UK vs US summer camps: the differences

Think a summer camp is the experience for you or your child? How can you decide with the US or UK is best suited? Both have a long history in organising residential summer programmes for young people, but they are some big differences to consider.


  1. Length of the camp

Most camps in the States run for at least a month or even the whole summer. This gives lots of opportunities for campers to get to know each other really well and develop their skills overtime.


UK camps on the other hand tend to be shorter. This makes them the perfect option for students who aren’t yet ready to be away from home for so long or do not have enough vacation time.


  1. Prices

With many more weeks included in US camps, they are more expensive than UK equivalents. 3 week programmes start at around $5,000 while full summers cost at least $10,000.


Shorter UK programmes pack in much of the fun but are more affordable. Rates are typically around £3,000 (around $3,870).


Find out more about Gledus’ British summer camp programmes here.


  1. Types of activities

American camps tend to focus on very adventurous activities such as kayaking, overnight camping and water-skiing. The aim is to have as much fun outdoors as possible.


British camps tend to be a little tamer and often have more of an academic focus. They are likely to include English lessons and professional workshops, They are still fun, but also prepare students for their later education and career.


  1. Students who attend

Since the US is so big with so many different states, travelling to camp at the other end of the country is a huge adventure in itself! Most attendees are therefore American and familiar with the culture and language.


UK camps tend to draw more students from overseas. Though British teenagers may like to join a local summer camp for the activities on offer, the majority of those attending will come from abroad. This means that if you join a British summer camp, you’ll meet a diverse range of people from all over the world.



  1. Camp counsellors

It’s a bit of a tradition for staff at US summer camps to come from all over the world. As much an opportunity for teachers to travel as students, many qualified adults journey to the States for a summer of fun, adventure and camaraderie. This means students can learn skills from people of interestingly varied backgrounds.


UK camps by contrast, are often staffed by British locals. While less diverse, these teams are no less up for a good time! Additionally, if you come to camp to learn English, you’ll be able to chat to native speaking adults all day every day.


Find out what makes English lessons at Gledus special here. 


  1. Summer camp setting

It’s not uncommon for US camps to be hosted on purpose-built premises that are used every year for their summer programme and little else. This means excellent facilities and a real community atmosphere since the walls are adorned with photos and messages from campers who attended in previous years.


In the UK however, camps are normally held in schools or universities that have space for international students during their summer vacation. Facilities are still exceptional though since they are used by top educational institutions throughout the academic year. Additionally, staying in a real English boarding school or uni gives international students an exciting taste of what it might be like to study in the UK.



No matter whether you choose to go on summer camp in the UK or US, you can be sure of an unforgettable experience. What all good programmes have in common is the opportunity for students to make friends, try new things and grow dramatically in independence.


Have you visited a UK or US summer camp? Perhaps you’ve taken part in both and can tell us which you prefer! If you have any questions about what to look for in a good programme, you can contact the Gledus team.


Did you find this article helpful? Read more about summer camps and travelling in the UK on our blog


Gledus organises residential summer camps and homestays for international students coming to the UK. They’re hosted in top British boarding schools and feature an exciting programme of activities and English lessons. Find out more.

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