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5 posts categorized "Camp Exchange USA"

Our Commitment to Program Diversity

CIEE is committed to providing camps with diverse participants who have the skills and experience necessary to contribute positively to your community. This summer, we sponsored participants from 52 different countries. This includes first ever placements from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, The Philippines, Costa Rica, and Lesotho. Maintaining a diverse pool of candidates is an integral part of our program and we pledge to continue seeking new markets to ensure access to educational and cultural exchange for all.

Camp Exchange USA Global Outreach Map as of April 2017.
Camp Exchange USA Global Outreach Map as of April 2017.

 Agent Forum Recap

This September, CIEE hosted our annual Agent Forum for Work Exchange Programs at our global headquarters in Portland, Maine. Representatives from over 50 partner agencies from across the globe joined CIEE staff for three days of meetings, presentations, and fun to kick off the 2018 work exchange season. The Camp Exchange team loved sharing our insights about the magic that is summer camp. We also loved sharing expertise about the placement and application process, as well as hosting the camp Q&A towards the end of the forum. We look forward to working with everyone who attended! In the meantime, check out some photos below!

Camp Placement Coordinator Tyler Brookings (far left) lunches with Temitope Bada and Elizabeth Bada from Besor Associates (based in Nigeria).
Camp Placement Coordinator Tyler Brookings (far left) lunches with Temitope Bada and Elizabeth Bada from Besor Associates (based in Nigeria).

 

 Manager of Camp Relations Ryan Pelletier (left) and Adam Janaway (right) from BUNAC (based in the UK) take a ferry ride to Peak’s Island, off the coast of Maine.
Manager of Camp Relations Ryan Pelletier (left) and Adam Janaway (right) from BUNAC (based in the UK) take a ferry ride to Peak’s Island, off the coast of Maine.


Placement Coordinator Julia Elliott (3rd from right) runs a breakaway session explaining camp types. She is joined by representatives from New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica, Jordan, the UK, and Jamaica.

Placement Coordinator Julia Elliott (3rd from right) runs a breakaway session explaining camp types. She is joined by representatives from New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica, Jordan, the UK, and Jamaica.

Share Your Summer Photos and Stories With Us!

At CIEE, we have seen firsthand the powerful and transformational experiences your camp provides to our participants. Our ability to share photos and stories about these experiences with a larger audience, including the U.S. Department of State, is instrumental in both documenting the impact of our program and advocating for its continuance.

What is your favorite activity at camp? Which CIEE counselor will you miss the most? Where is the best view at camp? Share your Camp Exchange USA experiences by tagging us in your social posts! Find us online at Instagram (@ciee_camp) or Facebook (@campexchangeusa). We’ll even share our favorite posts on our social pages!

Camps Join CIEE’s Annual Employer Forum in D.C.

Four summer camps joined many of CIEE’s Summer Work & Travel employers at our 16th annual Employer Forum in early October. Michelle Gottlieb, Camping Department Manager at the Fresh Air Fund (NY), Jeff Gleason, CEO/Director of the YMCA of Maine (ME), Eugene Bell, Senior Director at Summit Camp (PA), and Scott Brody, Owner/Director of Camps Kenwood +Evergreen attended a congressional learning session hosted by Senator Angus King (ME). Scott is also the chair of Government Affair Committees for the American Camp Association and was the panelist that represented camps during the session. Michelle, Jeff, Eugene, and Scott also visited the offices of their state representatives to advocate for the J-1 program.

We are staying strong in our push for advocacy efforts to #savej1 and to ensure cultural exchange for all! Keep an eye on your inbox for future updates and ways to get involved!

CIEE’s CEO, Jim Pellow (far left)Executive VP, International Exchange Program, Meghann Curtis (2nd from left) and Vice President, Work Exchange Programs, Phil Simon (far right)  join Jeff Gleason, CEO/Director YMCA Camp of Maine (2nd from right) and Senator Angus King(center right) in dialogue prior to the congressional learning session on J-1 programs in the Russell Senate building.
CIEE’s CEO, Jim Pellow (far left)Executive VP, International Exchange Program, Meghann Curtis (2nd from left) and Vice President, Work Exchange Programs, Phil Simon (far right)  join Jeff Gleason, CEO/Director YMCA Camp of Maine (2nd from right) and Senator Angus King(center right) in dialogue prior to the congressional learning session on J-1 programs in the Russell Senate building.

