Route J-1


The Whole Shebang for Camp Counselors in Pennsylvania

Posted on Friday, November 27th, 2015 at 5:27 pm.

camp counselors pose together with a horse

Hannah Bolger, Graeme Brown, Georgia Tibke, and Leia Jones stand with Camp Hilltop’s favorite horse.

As the cold settles in here in Washington, D.C. and the Northeastern United States, I want to revisit summer. My colleague Travis Parsley made a visit to Wayne County, Pennsylvania, during summer camp season. I will let Travis take it from here. Enjoy.

“It’s the whole shebang!” That’s precisely how Lathaniel Dyer, a J-1 camp counselor from the United Kingdom, described his feelings about Camp Summit. I thought that was a strange response, until I spent some time at the simultaneously tranquil and high octane camps in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. J-1 camp counselors have to dial up the enthusiasm to keep up with all the activities offered. They also dial up their professionalism every day as they take on important leadership roles in this camp. J-1 counselors here teach specialized skills, like dancing and woodworking, they lead groups on outings, they coordinate events like skits and weekly theme-based activities, and they serve as role models and mentors to their campers. Many of the international counselors say these activities fill something inside of them they didn’t know was empty.

two women and a man standing in front of a lake

Charlotte Miller, Matty Layman, and Monique Reid hang out by Price Pond at Indian Head Camp.

And they certainly make an oversized contribution to the camp. Camp Director Mark Buynak said that parents of campers truly appreciate the multicultural experience that they feel only the international camp counselors provide. Of course, international counselors would not have the full experience without their American counterparts, who show them the bedrock of character and leadership that can only be developed at camps like this one.

“Bedrock” is an important word when considering the qualities and contributions of camp. I have now seen at camps across the country that they create bedrock for the communities they serve. Camps in Wayne County have existed for decades, and they have helped to create local leaders, local pride, and local jobs. Camps have also forged the development of rock solid bonds between exchange visitors and campers, as well as American co-counselors, that extend beyond the program. Campers have maintained communication with their camp counselors, and counselors have returned to work with their American peers. Those relationships are solid and durable.

When thinking about all of this, I realize that it really is “the whole shebang.”

Visit Indian Head and Summit Camp to learn more about these camps that host J-1 camp counselors. 

Categories: J-1 Visa, Participants, 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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