Signing up as a first-time applicant for the J1 Camp program is an exciting process. However, we know new applicants have questions about the process. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions for first time camp applicants.
- What types of jobs are available at camp?
On the IENA camp program, jobs are divided into two categories: camp counselor or support staff. When you sign up for the camp program with IENA, you will need to select one of these job titles.
A camp counselor’s main responsibility is working directly with children at camp. As a counselor, you are responsible for the children’s general wellbeing. There are several different types of positions that are classified under the title “counselor”:
- General counselor- this person may be assigned a group of campers you are responsible for, and lead them to different activities throughout the day. Often, general counselors will sleep in the bunk with their campers.
- Specialist- this person leads one specific activity at camp for the campers. Specialist activities range from arts & crafts, challenge course/ ropes, soccer coach, archery, horseback riding, etc. If you have any certifications or strong skills in one specific area, please include this on your application- you could make a great specialist!
The second job category is support staff. Support staff work in the “behind the scenes” jobs at camp, to ensure that the day-to-day running of camp goes smoothly. Support staff do not work directly with campers and are not directly responsible for their wellbeing. Often, support staff will NOT bunk with campers, but share housing with other support staff. There are several types of support staff roles:
- Kitchen Staff
- Office Worker
- Maintenance Crew
- What are the eligibility requirements?
In order to apply for the camp program, there are basic eligibility requirements:
- Aged 18 by June 1st
- Support Staff MUST be full time students in a degree program in a college or university at the time of applying. They will work at camp on their summer break. (Counselors do not need to be full time students to apply.)
We encourage all applicants to apply if they have strong English; are available for roughly eight to 10 weeks from mid-May/ early June to August; have previous experience working with children.
- How much will I get paid?
IENA has salary minimums in place for our participants- it is important to us that our applicants go home with a healthy paycheck for your hard work! If you are ages 18-20, your salary minimum is $1,600 for up to a nine-week contract. Applicants who are ages 21+ earn a salary minimum of $1,750 for up to a nine-week contract.
- Do I need a recruiter?
All first-time applicants with IENA must work with a local recruiter from their home country. If you do not have a recruiter when you sign up, IENA will connect you with a local recruiter. The benefits of working with a recruiter are that you work with someone from your country who speaks your native language, who can help you with your application and answer any questions you may have. This person is also located in your country, so they are located in (or closer to) your time zone than the IENA office may be!
- Do I need to apply with a sponsor?
Yes! This is where IENA comes in. IENA is a designated Department of State J1 Visa Sponsor. J1 applicants on the camp program MUST have a visa sponsor. Applicants will work with a local recruiter, who will help them complete their application. Once this is complete, IENA reviews your application, helps you find a camp job, and processes your visa paperwork.
- Can I work at the same camp as my friend?
We cannot guarantee that friends will be placed at the same camp. Applicants apply for the camp program individually, not as a group. If applicants insist on being placed at the same camp, this will decrease their chances of finding a placement for the summer.
- What documents do I need to apply?
When applying to the camp program, first time applicants will need to submit the following documents:
- Copy of your valid Passport
- Recent Police Background Check from your home country
- We recommend that you apply for a police background check as soon as you apply for the camp program. Obtaining a police background check can be a lengthy process and take up to six weeks. We currently accept Police Background Checks dated September 1, 2018 or after.
- Proof of Student Status FormThis is required ONLY FOR SUPPORT STAFF. Support Staff applicants should bring the IENA form to their college, and have it completed by a university staff member to prove they are a full-time student
- How does the application process work?
An applicant can expect to follow these basic steps when signing up for the IENA camp program.
- Create an application on IENA.org as either a camp counselor or support staff
- Work with your local recruiter to complete your application
- Find a job! If a camp is interested in an application, it will be placed “In Review” with that camp. The camp may reach out to the applicant for an interview. Applicants may only be on review and interview with one camp at a time.
- After an interview, if you are unsuccessful your application will be taken “Off Review” and become visible to other camps. If your interview is successful, you will be marked “Placed” and receive a contract from your new camp.
- Application will then be reviewed by IENA for processing. After an application has been processed, your DS2019 (Certificate of Eligibility) will be shipped to you with instructions for your next steps.
- Applicant will receive their DS2019 in the mail, complete online forms, and book a US Embassy Interview. A visa is either approved or denied at the US Embassy in your home country.
- What types of camps are there?
IENA works with several different types of camps. The most common is a resident sleepaway camp. These camps average a seven-week summer, and you will live at camp during this time. Day camps typically run from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Many applicants working at a day camp will either live on site at camp, if there are facilities available, or with a local host family.
There can be further differences in these two categories- an all-girls camp, an all-boys camp, co-ed camps, special needs camps, camps for disadvantaged children, performing arts camps, sports camps, etc. On the application, we ask you to list what types of camps you would like to work at- and what camps you do NOT want to work at. While we hope that you keep an open mind when indicating your camping preferences, we ask that you be as honest as possible in order to help find the best camp for you.
- How much will all of this cost?
Costs for a first-time applicant may vary, depending what country you are from. Different recruiters have different fee structures, often in the local currency. This may affect the total cost that an applicant pays. Different countries also have different deadlines, which effect fees. For example, fees for Mexican applicants are structured on deadlines, so the sooner you sign up, the lower your fee will be!
If you have questions about fees, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will put you in touch with a local recruiter who can advise you on fees for your country.
There are some things that are not included in your fees to IENA, for all applicants. Flights, the fee for your police background check, and the fee to book your US Embassy appointment are not included in your IENA fees.
There is also a $35 SEVIS fee for all J1 applicants; IENA includes this $35 fee into your program fee. Participant insurance is also included in your fee for the summer!