The Summer at Camp that Stole Marie's Heart

Marie Salova spent this past summer as a counselor in the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program. When she returned to her home in Ireland she wrote us a beautiful thank you note sharing her experience. This is Marie's story.

I am writing to thank you for making this summer one of the best ones of my life. I made more memories and friends than I can even count. I just wanted to share a little bit of my experience with you all.

This summer I was working at Camp Pinecliffe in their Arts and Craft Department. I was hired at the first CIEE hiring fair in Dublin in the very first session, admittedly knowing very little about what was to come. I went through all the orientation procedures and decided on some dates for my flights and finally got my health check done. As the date of departure was arriving, a fellow counselor set up a Facebook group chat for us where we shared all our concerns and goals for the summer to come. We met at the airport by the gates. We joked about the summer ahead. Once in Boston we met Annie, a CIEE representative. She was telling us not to be nervous or scared but by this point none of us were any more, we were all eager to get to camp and start the summer of a lifetime. We explored Boston that night with some serious jet lag. 

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Once at Pinecliffe, we worked with an amazing group of both staff and campers. The eight weeks to follow were filled with laughter and enjoyment. The work at camp never felt like a job. This year was Camp Pinecliffe’s 100th anniversary. The summer was filled with all sorts of special events, trips and shows. So much happened during the summer that I could not tell you about it if I had another 100 years.

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Each day was special, each week had its own mood. We sang song by the camp fire, we took a trip to Canada, we ate lobster for Pinecliffe’s birthday, we held sports events and socials, we worked with people from all over the world, we went to the funfair and we survived visiting day and alumni weekend. We had the most amazing view every morning and the best days off. We ate good food and enjoyed milk and cookies every night. The traditions at this camp will stay with me forever.

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As camp drew to a close, they hosted a banquet. Hundred Acre Wood was the theme for the night, the girls spoke about their summers at camp, their memories and friends, their traditions and bunks. Spending the summer working with the eldest age group made this last night especially difficult as they knew their summers at Camp Pinecliffe had come to an end. In the dark, we were filling jars with things that capture the essence of Pinecliffe.  Later the girls sat in a circle and confessed their camp secrets over the last six to eight summers. They will forever be Pinecliffe girls. 

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This photo was taken of the Irish staff prior to the final Banquet. We were dressed, like the girls, in all white. Wearing our special anniversary t-shirts. The amount of emotion that followed this photo is unbelievable and I would have never thought I would have something so special that makes saying goodbye so hard. Pinecliffe will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

All of this came before an unforgettable experience traveling along the east coast. For this experience I will forever be grateful and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Thank you for all your hard work and commitment throughout the years, 

I will never forget all you have done.

 

Regards,

Marie Salova

Camp Counselor, Summer 2017, from Ireland

A Summer to Remember: Bulgarian Student Experiences an American Summer Camp

By Ruzanna Sahakyan, CIEE Camp Exchange USA participant

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My name is Ruzanna Sahakyan, I was born in Armenia but grew up in Bulgaria. I graduated from the National High School of Humanitarian Science and Arts and I am currently one state exam close to getting my bachelor’s degree in English and American studies. I live in the most beautiful city in Bulgaria - more precisely the sea capital, Varna - and right now I am doing my camp exchange program in the USA.

Visiting the USA has been one of my biggest dreams since I was 16 and now that I am in the USA it feels too surreal. Currently I live in Winthrop, ME where I am a counselor at the YMCA Camp of Maine. Camp comes to an end soon and my time in the USA is almost up. When I go back home my first priority will be to take my state exams and become an official bachelor’s graduate. Then I will start a job in order to save some money for yet another adventure. I will apply for a master’s degree in American studies in Bulgaria, however, I will spend the full academic year abroad as an Erasmus exchange student. Afterwards, when I am done with my job, master’s degree, and the exchange program, I will most likely enroll in some other type of exchange program. The thing I love the most about all those exchange programs is that a person gets to travel to different destinations without having to spend a lot of money.

