has been running its Summer Camp programmes for over 40 years, sending more than 120,000 Brits to the US for an experience of a lifetime.
But what exactly does working on a summer camp involve?
Summer camps are something of an institution in the US, where school holidays can last for up to three months. Many children come to camp for a season of wholesome outdoor activities, to make new friends and to enjoy the camaraderie of an all-American tradition.
Each year BUNAC helps to place British university students at camps across New England and the north-east US, where they will spend between 8 and 10 weeks working and living on site. Participants use and develop their skill set as they instruct and coach children in a range of fun pursuits. Activities that students might end up teaching vary from swimming, horse riding and rock climbing to arts and crafts, music and even circus skills.
But the role encompasses more than that. Participants are referred to as counselors, and they act as a mentor to a small group of children, ensuring they are coping with camp life and helping to get the most out of their summer. When not leading activities, other things counselors might be involved in include cooking, supervising (and sleeping in) dorms, and organising entertainment. It’s an all-consuming experience – BUNAC counselors are effectively on call 24 hours a day to ensure the welfare of the campers. But it’s also a hugely rewarding challenge during which people learn a tremendous amount about themselves.
Applying for Summer Camp
With the UK still in the grip of winter, the balmy days of summer can seem a long way off. But for students who think that they might like to get involved this year, now is the time to put the plan into action. BUNAC encourages applications between September and February (and the earlier the better) for the following summer, with a series of interviews held around the UK in late January and early February. Costs to enrol on the scheme are £549 (plus £145 for visa, as well as the cost of a police background check and medical), which includes return flights, food and accommodation in camp, one night’s stay in Boston on arrival, and medical insurance. Each counselor is also given up to $1,000 spending money for their labours on the camp.
For full details of how to apply, click here.
For those who would prefer a more regular job than summer camp, BUNAC offers a couple of ways to organise a working summer of up to four months in the States. The Full Placement Programme provides university students with a selection of guaranteed seasonal jobs (including hotel and bar work, country club staff, and amusement park ride operators). Alternatively, on the Self Placement scheme, students can utilise BUNAC’s database of jobs and support to source their own employment. The schemes cost £695 and £495 (plus £145 visa fee) respectively (without flights).
For more details, click here.
The golden ticket
One of the main reasons to arrange a spell in the States during a summer break is that students are in the fortunate position of being entitled to apply for a J-1 visa – a golden ticket, if you like, enabling holders to work short-term in the US. Once students have graduated, it’s pretty much impossible to get a flexible working visa for the USA – so for anyone who has America on their agenda it’s worth taking advantage of student status.
Fantastic travel opportunities
After completion of either the Summer Camp or Work America programmes, BUNAC participants can round off their summer in the States by travelling around the country for up to 30 days before they fly home. And while the summer camps are mainly located in the north-east of the country, there are no limits to where people can venture to – whether it’s sampling the Deep South, exploring the deserts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona, or travelling up the west coast, this vast, enthralling country is one huge adventure playground. The challenge is to pack in as many adventures as possible before university starts again.
If you're interested in either of the programmes, check out BUNAC's choice of programmes.