“ Bunac (The British Universities North America Club)international student organization specialised in Summer Camps and work/travel overseas experience. „
One of the major advantages of BUNAC is that you can work as support staff in a summer camp, not just as a counsellor.
I didn't really want to work with the kids, and had little activity experience, but the KAMP (Kitchen and Maintenance Programme) gave me a chance to work out in a beautiful area of the states, and gain (for me) more relevant experience for casual jobs in kitchen/cleaning/laundry work.
I had an incredible, memorable time at camp, and despite my reservations, actually loved working around children and was a cabin counsellor (as well as support staff) for both sessions. I would recommend the KAMP programme for anyone who either has no specific sport/activity experience to teach the kids, or those who simply don't want that full on 24/7 contact with the kids. In my experience, you still get the camp atmosphere and the freedom to try out activities, but without the obligation to be fun and happy all the time (!)
I loved my time at camp, and will certainly return if I get the opportunity, and BUNAC were helpful and supportive throughout.
There are very few jobs where you can claim you have taught a child how to jump on a horse, created a giant paper mache toothbrush, impersonated Elvis and acted as a choir master all in the one day. If you are reading this wishing that was your job, maybe it's time you considered summer camp.
I have had the privilege to work at two summer camps now and it is an experience I have treasured, and one I could not have done without the help of BUNAC. There are a lot of companies out there offering the same services as them - Camp America, CCUSA, etc..but BUNAC has proved to be the most cost-effective way to have your working adventure.
WHAT DO BUNAC DO?
All the tricky bits! Obtaining a US work visa is near impossible without the aid of a company like this, and almost every camp will not even consider hiring an international counselor unless they are using one of these companies, and some have their preferences of who you use.
BUNAC act as a sponsor for your visa, and guide you through all the confusing paperwork. They will literally hold your hand and guide you through the battlefield of baffling terms and daunting forms.
I should also mention that BUNAC not only help people if they are wanting to work at a camp, but they have programmes in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Work America for those not wanting to work at a camp. All these progammes are open to young people although some require you to be a student and have proof that you will be returning to full-time education on your return.
As I have only had personal experience with the Summer Camp USA programme, that is what I will be talking about in this review.
COSTS AND INFO REGARDING THE PROGRAMME
The first year you use BUNAC, you are required to have them schedule your flights. You can either find your own placement using various camp job sites such as www.campjobs.com, or have them choose one based on your preferences, skills and abilities. You will attend an interview where they can assess where you would be happiest placed. Even if you have secured a placement yourself you will be required to attend an interview so they can double-check you are suitable for the job. On your first year you will also have to attend an open day, which like the interviews are held in several major cities, where you are able to ask questions, possibly meet others going to the same camp, and hear speakers talk about their experiences.
To apply you must join BUNAC, which costs £5, and a programme registration fee of £141. You also need to take out BUNAC's insurance policy which is £133. There is then a £55 visa processing fee, which you would have to pay with whichever company you went with, making the total application cost £334. BUNAC will then deduct the cost of your flights from the wages you receive from camp. The 2008 wages run at $935 for under-21s and $1075 for over-21s. I actually received the higher payment even though I was under-21 because I worked at a riding camp where barn staff were paid more than other staff, but wages are negotiated between your camp and BUNAC and, as you can see, working at a camp is very much for the experience and not for the money.
If you return the next year or any year after that to the same or a different camp, you can opt to arrange your own flights, meaning whatever salary the camp and yourself have decided upon is yours to keep, no deductions by BUNAC. The registration fee you pay depends on when you apply, but is between £195 and £255. There is also an option for BUNAC to arrange your flights and deduct $1095 from your wages, so depending on the price of flights it might be worth it. (This price does not include the embassy fees and criminal background check you are required to have).
Also remember that if BUNAC arrange your flights, you are able to change them if you want to stay travelling for longer after camp, which you may not be able to do with your private travel arrangements.
My paychecks always looked considerably healthier than my fellow international counselors who were there using different companies.
BESIDES FINANCIALLY, HOW DO BUNAC SUPPORT YOU?
BUNAC staff are second to none. They are always helpful and friendly, and explain everything thoroughly. Paperwork is sent in the right order so that you don't get confused, along with thorough guides on filling it out. You then send everything back so they can go through it and check it all looks good. They will call or write if they have any queries and always keep you informed on what will happen next.
On the day you go for your embassy visa to obtain your J1 visa, you will go to the BUNAC offices where they have a packet of all your paperwork ready for you. You are sent detailed directions which even suggest travel options for the journey to London. Staff at the office will check through everything with you, and direct you to the embassy if you are unsure, reminding you to get there in plenty of time.