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I’m so grateful I got the chance to do my exchange program in the USA as it was one of the most affordable ways to come here, and I ended up having a great summer. I decided to be part of the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program for 2017 because, as I mentioned above, it has always been a dream of mine to visit the U.S. Also, I love traveling, I love teaching yoga and other sports and crafts, and now I know that I like working with kids as well. My responsibility at camp is to take care of the kids 24 hours, be their role model, their encouragement, their inspiration, and their teacher.

I have spent 1 month and 29 days at the YMCA Camp of Maine here at the Pine Tree state and I will have to leave this amazing place soon with a very heavy heart. One of the many interesting things about camp is that we have counselors, campers, and other staff members from all around the globe: Spain, Canada, China, UK, Ireland, Wales, Turkey, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Vietnam. I am very happy that the camp finally has Bulgarian and Armenian representatives. Not only do we have an amazing staff from different parts of the world, which makes the kids more open minded and enriches their culture, but also we have a very wide range of activities for the kids. Some of the activities include: Aqua Friendship Bracelet Making, Arts and Crafts Around the World, Mad Scientist, Improv, Lacrosse, Zumba, Yoga, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Creature Catching, Challenge, etc. We make sure that our kids are never bored and that they will learn many new skills to show to their parents and friends.

School Bus Group Shot

I have heard many negative comments about the USA like that the kids are very spoiled, the nature has been wiped off from the face of the USA, the food is bad, and the people can be rude. Interestingly, I was glad to find out that all these things turned out to be so far from the truth. There are many factories and skyscrapers, indeed, but now I know from all the road trips that the nature here is incredibly rich and beautiful too. One can find spoiled kids almost everywhere and one thing is for sure - I didn’t meet any spoiled kids at camp! People in the U.S. are so gentle, kind, willing to help, and courteous. I was warned that the food here is mostly genetically modified, filled with sugars, carcinogenic ingredients and artificial coloring; these types of foods can be found in almost every place on the earth, not only in the U.S. Fortunately, here at camp, the people in charge make sure that the kids have access to healthy and nourishing foods and some treats for when they have a sweet tooth; the kitchen staff provides food for all the people who are vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose intolerant, allergic to certain nuts, and so on. In the end of the day, it was up to the kids whether they will reach for a fruit or go for the burgers, and we always encouraged them to drink water and have a few pieces of fruit.

I love everybody at camp because every single person is so kind and nice to the others. Not to mention how kind and sweet the directors and unit leaders, are which makes us feel all equal. Hands down, my most favorite people are Kim (aka the “Camp’s Mom”), Jeff Gleason’s wife, Lester who is the program director, and Natalie (aka “The Glitter Queen”) who is the arts and craft director. These people and everybody else made us, the counselors, feel at home away from home.

I have learned so many useful skills here at camp which I can easily put into use in my life; I learned skills which made me a better person. I have improved my communications skills, I have learned how to behave around children, how to be their role model and moral support, I have learned new skills and became more comfortable leading sport classes. I have experienced so many “first time” things like first time kayaking, making s'mores, eating Swedish Fish, being at a camp, seeing chipmunks, watching Netflix, etc. All these things combined made me more confident, which is something I have always lacked.

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The past two months have been filled with so much laughter, positive energy, learning, dancing, singing, road trips, Game of Thrones nights with the staff members, camp fires, etc. I write this with a heavy heart because there is only one day left  until the end of camp. Camp has been a place for me to spend my days with no stress, anxiety, negative energy, drama, worries, and all the other things from the reality. I will definitely miss the YMCA Camp of Maine and now it has a huge spot in my heart. My exchange program here at the YMCA Camp of Maine means a lot to me as it taught me how to be more responsible, honest, caring and respectful- the four core values we teach the kids here at Ycamp.

