International Support Staff
Support Staff play a very important role at camp, helping to keep camp operations running smoothly and efficiently behind the scenes. All jobs at summer camps are important to its operation and summer camps throughout the US hire domestic and international staff members to help fill a wide range of support staff positions. Support Staff at US summer camps encompass all of the non-counselor areas of the summer camp operation.
- Kitchen: chef, baker, cook, kitchen assistant, dishwasher and waiter/waitress
- Office: secretary, programming, accounting and filing
- Maintenance: general grounds keeping, handyman, security and drivers
- Cleaning: laundry, janitor, porter, garbage collection and housekeeping
When considering employment with a summer camp, it is important to understand the personal and professional benefits that are possible. Read more here.
Although qualifications vary based on camp setting and camp size most camps are looking for candidates that must:
- Be a mature adult over the age 18.
- Have previous experience in areas related to camp support staff positions.
- Be willing to work long hours in a team setting.
- Have no criminal record.
- Be independent and self-motivated.
- Be eligible for the J1 summer work travel visa.
Camps vary in many ways including location, program offerings, facilities and dates of operation. However, there are similarities in all summer camps for the support staff. Following are some of those similarities:
In most cases, support staff are housed together in a bunk-like or dormatory-like arrangement. The bunk conditions will vary on location and will range from wilderness cabins to modern college dormitories, but all staff must understand that they will, in most cases, have one or more roommates. (privacy is at a minimum).
Roles and Responsibilities:
Summer camp support staff roles and responsibilities vary depending on the position offered. Often, staff who work in the kitchen or in grounds and maintenance will regularly begin work at an earlier hour to prepare the camp for the day while staff who work in the office might work on a shift basis where hours vary. Support staff work as a team and may at times of need, help in a variety of areas. Although support staff are not directly responsible for campers, it is usually encouraged that all staff get involved in special events and all-camp activities such as talent shows and international days. During time off, camps typically permit staff members to enjoy the campus and the facilities; to play tennis, play basketball, go for a swim, etc. If you love being around kids and being in the outdoors, working at a summer camp is ideal.
As you go through the application and interview process you will be able to speak with camp directors about their particular camp and your role as a support staff. Information about their expectation, salary, time off, etc. will be outlined for you so you can make an informed decision to accept or decline an offer.
Support Staff work schedules vary depending on the role and the camp. Most employees work up to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, which although long, is less than the counseling staff. The hours may vary and there may be split shifts. On days off and time off, you will be able to take time to get involved with the campers, to take advantage of the facilities or to relax quietly and enjoy the beautiful landscaping and views.
Most camps are exempt of minimum wage laws including overtime pay as it is a seasonal industry. Camps typically provide as compensation free lodging, free meals, and a set salary for a 63 day contract with pay per day for work thereafter. Laws vary by state and job role.
Season & Duration
The typical US summer camp season runs from the beginning to mid June through mid to late August with average employment between 9-11 weeks, however, many support staff have opportunities to extend employment to encompass some pre-camp and post-camp work possibilities as long as the dates remain within your university dates and is also within the acceptable summer work travel dates. This time frame is perfect for those who want to work and still have time to travel or to rest up for the upcoming school year.