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Should you trust us?

As a parent of 2 delightful children, I understand that your child heading to another part of the world is a big deal. The idea of this page is to shine a light on everything about the program, so that you have a full understanding of this experience. There is great opportunity here, and a lot of responsibility that the young people take on, to themselves, for others, and as a part of this program.

There are things we can control as an organisation, and others we can not. There is also a wealth of information that we can share with you.

First, we have been involved with summer camps since 2002. We've worked at them, we've found staff for them, we've visited them, we've run staff training at different camps and we know their owners. The camps that we work with are ACA Accredited which means that they meet a number of high standards, giving our participants, us and you an assurance of the starting point for their facilities. In addition, we only work with the best camps that we know. They might have the best facilities, or they might run the best programs, supporting their campers in whichever way is best for them.

We run a program that is designed to challenge and support our participants to do the best they can at camp. We are not here to scale up to thousands of participants, we are not a conveyor belt. Our intention is to get to know and understand each participant, find an appropriate placement for them, get them ready and be there through the summer.

After having worked with over 500 camps for 10 years, we left one of the bigger agencies and started out, keen to do much more with fewer participants. This is why we do what we do. Summer camp gave us the chance to see the world, to grow up, gain valuable skills and perspective, we want others to do this and more.

We can ensure placement at a great camp, with a solid reputation that adheres to the ACA, State and Federal standards. A place that we would send our kids to. We will provide the training needed, 24/7 support over the summer and each summer we visit the majority of the camps that we work with.

Some of the challenges that might be faced come from the visa application system, interviewing might be needed with a few camps, getting to camp might be a long, or really long journey, homesickness, culture shock and being a counselor at camp is loooong hours, for terrible pay. The pay is worth pointing out, it is more of a pocket money for some travel, rather than something to build up. Camp is not worth it for the wage, it is worth it for many many more reasons.

The upfront cost for a summer at camp (our fees and 3rd party fees) is kept lower as each camp pays a fee too. This results in the program being more accessible. It also means the summer wage is less. If a participant works half the summer, camp pays half or their fee, and we ask the participant to pay the balance. If the participant leaves camp due to injury or an immediate family member is ill, we waive that fee. All of this is outlined in detail in our program agreement.

Why should they participate?

As well as the short term joy of the summer, the skills developed and the networking done will positively impact each participants career and well being. The challenges faced at camp are varied (from how do I get 50 kids to pay attention to me to how do I make the most of the staff team around me) and at the same time in a safe environment. The camp owners have done this for may years and know how to get the most from their staff team. In short, they will be better for it.

What would they be expected to do at camp and when is it?

Each camp has its own schedule, participants need to be able to start at some point from mid-May and the 12th of June and then work a minimum of 10 weeks.
Each role will have specific requirements that match the participants skills and experience, but as an overview as well as leading various activities through the day they will be a part of a small team who are responsible for a specific group of kids. Camps run for between 1 and 8 weeks, so there may be more or fewer arrival days to facilitate, ensure all of the childrens physical and wider needs are met, and help keep camp safe and rolling in whatever way is needed.
Camps can be in more isolated parts of the country so the team really will need to pull together, perhaps making campers beds at time, helping in the dining hall during meals and so on.

What are the emergency procedures?

This is completely covered by the camp. Camps follow local, state and federal guidance as well as adhering to standards published by the American Camp Association. Should anything happen to our participants at any point in the summer camps are obligated to pass this information to us and the visa sponsor for appropriate follow up. As a part of the program we ensure the camps we work with have Workers Comp, an insurance that covers them whilst they work, and when they are not working we organise medical insurance. This policy may be upgraded and full details are shared pre-departure.

When should people apply?

From September camps start to build their team for the following summer, because of this and to ensure we can help find the best role, the earlier the better. Pre-Christmas is ideal, January is the busiest month and by the end of March we are wrapping up.

What could go wrong?

By choosing the right camps that adhere to the highest standards, combined with our experience in the industry we can manage many of the risks, but not all.