My advice to those who are interested in coming to the U.S. on CIEE Camp Exchange USA is to decide which part of the U.S. they want to live in - west, east, south, etc. - and then decide on a camp. Once you know that you want to work on the East Coast, for example, then it is going to be easier to decide on a camp. Secondly, if you do end up choosing a camp on the East Coast but you are completely sure that you want to travel on the West Coast post-camp, then I highly recommend buying plane tickets in advance as it is going to save you some money. Thirdly, if you are a big train enthusiast, then you should definitely buy in advance one of Amtrak’s train journeys. In general: make sure to bring your laptop, have some extra cash on you, plan your post-camp trip in advance, install the Hostel World app on your mobile device, as well as the MapMe app, prepare some amazing camp appropriate songs, stories, jokes, dances, and more ahead of time, and you will be ready for a summer filled with positive energy, laughter, swimming, sports, dances, and travels.

Jamal's Summer at Camp: Part 2

Last summer Jamal Richardson, a student from St. Mary’s University in the UK, traveled to Pennsylvania to work as a camp counselor. We asked him to reflect on his experience at camp, and will be featuring several posts. See Part 1 here.

Describe some of your daily activities at camp.

The activities at camp vary quite a bit, mostly outdoorsy, having waterfront  activities such as  a banana boat, kayaks, canoes, rowboats, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, baseball, judo and a wide range of sports! As a Counsellor, you really engage in these activities as you do it with the kids. The moment they see you do it, they want to join in too!

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The days usually have a very early start and a late finish, with all these activities being done, you’re so tired by the end of it but it is so fulfilling at the same time! As waterfront staff, or specialist staff, you are in charge of making these activities fun for the kids

What were some of your best memories from your time in the United States?

There was a boy who was so home sick – we worked hard to make him feel better, I taught him to swim, he went on banana boat rides, and his parents were so surprised how much he had changed in the 3 weeks! Then at the end they tell you they are excited to see you again next year, and that you have to come back and be with them again. Non-negotiable!

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Also don’t forget! Once camp is over, the traveling kicks in! You get to travel America which will be your best holiday ever, you go around places with the friends you’ve made in America and make some unforgettable memories. In my case, I visited New York City, Washington D.C, and then did a roundtrip all the way down to south Carolina, and  made  my  way  back  up  again  through Tennessee!

Jamal's Summer at Camp: Part I

Last summer Jamal Richardson, a student from St. Mary’s University in the UK, traveled to Pennsylvania to participate in the CIEE Camp Exchange USA program. We asked him to reflect on his experience at camp, and will be featuring several posts. This story originally appeared on the IST Plus website.

Tell us about the start of your summer in the U.S.

The Orientation week is great fun at camp! At times it can be very nerve-wracking as you’re in somewhere completely new and you meet a whole load of new faces in a very short space of time. But the orientation week helps you find your footing and get to know all these wonderful faces and make friends very quickly, friends that you become very close to. The training itself is also very useful for working in a camp, having done both waterfront training and counselor training, it does help you prepare for the summer ahead. It also helps that orientation is done by previous counsellors, so they are well aware of how you are feeling prior to the kids arriving!

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The night before the kids arrive there are so many mixed emotions! This is the part that you have signed up for, but at the same time it can get you nervous because you’re hoping the kids will be nice as you will be with them all summer, as well as you hoping that you can make the summer unforgettable! However, once you see the excited kids, some who are new, some who have been to camp before, you realize how special camp is for the kids and that you really want to make this summer better for them than the last one. They will look up to you as a role model, copy what you do, how you talk, they will try to be like you in every way!

What was your camp like?

The Camp was located in the middle of nowhere. The location was amazing for that reason. The nearest town was a small town, with a few shops, a breakfast place, a bar and a Walmart. But that made it all the better. You were away from cities and home comforts for 9 weeks, and on days off the camp organizes you to go to different places to see places. So through the summer you can find yourself chilling by a river, or jumping off high rocks into lakes, both which are great fun.

The housing was exactly what you would think it would be from the movies, it is bunkbeds inside of cabins! The cabins during orientation are also extremely social as you live in them with a group of people your age. Once the kids come in and you start living with kids it’s also great fun, and not a major worry about not getting your beauty sleep.

The scenery is the most amazing part of camp also! Sunsets away from the city, where you can actually see the sunset is the most beautiful thing ever! Being able to look up at night and see so many stars is also something that made the camp amazing, since we were so far away from towering buildings and cities, there was absolutely no light pollution. Nothings more relaxing than being down the waterfront after work has finished and stargazing with your friends while chatting!

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