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J1 Visa: How to Ace Your Appointment

Ready to Bag Your J1 Visa?

You’ve got your summer job, you’ve got your documents in, and now it’s time to complete the next stage of your journey to America. The J1 Visa appointment. It can be daunting and confusing, but we’re the  J1 Visa pros ready to help you out. From DS-160’s to SEVIS receipts, here’s the survival guide on how to ace your J1 Visa appointment!

What Actually is a J1 Visa?

You’ve probably heard the term J1 Visa and wondered what a J1 actually is. To keep it real simple, the J1 Visa is a cultural exchange Visa, supporting visitors who are taking part in cultural exchange programs like Summer Camp. Without this, you can’t go and work in America. Once you’ve got your visa, you’ll be ready to set off to the States for the best summer!

Follow the Guides

When you go to book your appointment, there will be different steps to be completed. Don’t worry, we’ve created step by step guides that’ll walk you through everything you need to know. These will be on your profile once you have received your DS-2019 form from us so keep an eye out for these and make sure you follow them!

What to Expect

When you first go into the embassy, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room until your number to be called. You will go up to the first window where the staff will check your documents and check your DS-160 application. After this, you will then move onto the next stage of the visa process. The next window will be where you will be asked questions about you and your job in America. Be clear, honest, and friendly and you’ll be absolutely fine.

Be Prepared

Make your trip to the American embassy stress-free and get there early. If you aim to get there at least 15 minutes before your appointment, you will be first in line and ready to ace your appointment and get your J1 Visa. Whether you’re going to Dublin, London or Belfast, have your travel plans sorted. If that’s a flight, train or bus, make sure you have it booked in advance to save yourself money and stress. If you’re going to Belfast for your appointment, make sure you book with an airline that allows you to travel back with another piece of ID as the embassy will take your passport. You don’t want to get stuck in Belfast with no way of getting back home.

Dress Casual

The J1 Visa appointment can sound very serious and formal, but they aren’t! You don’t need to stress smart for the appointment. Just make sure you aren’t wearing trackies and look presentable for your interview with the embassy.

You’ve Got This!

It’s totally normal to feel nervous about your appointment. With all the paperwork and booking of appointments, it can be seriously overwhelming, but don’t worry. You’re going to ace the appointment and rock out with your approved visa. Get ready for the summer of a lifetime.

Jess Lucas
Jess Lucas
Jess is the Marketing Executive at USA Summer Camp. She has just completed her first summer at Camp IHC and cannot wait to show everyone how great Summer Camp really is.
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The Ins and Outs of How to Travel Around America

 

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a Camp Counselor involves?

 

Meet Camp Counselor Summer!

Hey! I’m Summer and I was a Camp Counselor in my two summers at camp. I spent a year working at French Woods Festival of Performing Arts in Upstate New York. French Woods is a specialist camp with all the traditional camp activities. Not only are there traditional activities but there are also four theatres, a circus and a magic department! Specifically, French Woods is a sleep-away camp, which means that campers spend the nights sleeping in cabins. There can be up to about fourteen children in each cabin.

Above all, summer camp is one of those places where you fully immerse yourself in a camp bubble. Every day is different and you’re always inspiring and influencing your campers. In addition to all of this, you get paid! You are also adding top skills to your CV. Ready to find out more? Keep reading below to find out what a typical day in the life of a Camp Counselor is like!

 

Mornings at Camp!

The first task of the day as a Camp Counselor is to get the kids up and excited for the day ahead! In order to do this, I and my co-counselors find that the best way to do this is to get some top tunes on. Getting them up and dancing is a great way to start the day. This motivates the kids for the day ahead.

The dancing doesn’t stop there either! Mealtimes at camp (breakfast included) are filled with singing, dancing and banging the tables. All of your typical table manners go out the window! If it’s someone’s birthday then the dining hall becomes a buzz of hundreds of campers and counselors singing, clapping and celebrating. It’s SO fun and one of the best parts of a day in the life of a camp counselor!

 

Activities

After breakfast and a quick cabin clean-up, it’s time to head to activities. At French Woods, the kids choose their own schedule made up of Majors and Minors. Major activities are things the kids would do every day and maybe work towards a project. These can be things like taking part in a musical, being part of a sports team or circus show. Minor activities are things that they chose every day such as activities like swimming, rock climbing or mountain biking.

This is where specialists counselors would head off to teach their activities. Now although you’re ‘teaching’ a skill, this doesn’t mean you’re cooped up in a classroom, you organise your activities any way you see fit! A typical day for myself is usually spent in the Theatre teaching Sound and Lighting skills. Getting kids to create crazy sound effects to use in performances often means heading around camp and looking at how we can record sound effects.

 

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Every day you get a period off, which can be used to get stuck into all the activities. For instance, on a day I was feeling lazy, I could chill in the cabin or by the waterfront. The different activities on offer meant that you could learn a new skill or try something different every day! I tried everything camp had to offer, even daring to go on the flying trapeze in the circus!

Evening Activities

After dinner and some chill time for kids and counselors, it’s time for evening activities! This is my favourite time of the day. Every evening is something different as well as a time to get stuck into activities.

We would spend our evenings watching shows and performances by the campers and taking part in games like Color Wars, Capture-the-flag and sing-a-longs. We also had ice cream socials, campfires and themed discos.

