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Coronavirus Update

24th July 2020

We would like to start off by thanking all of our AmeriCampers, sponsors and everybody within the AmeriCamp and extended Summer Camp community, for your love and support, in these unprecedented times. We truly love every single one of you!

Our 11th season got off to an amazing start, and we were looking forward to helping more people than ever before, from all around the world, experience culture exchange as a camp counsellor in the USA this Summer by doing AmeriCamp.

Unfortunately, uncertainty had grown over the last few months due to the pandemic, the travel ban from America for set territories was still in place and now, on the 22nd June, President Trump released a Presidential Proclamation suspending new visas for foreign workers until the end of 2020. With this proclamation, we now have clarity on the next steps for all of our AmeriCampers.

Those with a current and valid J1 visa in their passports, and who want to travel, will still be able to proceed with this Summer, in line with what has to happen regarding travel bans from set territories and their camp being open, but that those who were wanting to travel, and waiting on the embassy to re-open to obtain their visa, now know that their cultural exchange experience with AmeriCamp will have to wait until Summer 2021.

A large majority of the camps that we work with have now also made the decision to close completely for the Summer. For some of these, and to put it into perspective, this is the first time they have been closed in over 100 years so our thoughts go to all of our Camp Directors and partners at this time.

At the start of the pandemic, none of us imagined that COVID-19 would have such a prolonged global impact and we remained optimistic, for those that wanted to travel, in getting our new and old AmeriCampers out to camp, even if the camp would look different to previous years. By being the first organisation to allow applicants to defer to 2021, no matter the circumstances, we tried our very best to give flexibility given the unprecedented times this pandemic has created and we will continue to work with everyone to ensure that they are ready for next Summer, which will no doubt be the greatest there has ever been.

Camp changes the lives of so many each year. All of us at AmeriCamp have personal experience of how transformative it can be to the lives of the kids who attend and to those that we help facilitate in getting there; for some of them, it is the highlight of the year, where they feel most safe and it is their true home. Our past AmeriCampers know that the bonds made are more than friendship, they are family, so to not be able to facilitate this in 2020 is truly devastating.

We are so grateful to all of our AmeriCampers, and we are delighted that the vast majority have been able to defer their application to 2021 meaning that they can still experience everything that camp has to offer. The Presidential Proclamation is set to end on the 31st December 2020 and we are already so excited for next year’s program!

So from myself and all of us here at AmeriCamp, thank you so much for all of your patience, love, support and for being a part of our program and community. You really are the best.

Stay safe and bring on Summer 2021!

Much Love, stay safe and we will see you soon!

Lauren O’Donnell

Head of AmeriCamp

25th May 2020

Hello AmeriCampers,

We hope you are well and staying safe at this time!

Your health and wellbeing is our number 1 priority at AmeriCamp and we want to make sure that you getting to camp will be safe. In light of this, we are in constant contact with the US Department of State, health authorities and our own government to ensure that you will be keeping to health and safety requirements at camp this Summer.

On the 11th May, the 60 day travel ban on J1 visa holders entering America ended and was not renewed. However, currently – due to the Presidential Proclamations made on March 11th and 14th – arrivals from the UK, Ireland and the rest of the 26-Schengen Area countries continue to be prohibited from entering the US. We are waiting for an update from the Department of State as to when you will be able to travel and will keep you updated as we hear more.

Camps are currently working to rearrange start dates to accommodate these travel bans.

Will I get less money for the Summer if my start date changes?

If you are a first time applicant your camp will still pay you the minimum pocket money allowance of $1600 if you are under 21 or $1750 if you are over 21 despite possible shorter contract dates. If you are a returner you are still responsible for negotiating your allowance directly with your camp!

My camp has cancelled, what do I do?

If your camp has been cancelled, we will be in touch to discuss your options. If you would like to contact us in the meantime, you can call the office between 10-6pm on weekdays on 01613 123640 or email us at [email protected]

Can I defer my application now?

We understand that you may wish to defer your application and we are able to defer all the fees that you have paid over to next year’s program or 2022. We will also cover the costs of reprinting your DBS and reprocessing your DS2019 for 2021 or 2022 if you have already paid these this year. If you would like to defer you can email us at [email protected] and we can get this sorted for you.

Can I cancel my application now?

If you would like to cancel completely, we will waive all cancellation fees. If you would like to do this, again you can get in contact with us at [email protected].

Overview

We hope that we can find a solution that suits you whether that means to continue with this year’s program, defer, or cancel. We know that everyone has different needs at this time and we will work with you individually to find a solution. We really appreciate your support as AmeriCampers at this time and hope that you will still be able to join us whether it is this Summer or in the future.

We will continue to update you as the situation progresses, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team. The best way to reach us is [email protected]. We are overwhelmed with the love and support that we have received from you at this time. We are all in this together and we can’t wait until this madness is behind us and we can continue to make the American dream your reality.

Much love and stay safe!

The AmeriCamp Team xxx

13th May 2020

We have not received a clear update as of yet. We continue to thank you for your patience during this time and appreciate all of the lovely messages that we have received so far.

We will be in touch when we know more and are still calling to check in on all of our AmeriCamp applicants. If you have yet to receive one of these calls and are keen to get in touch, please email [email protected] with your availability.

Much Love,

The AmeriCamp Team x

5th May 2020

We would like to thank everyone in our AmeriCamp family for their patience and understanding during this difficult time. We hope that you and your families are safe and well during these tough times.

