Help Us Welcome the World
The South Mountain YMCA Camps employ over 20 international staff and welcome dozens of international campers to the mountain each summer. These young people help our local campers gain a new perspective on the world by sharing songs, stories, food, and games from other countries. Both international staff and campers have the opportunity to travel, live in a new culture, and gain valuable experience working together in an outdoor setting.
To make these visitors feel more welcome, we recruit “host families”. The expectations when serving as a host family for International Staff are very different for those when hosting an International Camper. Please read below to determine which opportunity might be right for you.
Hosting International Campers
Hosting an International Camp can be an incredibly rewarding experience you and your family, as well as for your international guest. Obviously, when hosting a camper from another country, there are a number of restrictions and applications that must be satisfied before a child can be placed in your home.
For this experience, we do ask that the host be a family with teens ages 12-17 in the home. This will allow for the young person visiting with you to have a peer to connect with during their stay. The stay is one week in length and follows their 2-week camp experience.
This homestay week gives international campers a chance to experience “life in America” in a more realistic and personal way than just being a tourist. They are your guest, but they are also something akin to an extra member of your family for the week. You should not feel compelled to organize anything extravagant. We want them to have a nice, enjoyable week and do fun and memorable things with your family—things your family enjoys.
The main points to consider:
- The homestay is the second part of their three part program. The campers will have completed a 2-week camp experience and may be tired or simply need a day to do laundry.
- They may want to do some shopping at a mall or other stores as they will have money to spend on souvenirs and clothes etc.
- Ask your camper of their interests. They may have some things in mind that they really want to see or do while they are here (baseball, an Amish village, a museum, a local school etc.).
- After the homestay week they will have a guided tour to Washington DC, New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Hosting International Staff
To ensure that our international staff feel welcomed, we have a Host Family Program that pairs a staff member with a South Mountain YMCA Camps’ individual or family. Host family responsibilities are very simple. We ask that you arrange to take your staff member to a local event, attraction or family engagement on one of his or her days off from Camp. Examples of activities include:
- Day trip to Reading, Harrisburg, Lancaster or Philadelphia
- Shopping in King of Prussia or the Outlets
- Sporting events
- Hiking or biking
- Birthday parties
We also ask that host families provide a welcome package for their international staff member to be presented upon their arrival. You will be invited to Camp during staff training to meet the young adult you are hosting.