We know what it's like...in between the end of 'Neighbours' and the start of 'The 6 O'Clock News', your son or daughter vaguely mentioned something about spending next summer working in the US with Camp America - and right now you're thinking "Camp who?" Perfectly understandable - you have questions galore... "Just who are this 'Camp America' and how does my son/daughter know that they're not some fly-by-night company who will take the money and run?" "How do I know that my child will be looked after while they're away? I mean they may be a bit messy sometimes, but that doesn't mean they're not loved!" that kind of thing...
Well fear not. Here's a summing up of the programme, costs and insurance details that should hopefully address your concerns, and allow you to give your son or daughter your blessing to spend the summer away (and more importantly allow you to start planning what you're going to do with all that free time!)
The Camp America Programme
Camp America was established in 1969 and is part of a larger group called the American Institute for Foreign Study founded and owned by Sir Cyril Taylor, GBE. Camp America has offices in Australia, Germany, and Poland with head offices in London, UK and Stamford, USA.
Camp America is a cultural exchange programme that each year provides over 7,000 young people from all over the world with the opportunity to work up to 9 weeks in a placement on a summer camp in the USA.
We currently work with hundreds of summer camps all over the US. There are various camp types including private, agency, disadvantaged, special needs, Girl Scout and day camps.
Taking part in Camp America has many benefits. It can help improve the confidence, responsibility and communication skills of young people as well as encourage and develop their independence and life experience. Employers have long recognised the Camp America programme as one that provides young people with employability skills that are key to any succesful organisation and this is a major buzzword around every university and college in the UK, and something that is being driven by the government. Travel also helps broaden horizons and introduces a better understanding of other cultures.
Applying to Camp America will involve completing stage one of the on-line application form, paying a first deposit fee and attending an interview with a trained and vetted Camp America interviewer. Generally our interviewer's are young people who have participated on the programme for two or more years, and their responsibility is to assess that anyone applying to Camp America possesses the skills, experience, maturity and ability to participate. Interviewers generally conduct interviews in their own time with the majority of interviews taking place either in the interviewer's home or local to the interviewer's area.
Application & Paperwork
Applicants are required to complete a two stage on-line application which should be submitted with two references (which should adhere to our reference requirements) and either an Enhanced CRB/DBS form (for applicants from England & Wales), an Access NI form (for Northern Irish applicants) or a Police Certificate from ACPO (for Scottish applicants.) Once placed applicants will be required to complete a visa application with their local US Embassy (in some cases this may be on-line) and arrange for a Camp America medical form to be completed by their doctor. Applicants will receive information regarding their application and placement via our 'Camp America Direct' web system.
Please note: Unless otherwise stated, acceptance onto the programme in no way guarantees a placement.
As a visa sponsor designated by the US State Department, Camp America will provide placed applicants with the necessary DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility) which is required to apply for a J-1 visa. Additional forms are supplied via the website of the US Embassy of London and Camp America provides all applicants with detailed instructions on their Camp America Online Account, which offer a step-by-step process throughout the entire visa application.
The applicant will then be required to attend a personal interview at their local US Embassy (in the UK, this will be at either the US Embassy in London or the Consulate General's Office in Belfast) and it should be noted that this could take a couple of hours to attend and costs of travel to and from the Embassy is the responsibility of the applicant. Camp America staff are situated outside the Embassy In London, on what we call 'J-Days', to provide additional support to the applicants and make sure they're fully prepared for their interview. The vast majority of our applicants have their Embassy appointment on a ‘J-Day’ and so have our support throughout the day.
As a legal visa sponsor, Camp America provides fully-comprehensive medical insurance which will cover the participant for claims up to $500,000 for the entire time they are in the US (or 153 days) with the Camp America programme. It should be noted that the insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions and any applicants who have an existing condition will be required to obtain their own personal cover for this.
Provision of medical insurance is required as a visa sponsor and therefore is mandatory for participants to take the Camp America medical insurance. Baggage insurance is provided for a fee, but is optional to the applicant.
Camp America Fees & Refunds
For the breakdown of our current fees, please click here. Please also note that Camp America does not cover certain charges and travel costs that participants may incur.
All payments are non-refundable if the cancellation is made by the applicant - however if cancellation is a result of a bona fide medical reason, that is backed-up with an official confirmation, all payments will be refunded. Additionally if a placement is not found a full refund will be issued.
Camp America charges a fee both to the applicant and to the camp. Fees are charged to cover the costs of running a fully-supportive programme which includes flights to and from New York, the provision of medical insurance, staffing, provision of orientations and the work incurred in searching for and securing a placement on summer camp.
Placements & Camps
Participants are expected to complete a placement that will last a minimum of 9 weeks (10 weeks for day camps). Whilst on a camp, participants are answerable to the Camp Director. It should be noted that camps in the US often have very strict rules and regulations regarding areas such as curfews, alcohol, smoking and behaviour towards campers and staff. Participants should expect to be asked to leave camp if they break camp rules. Being fired is not a pleasant experience and to minimise the disruption on camp it should be understood that following a firing participants may be asked to leave camp immediately. Camp America will then work with the participant regarding the situation.
Travel to and from the US
Once a placement is confirmed, Camp America arranges a flight to the US and provides instructions for onward travel to camp which may be via plane, train or bus. It should be understood that, where group travel is not possible, participants may be required to travel alone. Fees paid out in overland travel to camp will be reimbursed by the camp. At the end of their placement, participants are required to make their own way back to New York for their flight home. Camp America offers flights from other specified airports in the US for a small fee.
Terms and Conditions
Before applying, applicants are asked to read and confirm they have understood all the Camp America Terms & Conditions. For a full copy of these terms and conditions please click here.