A Summer with CCUSA
by Sarah Baber
Have you started thinking about what you want to be doing this summer? Well here's an idea for you - working abroad. Upsides to this include making money, getting a tan, meeting new people, seeing new places, enhancing your CV and most importantly, not having to give up your hard fought university freedom by retreating back to the parental home. Downsides are buying a rucksack and not knowing anyone in Neighbours when you come back.
The choice is clear, but once you've made the liberating decision to flee the country, a few small details remain to be ironed out. Mainly where do you go, what do you do and how do you do it? This is where CCUSA come in. CCUSA is a company, which has given over 100,000 students and young people the opportunity to work and travel in America, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Every year thousands of international young people go to work on American summer camps, which exist in every state apart from Hawaii (sorry 'bout that!). You probably already have an idea of the traditional summer camp. However the truth is every single one is different, from Dirty Dancing style family camps (Johnny and watermelons not included) to special needs camps, camps for inner city kids to rich, private independent camps for kids as rich as Tommy Hillfiger's kids (my friend worked at that camp).
Summer 2002 and 2003 I spent three months at an American summer camp. Summer camp one: new best friends, camp food, homesickness, suntans, mosquito bites, laughter, tears, rainy days, learning new skills, scraped knees, activities, language barriers, lots of swimming, new challenges, sharing of cultures, camp traditions, well water.
The second summer, I worked at a camp for inner city kids in Michigan (near the Great Lakes and Canada, just a 2-hour flight from New York for those non-Geographers) just outside Detroit. I worked there for 9 weeks doing things like archery, soccer, swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, softball, talent shows and high ropes to name a few activities. I worked with children aged 6 right up to 18. Working with them was very rewarding. The counselors were from all over the world - America, Columbia, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Holland, Russia etc. and we stayed in the cabins with the kids. On our days off we went to barbecues at the American counselors' houses, to theme parks, concerts, to the mall. It was amazing and I'm still in contact with loads of people.
If the thought of children sends cold shivers down your spine, there are loads of other casual summer jobs on the Work Experience USA option. CCUSA can guarantee you a job from their extensive job directory or you can find your own. You can choose from jobs in Californian National Parks, Ranches in Colorado, Theme Parks, Resorts, Bars, Restaurants, Shops and loads more. You'll earn real money too.
If you are, like so over America, you could consider a work programme the Work Experience Down Under programme in Australia or New Zealand, which is the same idea as the USA work programme but with more sheep and you can be there for up to 2 years, or Work Experience Brazil. Or if you're one of those wacky kids who always goes against the grain, why not be a Camp Counselor in Russia, which is the same idea as the USA camp programme but with more ear-flappy type caps.
These programmes start from only £299* all inclusive which covers your return flight (on Virgin - cool games!!), fully comp insurance, working visa, orientation before you leave and when you arrive, arrival accommodation and on the camp programme you'll even get travel to where ever you're working, 9 weeks board and lodging AND the highest pocket money. Basically the world is your oyster and frankly if you're not excited by now then get back behind that checkout and see the rest of your life mapped out in reward vouchers. If, however, you feel like having a summer worth remembering, then check out the recruitment fair. If you want an interview on the day then simply call the officer in advance, remembering to bring a competed application form with you which you can get from the website www.ccusa.com or by calling the office.
Camp Counselors USA
* Programme costs have changed since this article was written. Enquire with CCUSA for latest fees
Image courtesy of George Ploaie