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This update is….perhaps less of an update than we were hoping to be able to give you…but here we go!
Let’s recap on the last few days…currently travel bans both out of the UK and into the US remain in place, but we heard a little more about the Government’s plans with regards to international travel with a planned traffic light system being introduced in the coming weeks. The Government’s Advisory Board (in charge of developing and implementing the strategy for international travel) have suggested that countries will be assigned to the red, amber or green categories based on risk. Green countries (which will have no isolation requirement on return) will be based on the countries posing the lowest risk based on vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern and their genomic sequence capacity. We are encouraged that the highly successful vaccination roll-out in the US will likely mean that they’re considered a ‘Green Light’ country. We will wait to find out!
But even with all the waiting and uncertainty, there are a few things we already know. We know that even with the travel restrictions, the UK Government have said people travelling for work will be permitted to travel, and we have received legal advice that participants on our programme can fall under the category of work.
We are still waiting to hear from the US Embassy regarding the resumption of Non-immigrant visa services (which will include the J1).
As things appear to be moving in the right direction, we will be dispatching DS2019 forms for those who are currently placed – we will email you once your DS2019 is on the way! We encourage you to complete the online DS-160 form, which will allow you to book and pay for your visa appointment at a later date (once Embassy appointments are open and we can confirm your SEVIS receipt). For full instructions and help with your DS-160 form visit: www.campamerica.co.uk/visa.
As ever, please continue to log in to your ‘My Camp America’ account to keep up to date with any ‘to-do’ items –and we’ll be in touch with another update very soon!
Coronavirus restrictions allowing, the program is currently going ahead and we are hopeful that applicants will be able to go to camp this summer. We expect that as lockdowns are lifted Embassies will open up, and current travel bans will be replaced with testing requirements. We will continue to update our COVID-19 page and if there is no new information, then it is because the situation is currently the same.
Whilst Camps would love staff to get the vaccine if it is available we have explained that general vaccination isn’t available in your age group yet. However, if you have had it that is good for us to know & share with the camps, we can make a note on your application by emailing [email protected] . We also strongly recommend you download the NHS app which will show any vaccinations you have. If you get the chance to have a COVID vaccination – take it! Finally, if you have had the COVID vaccination, please add these details to your medical form i.e. vaccine type, and if 1 or 2 doses.
Yes. Under current US rules, you will need a COVID test no more than three days (72 hrs) before flying to the US. Rapid tests are available at most major airports – it will be up to you to ensure you have complied with the correct testing protocols prior to your flight. You will not be allowed to board without proof of a negative test. Any costs incurred will be your responsibility. Details around international travel are changed frequently by Governments and Health Departments – it is your responsibility to ensure that you have read any guideline relevant to your travel. For more information on guidelines for travelling to the US please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html
You will also be required to complete a form prior to your flight – for more information please see https://uk.usembassy.gov/information-about-covid-tests-for-travelers-from-the-uk-to-us/.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have read any guidelines relevant to your travels from the US to your home country. It is very likely you will be required to provide a negative test prior to boarding a flight. For further information please check the relevant Government websites. For more information on travelling to the UK please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers
You should ensure you organise your test with a provider who understands it is a test to travel and undertakes to provide results within a viable timeframe. However, if for some reason this goes wrong, we will find out if your camp will accept a later start date, or may try to find an alternative camp with later placement for you. Consider our additional Trip Cancellation insurance cover to protect your costs and non-refundable payments.
We will work with your camp to see if they are able to take you later. If they can’t we will try to may try to find a new placement for you. Consider our additional Trip Cancellation insurance cover to protect your costs and non-refundable payments.
If you test positive before your flight home, you will be required to isolate for 10 days following a positive test. It will be your responsibility to find suitable accommodation during this time. Consider our Upgrade Insurance which includes Trip Delay to provide coverage of up to $1500 ($100 per day) to help cover costs associated with this.
Upon arrival at your destination in the US it is recommended that you get tested 3-5 days after your trip and remain at camp to self-quarantine for 7 days. Many camps are bringing staff 1-2 weeks before campers’ arrivals in order to keep staff isolated prior to the start of camp.