The camps we work with and the US Embassy in either London or Belfast are autonomous, they make their own decisions. Over 99% of British applicants get their visa first time, but we are not in control of the process or result.

In addition, our participants are heading to the other side of the world. Their camps and our hotline are there to support, but just like any trip there are the usual inherent risks. The UK Foreign Office states that 'Around 3.8 million British nationals visit the USA every year. Most visits are trouble free.'

Should anything go wrong, we are here to support our participants. A good tip is to ensure that if you are a parent or guardian of a participant check that you are their emergency contact and that the participant has expressly given us permission to speak to you about their circumstances, before they head to camp. This can be done via email.

Where are these camps?

The camps we work with are in the upper midwest, in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are in the Northwoods, based on beautiful lakes and surrounded by forest.

How do they get to camp?

Each participant will need to book their own round trip to the US, we will inform them which airport to fly in to, and how to get from the airport to camp. If there is anyone else travelling at the same time we can look to connect them. An easy trip would be being picked up at the baggage claim, sometimes a participant might need to jump a bus or train to camp. We'll walk everyone through the instructions step by step.

What do you offer different to the agencies?

We specialise in finding experienced outdoor adventure people to work in the upper mid west. This location has the natural environment and unique camps that make the perfect match. We work with much smaller numbers of participants than any other agency to ensure each participant has the right placement and is supported by the business owners throughout their experience.

An additional advantage of remaining small is that we have minimal overheads. With our costs being lower we charge camps less for our services, meaning that our participants are paid more. $2000+. The actual salary is $2,250 but as there will be some tax to pay then we state a lower figure.

I'm keen to discuss the program with you, what is the best way?

Great - drop us a note on the contact us page and we'll figure the best time to chat.

Do they get paid?

For the summer they will get paid pocket money. As a money making exercise camp is noo good, but for a few hundred dollars to spend on a mini road trip at the end of the summer is does fine. Over all the program pretty much pays for itself, with participants getting paid home a minimum of $2000.

Can they travel after their camp experience?

Yes absolutely. We really encourage this. By the end of the summer each participant will have American friends to stay with and international friends to travel with. Our 24/7 helpline is available throughout this period. Accomodation and food is not covered as they travel. As with travel anywhere there are opportunities and risks, being streetwise is important and we encourage group travel.

Who owns these camps?

Most of the camps that we work with are independently owned and operated, usually by one family. Some times the camp might be owned by a charity or non profit. As FrieSide Camps we do not own or operate any camps, they are separate organistions to us.

Why choose your organisation?

We offer a service that looks at the needs of each participants and looks to set them up to succeed. This is not scalable, so we keep our overheads down by doing things like working from our converted garage and keeping what we do simple. If you are looking for an organisation with plenty of experience, exceptional training and prep pre departure who will get to know and understand each person individually, choose us. The key competition work with thousands of young people, we'll work with between 50-100 each year.

Is it safe?

Summer camps are set up to look after children, many of these policies and ways of working of course keep staff safe too. The camps are governed by local, state and federal laws that apply to running camps. The American Camp Association have a minimum set of standards that the camps adhere to and of course each camp has it's best practices that they adhere to.

We have visited and continue to visit the camps that we work with, seeing these standards being put in to practice.

We have support on the ground, at the camps and are reachable 24/7 in case any of our participants need us.

What is included?

Medical insurance for up to 90 days, placement support, visa paperwork and official documentation, 24/7 support whilst in the US and pre departure training is all included. At camp, participants will also get accommodation and food for the duration of their contract.

What are all of the costs involved?

Our program fee is £399 and can be paid in one go or in installments. Flights, the embassy appointment, a doctors signature on the medical history form (this isn't always charged for by doctors) and a police check also need to be paid for by the participant. A full breakdown of everything can be found on the costs page. As flights vary we can estimate the total cost, which is around £1199. The summer pay is $2000 +.

We hope this covers any thoughts you might have, feel free to drop us a note if you would like anything else clarifying.

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Thinking of camp for summer 2023?

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