The study revealed the program gives post-secondary students, youth workers, and teachers that participate in the program a positive opinion of the US in general – 69.4% said they developed a much more positive or somewhat positive opinion about the country in general.
“The Camp Counselor program creates a network of cross-cultural connections that transcend borders”
Around seven in 10 described a much more positive or somewhat positive opinion about American culture, while 76.1% expressed similar positivity regarding the American people they encountered.
In addition to working between two and three months at camp, participants contribute more than $59.1 million to the US economy during their 30-day grace period to travel the country, the research found.
Conducted by social science and policy research firm EurekaFacts, the review surveyed more than 2,500 program alumni and interviews and a survey with more than 350 host camps.
“Not only does their experience infuse American camps with diverse cultures from across the world, [the] recent study shows it also provides these counselors the opportunity to forge relationships in the US that they carry with them for years to come,” Ilir Zherka executive director of the Alliance for International Exchange said in a statement.
“These relationships and improved impressions of America help strengthen our national security.”
Additionally, the program – a category within the State Department’s Exchange Visitor Program – benefits US host camps by giving campers and counselors insight into other cultures.
Of the 350 host camps surveyed, 99.8% said that their experiences in the program met the needs and goals of their organisation overall, while 98.9% strongly agree or agree that the program is achieving its main purpose as a cultural exchange program.
Nine in 10 (90.7%) noted that their organisation would be negatively impacted if the Camp Counselor program were to cease to exist.
“The Department of State’s Camp Counselor program creates a network of cross-cultural connections that transcend borders,” Zherka continued.
“In addition to being a valuable public diplomacy tool, the program also helps American businesses and strengthens our economy, which is why it enjoys wide support from campers and their families to federal policymakers,” he added.