Regarding returning to your home country, it is your responsibility to check any procedures that are in place regarding quarantine or isolation and ensure you adhere to these. In England, there is currently no requirement by the Government for arrivals from the US to quarantine in a managed hotel, but you are required to isolate at home for 10 days. As procedures currently stand in England, you will be required to take two COVID tests after you arrive back to England. For more details on this (and costs involved), please visit https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control/before-you-leave-for-the-uk
If you are flying to the US from Glasgow/Edinburgh you will be given the choice to return to the same city or back into London. You should check local quarantine/testing requirements to determine which return city works best for you. Selection will be made online at a later date.
Globally, there are currently a number of travel bans in place preventing citizens from certain countries from travelling out of that country. The US has additionally a current ban on a number of countries prohibited from entering the US (for the most up to date list please see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html). However as global vaccination programmes take effect, we anticipate that these bans will be lifted, and international travel will be able to resume by the summer. Nearer the time, when we have more information on policies and regulations regarding travel, we will put procedures in place if needed.
In some countries, applications for summer 2022 are open now! Please check our website for details. In the UK we expect to open applications for summer 2022 in the coming weeks – please check out website for details!
In the UK, we expect the US Embassy in London will fully re-open in-line with the UK Government’s lockdown ‘road map’. As soon as J1 visa appointments are open, we will let you know! In other countries you should check with your local office or US Embassy.
If you have rolled over from summer 2020 to summer 2021, you will be able to use last year’s medical form, unless your camp is has indicated you need a more up to date form to comply with their local Health Department rules. If you have since received the Covid vaccination – it will be important to add this to your medical form so please write details of how many doses you have had (either 1 or 2) and the type of vaccine you have received and the associated dates.
Your medical insurance (which you receive as part of your programme when you make the required payments) covers your medical costs if you get COVID-19 while away. Our Upgrade Insurance now includes Trip Delay coverage for your return from the US. An additional Trip Cancellation insurance is also available. Both of these additional insurance can be purchased via your ‘My Camp America’ account.
We are aware that the US State Department has recently updated their guidance regarding expanding the Interview Waiver eligibility (which gives consular officers the ability to waive the in-person interview for applicants who had previously been granted a J1 visa within the past 48 months). Please note this decision is taken by each individual embassy and doesn’t guarantee that participants with previously issued J1 visas will receive a visa or have the ability to travel to the US. Whilst this step gives us reason to feel more optimistic, we are still awaiting further clarification and guidance (particularly regarding the continued travel ban – into the US) from the US State Department. As a visa sponsor we are in regular contact with the US State Department.
We are also awaiting clarification regarding the recent UK travel ban announcement regarding eligibility to travel outside of the UK for the purposes of a staff placement on summer camp. When we do have an update, we will of course let you know! Things change rapidly as Governments (both here and in the US) introduce travel rulings around the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re always keen to ensure we’re giving you information that is verified and current. For now, it’s still a case of hanging tight! As soon as we know something concrete, we’ll be in touch!
We welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement regarding the ‘road map’ to lifting lockdown restrictions in the UK.
We were particularly pleased to see that in April, non-essential shops will be able to reopen and thus we fully anticipate that at this time, US Embassies will be able to resume their non-immigrant visa services.
We were also happy to hear that, following a review in April, international travel is expected to resume in May – we don’t know about you – but we can’t wait to get out there!
In a normal season (and we know that this season is anything but normal!) April, May and June are our busiest months – with participants heading to the Embassy to get their visas, getting their medical forms completed, making their final payments before heading off to the airport – and in many ways, this should be the same this year. However, there are bound to be some changes and challenges along the way and we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a number of important areas.
Getting set for the summer!
The Camp America staff are currently working hard to make sure applications are complete so we can run visa papers –when the US Embassies open they’re sure to be busy! It is vitally important that you log-in to your ‘My Camp America’ account on a regular basis and check for any instructions you have been given!
We have worked with Care-Med our insurance providers to bring you 2 additional insurance packages our Upgrade Insurance (which includes trip delay coverage for your flight back from the US) and Trip Cancellation insurance. We hope that these will give further peace of mind. More detailed information regarding both the Upgrade and Trip Cancellation insurance will be posted soon so please keep an eye on the Insurance page of your ‘My Camp America’ account.
Medical Forms & the NHS app
Our amazing NHS staff have been on the front-line since April last year, and as the vaccination roll-out continues, there may be a chance for some applicants to get their first vaccination shot. If you get the chance – WE STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO DO SO! Where possible, you should still have your Camp America medical form completed (and if you’ve had a COVD vaccine please note this on the form including date of dose 1, date of dose 2 (if applicable) and which vaccine you had), but we also ask you to utilise the excellent NHS app that is available on IOS and Android as this gives you easy access to print your medical and vaccination records – should the need arise.
