Route J-1


The Positive Cultural Impact of Summer Camp

Posted on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 at 10:14 pm.

By Eli Rolli, Camp Director, YMCA Camp Benson

Read testimonials from international students who served as camp counselors at YMCA Camp Benson during the summer of 2017.

Amy Carolan inside Fort Benson

“While at camp we often heard the phrase ‘child X needs camp’, I never really understood this phrase but I went with it anyway. It was only at the end of the summer after 10 weeks of camp in the USA that I fully understood the phrase. At 21 years old, I realized that I needed camp. My J-1 experience not only allowed me to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young Americans, but it also made the most positive impact on my life. It helped me in ways I could never have imagined. It bettered me physically, mentally and spiritually. It is an experience that is so unique to America and something without the J-1 visa I would never have had the chance to experience. I made friends for life during my summer camp experience from all over the world and I got the chance to immerse myself in American culture. International students need summer camp and summer camps need international students. Without my J-1 experience I would be a completely different person. Camp changed me as a person and my outlook on life. It made me a more positive person. It changed me for the better. Camp has the power to change so many lives.” – Amy “Sunshine” Carolan (Ireland)

Fintan Sherlock on a hike at YMCA Camp Benson

“Going on a J-1 to YMCA Camp Benson was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had a great summer. This is something I wouldn’t be able to do in Ireland. Everything about the experience was great from learning about a whole new culture and meeting new friends. It was great working in camp as you help kids experience new things and give them memories that they won’t forget. I didn’t just work. I also travelled around the country – visiting the west and east coast and seeing everything America had to offer.” – Fintan “Fita” Sherlock (Ireland)

Gardar Arni kayaking during Staff Orientation

“My name is Garðar Árni and I live in Iceland. Thanks to the J-1 Visa program I got to spent the entire summer of 2015 working at YMCA Camp Benson in Illinois. Words cannot describe what an amazing experience it was for me. It was my first time in the United States and getting to spent three months there to learn about American culture and to work with the amazing people at the camp was absolutely priceless. I think the J-1 program is a fantastic way for people from outside the USA to come and learn experience the country and to introduce Americans to people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds. It helps everyone involved to broaden their horizons and grow as people.” -Garðar Árni “Iceman” (Ireland)

Categories: Program Spotlight

About G. Kevin Saba

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange


G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.

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