The interview itself is very straightforward, although you will have to wait for hours. Afterwards your passport with the visa attached will be sent to you in the post.
ONCE I'M THERE, WILL THEY FORGET ABOUT ME?
Definitely not! BUNAC make a point of coming to visit at some point during the summer to make sure you are okay. There is also a freephone number you can call if you have any queries or want to change your return flights, which I did the first year I went without any problems at all.
WHAT ARE THE FLIGHTS LIKE?
The year I used BUNAC flights, it was on Virgin Atlantic and another counselor from my camp was on the flight so we were introduced and seated together. You do have to pay a supplement if you want to fly from a different airport although these are fairly limited so you're most likely to go from Heahtrow or Gatwick.
BUNAC flights fly into limited airports, so you might have to have a bus journey afterwards, so often a night in New York is included before you get the bus the next day. I was lucky that my camp agreed to pay for me to fly to Washington instead.
The problem with the return flights is that you don't get the details until fairly last minute. I was at the other end of the country and needed to make flights to get to my BUNAC flight, but at that point I didn't even know if it was leaving from Newark or JFK! When I finally found out it was Newark, the only flights I could get were a lot of hours earlier so I waited a long time to check in (although I did bump into a camp friend once I was there!).
ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
I could write pages and pages on what the job itself is like, but that would be another review. This was about BUNAC and I highly recommend them if you are thinking of camp, as you will definitely see more of your wages then using competitors. A lot of camps only like their international staff to use BUNAC because of the great care they take of people enrolled with them. The fees really aren't excessive considering that without them you wouldn't be able to get a visa, and the own-arranger return programme is a definite bonus, it made everything much cheaper for me and meant I could be more flexible with my after-camp plans.
The only downside would be that you have to use their insurance which is quite expensive, but I think that maybe American employers cant use their workman's comp for foreign staff, and ordinary travel insurance wouldn't cover work-related injuries, so it's just what you have to do. A girl at one of my camps had to use hers when she had an accident and BUNAC were really great getting all her costs sorted although she unfortunately did have to go home as she wasn't able to work with her injury :(
In the Summers of both 2002 and 2003 I worked at a Summer Camp for Special needs children in a place called Honesdale in the state of Penslyvannia (which borders New York State, about a three hour drive from New York City). The Camp was called Summit and it is a very very special place indeed...
I was employed as an Arts and Crafts teacher, what's known as a 'specialist' in camp language. Bascially I would run arts and crafts activities for different groups of children. During my time there I set up tie-dying t-shirts, glass painting, mosaic tiles, boat making, papier mache and many other activities. I was also involved in painting sets and making costumes for plays which take part in the evenings and I got to help out with the specialists in related activities including jewlerry making, wood shop and ceramics.
In the evenings I would also work with one bunk in particular, helping out with the evening activity and getting the kids to bed at night.
The children at Summit age from 7-18 and suffer from a variety of social and emotional problems, particularly ADHA (attention, deficit, hyperactivity disorder) and amongst others, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, aspbergers and autism. Summit's philosophy is acceptance. These are children who have not been socially accepted, they don't have friends outside camp. Thus they return year after year despite the extortionate fee's and their time at camp is often what they look forward to most the rest of the year round. The children LOVE camp and they are so happy during there time there. It makes all the hard work worthwhile!
This placement was organised for me by the comapny BUNAC. In order to apply you need to contact BUNAC around January or Febuary either online or my mail or phone to request theapplication forms. Once those are completed you will (hopefully!) be invited to attend an interview at a City nearby (e.g I was invited to Cardiff and at the time I was living in Swansea). The interview is really more of an 'informal chat' and isn't anything to worry about. Mine only lasted about 20 minutes and was only with one interviewer.
Once I was accepted onto the programme I was 'placed' at Summit given my previous experience with children with ADHD and the fact that I had specified on my application form that I wished to work with special needs children. There are all sorts of camps, camps for the average kid (varying ages), 'fat camps' (seriously), religious camps, single-sex camps, scout camps, girl guide camps etc. Each will run different activities and events. For example some camps will specialise in horse riding, others in music and drama.. If you don't have a specialist area in mind you can also apply as a general counsellor, which means you will work with, sleep with, eat with and spend all your time with one group or bunk. Counsellers take the kids around to all of the varying activities and out on day trips which is a definite plus of this role. Although sleeping in the bunks with the kids is a huge negative pointer!