Similar to last season, there are always going to be questions that will crop up ahead of your summer travels. We can’t pretend to always know all the answers – but as the COVID-19 lockdown situation (particularly regarding travel) becomes clearer we will keep this FAQ page updated
So – for now, sit tight, while we work hard behind the scenes to get you closer to a summer to remember!
The summer is just a few months away…the days will soon be longer, the sun will start shining and camp will be calling.
Applications are still open for 2021, at this current time we are running as usual and looking forward to placing you all at camp this summer. We will be keeping an eye on the situation over the coming months, and take into account any information that effects the program. We are hopeful that by the summer, there will be a good level of normality and the program will run as usual. We will ensure that if there are any requirements regarding travel this summer, that protocols are abided by and there will be procedures in place to keep our applicants safe.
As we draw near to the end of what has been the most unexpected and difficult year for all of us, we thought that we’d take a moment to look back, as well as look forward to summer 2021.
The Camp America team has spent the last few months apart, working from home – and we (like so many people around the globe) have missed the fun and banter of the office – where we all share a love of camp and are passionate about delivering the best summer possible to as many young people as we can.
For the US camp community, last summer proved to be a difficult time – for many, the US Center for Disease Control guidelines aimed at sleepaway camps came very late in some states, which meant a number of camps had to take the difficult decision not to open for summer 2020. However, in true summer camp style they got creative! Many ran as day camps, a lot went virtual and we even heard some fantastic stories about ‘drive-by’ camps!
We felt the disappointment of those who were due to head stateside for their first summer and we felt the heartbreak of those staff who were hoping to return to camp for their second, third or double digit summers! We’ve seen so many virtual staff reunions, it’s always wonderful to see staff re-connect after camp, but it was especially great to see so many international camp staff connect online with their ‘second families’ in the US. Camp America’s parent company AIFS’ mission is ‘to bring the world together, we feel that this still held true despite everything that was keeping us apart.
In the middle of all of it though, some camps did open their doors for residential camp – allowing their staff and campers to experience a summer of relative normality – and we were proud that over one hundred Camp America participants were able to make the journey to the US to help those camps make summer happen. They showed us that camp can operate safely – and brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘living in the camp bubble!’
Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the positive news about vaccine development as well as the plan for rapid testing which will allow the world to open up again. Many airports and airlines are busy putting plans in place to allow international travel to resume safely and of course the camps we work with are already busy making plans for the summer ahead to ensure that they deliver a fun and safe summer to their campers – and our participants will be a big part of that.
COVID is likely to be a fixture of our landscape for some time to come, but we’re confident that we’ll all find a way to navigate our lives around it, be it through vaccine or testing and we’re confident too that we’ll get back to summer in 2021 – we’ve missed it!
Applications are open! We know there will be some Coronavirus questions regarding next summer, 2021, so we wanted to update you as best we can. Applications are now open for 2021, at this current time we are running as usual and looking forward to placing you all at camp for next year. We will be keeping an eye on the situation over the year, and take into account any information that effects the program. We are hopeful that in a year’s time, there will be a good level of normality and the program will run as it usual. We will ensure that if there are any requirements regarding travel next summer, that protocols are abided by and there will be procedures in place to keep our applicants safe. Our recruitment fairs that take place in January, will not be running in the regular format, but we are working on some exciting online fairs, to get you placed! We will continue to update you throughout the year.
On June 22nd 2020, the President of the United States released a new Presidential Proclamation, suspending visas for foreign workers until the end of December 31st 2020. Although the proclamation is strongly focused on the HB visas (which bring workers to permanent positions in the US), it unfortunately does also currently include the J1 visa, which covers both camp counsellors and campower staff. This was not an unexpected announcement, and those applicants who have a valid J-1 visa will still be able to travel this summer, but we know for those that were unable to attend a visa interview prior to the Embassies closing for lockdown, this will be a disappointment. However summer 2021 is unaffected and we are excited to launch our 2021 season in July. We have fought hard over the years to maintain the J1 visa and are committed to the positive and important outcomes that a summer spent at camp, sharing your culture with Americans can bring. The suspension is temporary, so although times may seem uncertain, we will continue to work hard towards summer 2021, and look forward to bringing the world together at camp again!
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