IENA is so excited for you to begin your adventure at camp this summer. You will have the opportunity to work hard, make lifelong friends, and make a positive impact on the lives of the campers and staff you will meet this summer. More than ever, we understand that people around the world are ready to experience something normal and fun. We cannot think of a better way to spend your summer than at camp!
This summer will be a life changing experience for you. You are traveling to a different country, experiencing new things, meeting new people, improving language skills, and working in a challenging – yet rewarding – job. You may experience culture shock or homesickness, which is normal. In those moments, remember all of the reasons that made you want to go to camp- trust me, it’s worth it! You will be stepping out of your comfort zone and have the opportunity to grow personally and learn new things about yourself along the way.
All of these experiences will make you a better global citizen. You will be exposed to moments, people, cultures, and opportunities that many people never experience in their lifetime. Many former international camp staff often attribute their experience at camp as one that made them effectively better equipped to handle challenges as they complete school and begin their careers – and many staff have often had their camp experience redefine their life goals and direction in life! Sounds like a lot for just a summer job in America, eh?
Personally, I am rooting for each and every one of you to succeed and make an impact this summer – for you personally, and for the lives you will change at camp. I’m at a stage in my life where I am no longer spending my summers at camp, so in many ways, I’m living vicariously through all of you. I have interacted with many of you throughout the past few months leading up to camp, and some of you I haven’t met yet. Regardless, all of us at IENA believe in you and the job you will do this summer!
Collectively during our years in camping, the IENA team has seen some camp staff make some poor choices which resulted in their summer getting cut short. I am hoping that none of you terminate your contract early, however, in this instance I want to be transparent and let you know what will happen.
The #1 incident that results from camp staff losing their jobs in the summer is often alcohol or drug related. Please do not come back to camp under the influence of alcohol; camps will often dismiss you for doing so. Drug use at camp or in America is illegal and can result in being fired, and additionally could lead to you being arrested by the police – which is not a pleasant experience.
A small number of staff travel to the US and quit their position within the first few days because they miss their families, or do not embrace this spirit of adventure. Please please please don’t give up! Every person who has ever quit has emailed me after the fact, regretting this decision. Thankfully, not many people quit their position at camp. Successfully navigating a situation in which you are out of your comfort zone will help you develop into a greater global citizen. Give it some time, and we promise you’ll start to experience the magic of camp!
If in the unlikely event you are dismissed or quit your job at camp, this is what will happen. It is important for you to know this information in the unlikely event this happens:
1. When you created your account with IENA, you agreed to our program terms and conditions. Among the many items on this program agreement, here is the excerpt that you agreed to if you should not complete your camp contract: “Failure to complete your camp contract, for any reason, may result in the ending of your visa program and insurance coverage and you may be required to immediately leave the USA. You will be required to return to your country of residence on the earliest available flight. Without prejudice to any other claims IENA may have, you will be responsible for any flight change fees and will be liable for any fees that would otherwise be paid by camp to IENA on your behalf (up to $1,100).”
2. When dismissed from camp, you will have an opportunity to speak to a representative from IENA, who will walk you through the next steps. Camp will pay you up to your last day of work. Your program with IENA will end and you will have to leave the country within a short period of time. Most people depart the country within 24-48 hours. Camp will give you access to the internet and/or phone so you can change your flights, and provide transportation to the nearest transportation hub (local bus or train station). You will be responsible for any fees incurred for your early departure from camp, such as paying any flight change fees, costs to travel to the airport, hotel, meals, etc… You will also be required to obtain and pay for your own Covid-19 test in order to travel home, at your own expense.
3. Often when a staff member is dismissed from camp, you will not get a chance to say goodbye to your friends, campers, or fellow staff. In many cases, you will be escorted to your room to pack your items, and then you will be transported off of camp immediately. We will make sure you have our contact phone number so you can keep in touch with IENA as you depart the US and travel home. We recognize that being dismissed from a job (especially in another country) can be a stressful moment – we are here to help provide guidance, support, and help.
4. As a participate on the BridgeUSA program, you have agreed to have access to emergency funds for use during the summer, if needed. This may be access to personal funds, a credit card, a family member who can wire transfer/ Venmo you funds, etc. Every applicant is required to enter the US with access to personal funds they can quickly access in the event of an emergency (this is also listed on your DS-2019 Form.)
5. As mentioned in point #1, you will be responsible for any fees paid by camp to IENA on your behalf (up to $1,100). The exact fee amount will be communicated to you either at the time you are speaking to an IENA representative, or shortly after via email.
6. NEW FOR 2021: In the event of an early departure from camp, you will be required to take a Covid-19 test before you can fly home. You will be responsible for organizing and paying for this Covid-19 test.
7. NEW FOR 2021: This summer, your camp may have specific rules in regards to health and safety to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. Camps are following the guidance of their local health departments and will treat a breach of these rules very seriously. Failure to follow health and safety rules in regards to Covid-19 may result in your dismissal from camp. Be smart, and be safe!
I know this is not a great topic to discuss, and the vast majority of you reading this will never have this apply to you. However, I felt it would be helpful for you to know what happens in the case of losing your job (either being fired or quitting/resigning). We do not want to see anyone lose their job, quit, or choose to end their experience. We believe whole-heartedly in your abilities to make a difference at camp!
As always, thank you for the impact you are about to make. Whether you are working directly with children or working behind the scenes to keep camp running smoothly, you are making a difference to children (and yourself!) who will grow up to become global citizens on our planet.