Here at NYQUEST Camp Canada, we get this question asked all the time. Here are our thoughts on why summer camps in Canada love hiring international staff:
Summer Camp directors know that the most important aspect of running a successful camp is to have the strongest possible staffing team that they can hire. Almost all of the camp directors that we have spoken with over the many years say that the strongest staffing team is a combination of local staff who grew up going to camp as campers and a strong, diverse group of mature international staff who bring different ideas and new energy to the camp program. In addition to these skills and new perspective there are several other reasons why Canadian summer camps look to fill many important positions at camp with international candidates:
- Camps have a much easier time attracting older, senior international staff than they do finding older local staff. Many of the summer camps in Canada have challenges finding staff who are 19 and over and these older staff are becoming more and more vital to running a successful camp in modern times. The Canadian campers who then become staff at camp usually spend a 2-3 summers on staff. They then feel the pressure to work in a sector that is more in-line with their long-term career ambitions once they turn about 19. The senior staff at camp (19+) are extremely valuable, especially the staff who have lived away from home and have attended post-secondary school. Directors give a strong preference to those individuals who have already started their University experience. They notice a major difference with these staff members level of maturity and their ability to maintain an appropriate level of professionalism when still working and living closely with the campers.
- International staff can often work during the spring and extended summer when other local staff are enrolled in school.
- International staff treat the work experience as a job. Many of the local staff who grew up attending camp often feel entitled and treat camp as a place to take a vacation. Moreover, it is more expensive for an international staff to travel to camp versus a local staff and the international staff have more at stake if the work experience doesn’t meet their needs. As such, the international staff spend more time researching this work abroad job to make sure it is right for them. This in-turn leads to a better experience for the staff and for the camp director. They also do their best to follow all the camp rules so that they are not fired and aren’t able to collect their full staff salary to help off-set their international travel expenses.
- International staff bring new skills to camp that are hard to find when hiring Canadian camp staff. Some of these skills include horseback riding, circus, gymnastics, riflery, kayaking, and woodworking.
- Most international staff are working towards careers focused on teaching and childcare. They have a strong passion to be the best leaders and teachers that they can be while at camp.
- Lastly, and most importantly, the children at camp and the local Canadian staff really enjoy getting to know someone from a different part of the world. The new words, accents, stories and ways of doing things that the international staff bring to a cabin group is an exceptional education piece for the campers. It helps broaden their horizons and helps them connect with cultures from around the world. The local Canadian staff love making new friends from around the world and many of them travel to visit them during the camp off-season.
- Contrary to popular belief, many international staff return to camp for additional summers. Discount airlines have made it cheaper to fly internationally and since most international camp staff are flexible with their flight itineraries they can find good deals to return to Canada. Many international staff also choose to stay in Canada for the year and work at ski resorts and in other industries during the camp off-season. They then return to camp for another amazing summer without having to pay for an international flight.