 

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Nights at Camp

After evening activities, everyone is worn out from a busy day! At my camp, counselors work on a rota in the evenings. One counselor and a CIT (Counselor in Training) take care of the kids and settle them for the evening. The other two counselors are able to take the evening off. To sum it all up, one thing I loved about camp on my evenings off was sitting by the waterfront on warm summer evenings and watching the stars, I’d never seen so many it was absolutely spectacular.

Days at camp are active, exciting and busy. Every day is different but every day is fun! You’ll never find a summer job which pays you to have a great time more than being a camp counselor.

 

Campcounselorsoncabin

 

Become a Camp Counselor!

Do it, you won’t regret it! Click here to start your Camp Counselor application and experience being a Camp Counselor for yourself. 

Are You Ready to Return to Camp?

You may have just finished your first summer at camp. Maybe you’re ready to return for your third summer or more! As soon as you’ve received your offer, you’re ready to return to camp. Summer may be quite a while away yet but as a returner, it is essential to get started with your application ASAP. Find out more about the steps to return to camp and getting started with your application.

2nd Year Returner

If you’re returning for a second summer at camp, that makes you a 2nd-year returner. If you are returning to the same camp you will need to get an offer of return from your camp. Camps will start their hiring process around September/October time. Make sure to speak with your camp as early as possible to secure your place for the upcoming season. In addition to reaching out to camp yourself, you will also negotiate your salary. As well as your salary, it is important to know your role at camp.

When you are ready to start your application to return to camp, log into your profile. From here, you will be able to select the option to create an application for the future season ahead. The Department of State often has limits on the number of returners that can be sent back to camp, because of this, it is important to start your applications as soon as possible. To fully secure your place you will need to pay your £99 deposit. You can do this either on the phone or on your profile. Find out more about returner fees here.

3rd Year Returner

For those returning for their 3rd summer or more, it is ESSENTIAL to get started with your application as soon as you have received your offer. The Department of State limits the number of visas for 3rd year+ returners which means late applications will not be eligible for a visa. The Department of State insists that only 10% of total visa allocations are available for 3rd year+ returners. This is offered on a first-come-first-served basis.

To start your returner application, log into your profile. From here you will be able to create an application for next season. You will then need to pay your £99 deposit. This secures your place on the program to return to camp for the upcoming season. Find out more about returner fees here.

Returning to a New Camp

You may have decided that you’d like to head back to camp but this time, you’d like to head to a new camp. If this is the case, you are classed as a first-timer. Everything is the same as when you first decided to head to camp, including the option of choosing your flight options. However, you will need to get a reference from your old camp to return to a new camp. You can get started with your brand new application here.

 

We can’t wait to help you get back out to camp and continue your summer journey. Remember to keep up to date with us throughout the year as well as the summer for exclusive news and competitions!

 

The Best Way to Travel Around America?

You get 30 days of travel after America and the freedom to go where ever you, but you have one problem. How are you going to get around? With 52 States and a lot of miles in between, getting from a to b can present a few challenges. Worry not as there are plenty of travel options that can help get take you from camp to wherever you want to be! Moreover, there are also great travel packages from our amazing partners over at Contiki and TrekAmerica. They can sort out your travelling needs as well as your accommodation. Score!

 

Megabus

You might already be familiar with Megabus, particularly if you are a seasoned traveller. With low-cost bus tickets to over 100 cities, it’s worth checking to see if Megabus can get you where you need. Either way, a quick look at the tickets could enlighten you to explore somewhere new for a low-cost price! Some tickets can start as low as $1! In all, the best way to travel around America is sometimes the cheapest and with Megabus, you get just that.

travel easier with megabus

Metro

It’s worth checking whether the city you are in has a metro system. Similar to the tube, the metro can get you around the city very quickly which is often the best way to get around America! New York City is well known for its Subway and there are a handful of other cities that also have similar transportation systems. There are also handy apps as well as Google Maps that can guide you on which line to get for when you are navigating yourself around.

subway new york travelling

 

Greyhound

With low fares and a selection of direct routes, Greyhound can help you with your travel around America. There are hundreds of direct routes meaning you get exactly where you need to go. A bus ride across America will take a fair few hours but with free Wi-Fi and individual power outlets on every bus, a few Netflix episodes will help pass the time! Be inspired to explore more places and save money while you do it!

catch the greyhound bus to travel after camp

 

Get Lifts off America Friends

At Summer Camp, you’re bound to make friends for life. Some of these friends will even have cars! It’s worth checking to see if they are travelling after camp and whether you can hitch a ride with them. A road trip with friends is one of the best ways to explore America. If you need more info on planning a summer camp road trip, we have a handy blog post to help you out.

road trip with friends after camp

 

TrekAmerica

We are lucky to be partnered with great travel brands that can help you explore more. In addition, they can help with how to travel America while making more of your budget. TrekAmerica offers more than 50 unique trips. With a pre-planned trip, you’ll be with an experienced tour guide who can show you the best of what America has to offer. Also, with TrekAmerica your travel and accommodation are included, rolling your trip into one convenient package! Find out more about travelling with TrekAmerica here.

trek america travels

 

Contiki

Another great brand we have partnered with is Contiki. Each trip is packed full of must-do experiences as well as your transport being covered door to door. An expert Trip Manager guides your trip from start to finish, allowing you to explore the best America has to offer.  With the option to include add-ons with your trip, it’s your travel your way. Make the most of America’s National parks or perhaps see the Golden Gate Bridge. With Contiki, there’s so much to explore. Find out more here.

travel with contiki across america

 

Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua Goodwin
Angeliqua is the Creative Designer at USA Summer Camp as well as a travel addict!