You can also apply to work at a Summer Camp through the organisation Camp America. However, I would personally recommend BUNAC over Camp America. Firstly, because BUNAC do pay slightly more than Camp America which is an advantage. (Not that I mean to get you too excited about the pay that is, you do not go and work at a Summer Camp unless you want to go for the experience, the money is not a plus point of the programme). Additionally a friend applied through Camp America and she had a lot of problems contacting them while we were away in order to change the dates of her return flight.
Bunac also arrange programmes other than Summer camps. For example Work America and Work Canada and placements in more exotic locations such as Belieze and Costa Rica. For more information about these programmes check the website.
Expect to work 6 days a week, with some time off in the day and one additional evening off a week. Expect to get paid about £600 for your first year. BUNAC will pay you flights you for but you're also going to end up forking out more than you expect on membership fees, admin fees, a criminal record check, visa processing fees etc.
If the camp like you they will offer you a return contract and you stand to make quite a bit more money as you apply through BUNAC as a 'returner'. During your second year you have the option of arranging your own flight which is cheaper and you can also 'negotiate' pay with your boss!
Despite the poor pay and the long hours I definitely reccommend a Summer working at a camp in the States to anyone with a love of kids and a desire to get out of the UK and travel. I absolutely loved it and I keep in touch with many people I worked with from America the UK and from other countries! It is a valuable way to spend a Summer if you are a student and great thing to put on your CV. So... have you got a few spare months this Summer? Applications will be being taken now!!!
Check out the website at http://www.bunac.org/uk/ for more information and you can make a difference this Summer!
I first use the BUNAC Summer camp service in the summer of 2000 when i went to work at Camp Walden, near Cheboygan in Michigan. The organisation is a great way for Students and young people to travel to america, gain valuable work experience and get a chance to travel the States. The organisation basically organised everything for you including finding you a job. The day we were supposed to travel to the states in the summer of 2000 the Air Traffic Control system in the south of England went pear shaped. We were stranded in Heathrow, sat on the tarmac for a few hours while we waited for our turn to take off. This however failed to materialise and we had to go back to the airport. BUNAC were great they could not get us on a flight so British airways paid for our stay in hotel that night and we went to the airport the next day to wait on standby. BUNAC then tried for 5 days to get all 30 of us on a flight without any luck. They then decided that they could not afford to keep us at the hotel for any more nights, which was fair enough as the cost to them far outweighed the membership fees we had paid, but they managed to get us on KLM flight to the US via Amersterdam and re-arrange a bus to the camp when we got there. They keep us well informed about what was happening and treated us well. I later learned from another BUNAC member who was a returner had had to arrange his own flight that there were two sides to the coin. BUNAC did not put them in a hotel and told them they would have to queue with the thousands of people trying to get on flights the following day and the fees they paid were far greater. They had to arrange their own transport to camp when they got there and were very disappointed with BUNAC. I am planning to travel to the US with BUNAC this year(2002) and hope that lightning doesn't strike twice. BUNAC are a good organisation, especially for first timers and i would recommend them to anyone.
I am about to spend the summer on the Work America scheme in the States working in California at an amusement park on the beach and I can't wait! I orgainesd the whole thing through BUNAC who are a non profit making organisation which was set up to allow students to work around the world either in their gap years or in the long university summers. The programme that I am on is called work america and allows me to work anywhere I like in america for up to 3 and a half months, with travelling time afterwards. They offer plently of others programmes as well, including camp america (work on a childrens summer camp for the summer), work canada, australia, new zealand, ghana, jamaica etc. Basically they allow British students to work all over the world providing all excellent way of combining work with travel in another country. My programme, Work America costs a costs a total of £660, this includes: - return flights to new york, which are very flexible, allowing you to return early for re-sits or whatever. - Insurance - Bunac joining fee (about £90) - Visa payment - they sort out everything for you, and also provide reps for you at each airport, and your first nights accomodation in the USA - they provide you with a booklet filled with jobs in america that are very easy to apply for (this is how I found my job) Although I have not actaully been on the trip yet I have found BUNAC very efficent and helpful. Every query I have had they have answered very quickly and the orientation (which is compulsory to all Work America applicants so dont miss it!) was extremely informative. I have recently applied and this procedure is very simple and very quick to do, it involves minimum hassle and is explained carefully. I have now received my american visa and all the details about my trip and I cant wait for my summer in the states! I would recommend it to anyone that is considering taking a gap year or spending there s
ummer abroad somewhere different than rainy britain!
