|Matt throwing up the double peace signs as he leads his squad on banquet day|
Since 2010, Foley has had the privilege to be the proud employer of more than 20 international staff members. The vast international presence in camp is undoubtedly one of the most exciting facets of the camping experience.
“MOM! You won’t believe it, my counselor, Matt, is from the Czech Republic and he is the COOLEST.” – Campers in Cabin Kadigomeg 2017.
This international experience is made possible by the J-1 Visa, which allows individuals to come to the US on a cultural exchange work program. Earlier this year, the “Buy American Hire American” executive order put obtaining a J1-Visa at risk, which would be a major bummer to camps far and wide. In honor of camp professionals continuously pushing forward to ensure the camp counselor portion of the J1-Visa is not impacted, we’d like to share some heartwarming words about what camp means to an international counselor as well as how one of our American campers feels about the amazing international staff who call camp home.
“When you go camping in the US as an international counselor, as I did, the process for getting there can look a little daunting. Flights, J1-Visa applications, paperwork, and interviews can look intimidating. But is it worth it? Yep. You bet it is.
There isn’t anything like spending a summer at camp in the US, with each camp having their own ingrained culture, community, focuses, and the opportunity to be a part of something that should not be forsaken.
|Jimmy sharing his passion for biking|
I can’t talk about being an international counselor without thanking the team at Camp Counselors USA for getting me there. I don’t care how organized or mature you are, it’s awesome to have someone hold your hand and walk you through the process. You’ll find that virtually all camp organizations will be amazing in their own ways. I heard no complaints about organizations from the other internationals, all positives.
I mentioned earlier that all of the paperwork to get to camp and even once you’re there can be a bit daunting. But I want to reiterate that it is 100% worth it. Camp gives you endless opportunities to grow as a person and make a difference in someone else’s life. Be a superhero in the eyes of a ten-year-old even though you don’t see yourself as a hero. Be a life coach. Be life coached! Learn more about yourself and about how other people work. I took so many valuable skills home from camp, some basic, like how to do laundry, and some were genuinely life-changing. Learn how to comfort grief, how to brighten someone’s day, how to give purpose to someone who believes they have no purpose. The camp is not easy, it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to make you a better person, whether you’re a counselor or a camper. The camp is definitely worth it and it could not have been possible without the J1-Visa.”
“It is absolutely amazing, the things you can learn from all the staff coming from different countries. Their beliefs and different cultural backgrounds always intrigue me. The diversity at Foley is what sets is apart from other camps and is one of my favorite parts about Camp. It is crazy how much you can know about another place after spending just two weeks with a person. Camp wouldn’t be the same without the international staff.”
We are excited to make even more memories with international staff as they all play an important role in our culture. The J1-Visa is a vital part in allowing us to do just that. If you would like to read more into the logistics behind how the J1-Visa could be impacted, please check out this Public Policies Article that appears on the ACA website.