The Positive Cultural Impact of Summer Camp

YMCA Camp Benson hires a number of international staff members to come work at camp every summer. Our international staff add so much to our overnight summer camp program and help our campers gain a new perspective on the world. These international staff members come from all over the world to be a part of YMCA Camp Benson in Illinois. Check out what Sunshine, Fita and Iceman had to say about their experiences working at an overnight summer camp as part of the J-1 Visa Program.


“While at camp we often heard the phrase ‘child X needs summer 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 overnight summer 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. Summer camp changed me as a person and my outlook on life. It made me a more positive person. It changed me for the better. Summer camp has the power to change so many lives.” – Amy “Sunshine” Carolan (Ireland)


“Going on a J-1 Visa 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 at an overnight summer camp as you help kids experience new things and give them memories that they won’t forget. I didn’t just work. I also traveled around the country – visiting the west and east coast and seeing everything America had to offer.” – Fintan “Fita” Sherlock (Ireland)


“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)


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YMCA Camp Benson

16355 Scenic Palisades Rd.

Mount Carroll, Illinois

Have Questions?

Please contact Gwyn “Mama G” Bemis”

Camp Director

E: gwyn@ymcacampbenson.org

Madison “Pawz” Vandersee

Assistant Camp Director

E: madison@ymcacampbenson.org

YMCA Camp Benson