Bunac is many students ideal vehicle to spend the long summer vacation working predominantly in the United States of America in summer camps. The main advantage companies like Bunac offer is that they do all the orgainisation for you and you do not have to stump up for the price of a plane ticket upfront. On the surface it seems like the perfect deal but when you begin to scrutinize it closely things are not quite as they seem. The average length of working contract for the summer is eight weeks, at American summer camps you really do work almost 24 hours a day, you do everything with the kids. At the end of this extremely hard working period you will receive from the company you went with a cheque for about £200 or less, even when you calculate in the price of the flight, it is a pittance. There is a much more satisfactory way to achieve the same result but get paid for the work you are doing. The camp you are working at still give Bunac a hefty paycheck for your services in the summer, they then pass on a small percentage to you. The camp is just as happy to give you the money for working in the summer if you orgainise the trip yourself, it is very easy. To find a camp type in “summer jobs USA” into any decent internet search engine and then contact the camp directly. They will send you and application form and give you the address of a company who will organise you visa. All you then have to do is find a cheap flight over the internet. Everything else will be the same except you will be getting paid a good wage for that you deserve for working hard. With flights deals to the States being cheaper than ever I strongly recommend that you plan the trip yourself.
When I was 19 years old, which I started my first year degree studies in University of Southampton, my seniors who had joined BUNAC and had a great experience to travel around United States before told me about BUNAC. They guaranteed to me that I would feel regretted if I didn't try BUNAC. BUNAC is an organization that do students exchange program. It provides a great opportunity to students to work abroad in other coutries such as Australia and United States over summer vacation and traveling around the countries yourself in backpack. They helped you to do all the preparations such as visa application, works seeking and application, air ticket purchase and so forth which have saved a lot of your problems. Well, I like to try new and fresh things. Therefore I joined BUNAC and yes I went to United States to work in a theme park as a room attendant in the hotel. I must admit that it was a great experience which I will never forget. I have worked for almost two months and traveled around United States for one month. Honestly, the working period was very suffering and painful. However the traveling part was the best. The route of my travel (with some friends who went to United States together) was: Niagara Falls - Toronto (Canada) - Washington D.C. - Florida (Walt Disney World and Universal Studios) - Grand Canyon - Los Angelos - San Francisco - Chicago - New York. It was great, too great to describe in words. You should try it!
BUNAC truely provides a great channel for young people who wants to try out new things and travel or adventure into somewhere totally differnt to your home country. It is a great opportunity to being able to travel across the Atlantics and work and live with the Americans (the way they always claimed but not really liked by other true American). I am sure you will bring back a lot of memories that you won't otherwise have the chance to. It is especially someone that have never travel far from the comfort of your home. It's hard work though most of the time to earn enough money to fund your cost of travel. So, when I was there, this has motivated me to take up more overtime work in order to have more to spend when it comes to travelling. Afterall, I really enjoy my time there. So, if you have the courage and money (you have to pay for your flight, insurance in advance, plus bring some pocket money), try it!
That was the best experience I have ever had! It started when I attended the BUNAC talk which they will held in every universities throughout the year. In this talk, they will have previous BUNAC fellows to talk about his experience to us. From the talk, we will understand how this agency works and the environment of the work generally in US. It is in fact a great experience and opportunity for university students to experience life and working in USA during the summer. I have been through the program and I find it really helpful and productive. And you can earn lots of $$$ when working there. BUNAC will provide the students with the opportunity to get the work visa and we get the freedom to apply for any type of jobs we like. For more information, you can also look into their website, www.bunac.co.uk
Two years ago, I joined the BUNAC Work- Travel Programme which allowed me to fly to USA for the Summer, and work at a private family camp. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I would like to do it again, if I ever get a 2nd chance. (unlikely, as I no longer get any holidays as a research student) I worked at Camp Wipigaki, situated up-north in Wisconsin. THe town was called Lac du Flambeau, which in Red-Indian language means "Lake of the Torches". There is only one-word that can describe Camp Wipigaki: Heaven-on-Earth! It's so scenic, you just feel that you're in paradise! And oh, the people who manage the camp, they are Angels of Paradise, they are! I will never ever forget my boss(es), namely, Jon & Sue Van de Loo, and the chef I worked with, Celeste Grable. They are the nicest people anyone can ever work with....ever! So if I ever get a chance to go back that way, I will certainly nip in and say hello... And to those of you who are keen on doing a Work Travel Programme under BUNAC...Camp Wipigaki's the place to go to! And the best people to work for...I assure you....