February 07, 2024 Category: Our Programs Meet Fresh Air

Around the World: Meet Our International Camp Counselors 

Both campers and counselors at The Fresh Air Fund’s camps have opportunities to meet people from around the world! Last summer, The Fund employed camp staff from 21 different countries! With counselors from Mexico, Hungary, South Africa, England and more, our camp staff represents so many unique perspectives and cultures. 

For our international counselors, working at camp is an incredible learning opportunity. In addition to  gaining teaching experience, counselors learn a lot about themselves while having an adventure living abroad!  

Sofia Dergal Vergara from Mexico 

Sofia is the dance instructor at Camp ABC and grew up in Mexico City. Her family is from Mexico but is also part English and Arabic. Moving to New York for the summer was a big jump in her life, but it was completely worth it. 

“I wanted a new experience. I just finished high school, and I didn’t really know if I wanted to go to university right away. I wanted to connect with people in a way that I could teach them and learn from them,” shared Sofia. 

Sofia has always loved the arts and meeting new people. Working at camp was an opportunity to experience teaching children from a different culture and make connections with people from different backgrounds. Like a lot of the campers, this was the furthest Sofia was from home. After camp finished, she would return to Mexico but would live on her own. Sofia found she could connect with the children over being far from home.  

At first, I was a little bit sad about leaving home because I knew I wasn’t going back. But when I started working, I started to develop this sense of being an adult.


“I remember a specific camper; it was her first time away from her home,” said Sofia. “We talked about how it felt to be far from home, but how happy we were at camp making bracelets, meeting new people and learning to swim.” 

Between making friends with counselors from all over the world and sharing her love for dance with children, Sofia had the summer of a lifetime and is already looking forward to next summer! 

“I really recommend working as a counselor to people who are open to learning about themselves and others!” 

Quinton Mwale from South Africa 

Coming all the way from South Africa, Quinton joined The Fresh Air Fund for the summer as a general counselor at Camp Junior. This was his first time working in the United States, and he enjoyed it so much that he has already signed up for next summer! 

“First and foremost, I love kids. I love spending time around kids and have experience as a tutor and peer educator,” shared Quinton. “I wanted to share my skills and culture from South Africa because we are such a diverse country.” 

Quinton noticed several differences between his home country and the US. For example, in South Africa, summer camps like The Fresh Air Fund are not as common. There are academic camps, similar to summer school, but not sleepaway camps. He was also surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for soccer; everyone wanted to play basketball instead! 

“I learned that the campers love basketball more than soccer. Some of the other international counselors wanted to play soccer, but the kids loved basketball! Even though I’m not that good, I enjoyed playing basketball.” 

For Quinton, one of the most important elements of being a counselor is communication.  

We learned that in order for you to have effective communication with somebody, you have to show campers that you respect them.


By creating an environment that emphasized open communication and prioritizing listening, Quinton was able to connect with the campers.  

After a successful summer, Quinton was quick to recommend working as a counselor to his friends and sign up again as soon as the application opened.  

“Summer is for a lifetime. When I miss camp, I always go to my phone gallery and check the pictures. I just can’t wait to come back!” 

Are you ready to have your summer of a lifetime? Learn more about camp here