By “H” Rothenberg Co-Owner/Director
Overnight camps have a long standing history of hiring international staff. Back in “the old days” International staff came to the U.S. to hang out with some kids, work a little bit, party a little bit and sometimes would even go up to Canada, then reenter the U.S. with a new visa. Easy Peasy. Not such the case anymore.
Today, they have to pay several hundred dollars in program fees to a company to help organize a visa. They must make an appointment sometimes a thousand miles from their home at an U.S. embassy, they must be excepted into the program and they must leave the country on a designated date. If any of these procedures are not adhered to, they get red flagged and may not be able to come back into the U.S….ever!
Then there is the camp side of things. We have a relationship with a U.S. placement coordinator. We review applications, we interview prospective staff members on the phone or skype. We have many levels of follow up interview questions, references, back ground checks, etc. We pay the agency a fee for the staff member and a sevis fee. It is all pretty complicated and as a camp, we MUST provide room and board. All just for international staff??
ABSOLUTELY! One of the greatest joys is seeing the friendships and long lasting relationships that develop amongst our staff. Most far outlast the summer. Some have even gotten engaged and married. We also have many staff that return year after year from England, South Africa, Australia, Russia, etc. It’s one thing when a staff member who grew up in Charlottesville returns for two or three years, however this summer will be Skooby’s sixth summer. Pretty special. She has become another daughter for me and Libby and an amazing big sister to so many of our campers. This year Loz from OZ will also be returning for her fourth summer after taking last year off she will be back. Travis Yuille is on his fourth year from South Africa. We also have 2nd and 3rd year barn staff from Australia (Kasey & Sasha) and Ben W. & Benny P. on their third years from England! It amazes me.
The camp really benefits. Not only do our campers get to learn about different accents, cultures, experiences, etc. we learn games from other countries like netball, cricket and touch rugby. Our international staff are the backbone of our camp and are so dedicated and committed to our campers, it is very special.
Another special aspect is the way our camp families and staff open their hearts and their homes to our international staff. Many invitations for dinner at an American home is a big deal for our staff from over seas. The average age of our international staff is 24 years old and they really want to learn about American Culture. On many occasions, our American staff’s families have invited many staff to their home to meet their extended families. All around pretty fantastic.
I could not imagine TRIPLE C CAMP without our international staff. Now in our fifteenth summer, they have become a staple of our camp and we have hundreds of friends around the world that we would not have otherwise. We look forward to this summer with great joy to work with the children, and to welcome our friends from over seas for another fabulous experience!