It is fair to say that none of us could have foreseen the Coronavirus and we are working around the clock to help everyone on an individual basis during these unprecedented times.  

With nearly every AmeriCamper having their own set of circumstances, the personal touch matters to us and a one size fits all approach is not how we do things, but below we have tried to answer some of the main questions that have arisen to help and guide where necessary as we continue to reach out to everyone over the phone. 

To put what we have done so far into context; from the very outset of the pandemic from our one on one phone calls we have tried to give as much flexibility as possible and allow each AmeriCamp participant the choice on what they would like to do this Summer; to put the power in the hands of each of you.

From our phone calls so far it is fair to say that the vast majority of you still want to do AmeriCamp this Summer, but some of you would like to defer to 2021 or 2022. 

Our feedback so far from you is that a lot of you are waiting for updates from either camps themselves if already placed, or want to wait and see where you are placed or an update on what is happening in each individual state. Some of you are wanting to stay flexible and see what happens when we get an update from the US Department of State, whilst others are waiting to hear about what is happening with the ability to travel. The situation is very fluid and we are trying our very best to prepare for every eventuality and all situations that could arise.

Below we have tried to put some points down to help you with what we know, what our thoughts are and what we are doing to help those of you that either want to do AmeriCamp this year or to defer to 2021 or 2022. We have also tried to cover some of the points that have been raised so far from AmeriCampers over the calls we have had.

1. We are taking advice from the Government and the US Department of State and are currently awaiting an update regarding the May 10th travel ban. We are also waiting for the next steps from the US Embassies in London and Belfast. As soon as we have any updates we will let you know as soon as we can.

We have yet to receive any further updates and instead have tried to speak to everyone personally where possible because everyone has a different set of circumstances. As mentioned a one size fits all approach does not work when everyone has different start dates in a variety of states across the USA.

We do, however, expect an update by mid-May and once we have received more factual information, we will be in contact with you.

2. A small number of the camps we work with have made the tough decision to close for the summer. We have been in touch with everyone affected so far, but this continues to be monitored as camps inform us of their circumstances each day.

We understand the decisions some camps have had to sadly make and we are working with participants to find a new placement, defer their place at camp until next year or to defer their applications to 2021 or 2022 entirely.

3. Most of the camps have told us that they are preparing for the summer to go ahead, but it may be slightly later than usual.

President Trump has stated that he wants Summer Camps in the USA to open as part of phase two for reopening states in America and it is our understanding that he sees those that work at camp as essential workers.

The American Camp Association are already working on best practices for camps to open and are currently working with over 3000 members on how to run this Summer.

We will work with you on any changes that need to be made in relation to your start date or your application, but this shows us that most camps will run this Summer. 

With this in mind, and if you really want to do AmeriCamp this Summer it is vital that you put yourself in the best possible position by ensuring you are as up to date with your application.

If you want to do AmeriCamp this year our advice to you is that you will need to be flexible and potentially work around a slightly later than usual start date, but you must be prepared and ready to go with no delay.

We cannot be responsible for your placement not happening if you are not up to date with everything that is required to be completed.

4. You will receive the full amount of pocket money for the Summer even if camp runs for a shorter period of time.

5. You will be covered for Coronavirus as part of your medical insurance.

6. We will allow you to defer your application to Summer 2021 or 2022 if you are at Stage Two or Stage Three of the AmeriCamp Process.

You will not have to pay any extra costs for Stages One, Two or Three of the AmeriCamp process in the future if you are at Stages 2 or 3.

If you are at Stage Two we will freeze the cost of what is owed for Stage 3 until 2021 or 2022 as part of a deferral, but to be considered for this year you must be up to date with everything and be at a minimum of Stage 2.

You will also be able to defer even if you are already placed at a camp.

7. No cancellation fees

You will not incur a cancellation fee and all program fees and third-party costs paid directly to AmeriCamp will be covered by us for your deferred application in 2021 or 2022.

8. AmeriCamp will pay for an updated CRB check for all of those that defer to the 2021 and 2022 seasons as well as covering any extra costs that might be added at that time. 

9. To ensure social distancing we have made our orientations into e-orientations and we will be sending out an email to anyone who has signed up for one currently. It is vital that you have completed an orientation because you are unable to do AmeriCamp without having completed one.

(If you have not yet signed up for an orientation, please email us on [email protected] with subject Orientation and we will help you arrange one of these online orientations)

Overview

We would like to thank you for all of your support throughout this time. 

We know how tough it is and we wish that we could give you all of the answers, but right now it is still a waiting game until we know more and we are trying to stay as positive as possible because negativity gets you nowhere. Believe us when we say that we are all in this together. The majority of our team all go back to camp every year and it is very likely that who you speak to on the phone or through emails are in the exact same situation as you. If you are placed at a camp try and be proactive by speaking to the camp so you too can be over-prepared on potential next steps. Our team members over the phone can help with all this.

By trying to put all of the questions we are receiving across all platforms into emails and calls only, we have been able to manage expectations so much more. We did this to try and ensure nothing is missed, so again we thank you for your patience. We hope that any frustrations you might have had are now put into context given the calls and the update here. We receive so many messages when people feel scared about the unknown from others and because everyone has different circumstances it is incredibly difficult to answer without others thinking that it is also for them, hence why we have made some of the difficult decisions that we have.

Hopefully, through all of our calls and the update here you now feel a bit more secure about your options and the flexibility you have. By doing this you can feel rest assured that you will be doing AmeriCamp at some point; whether that is this Summer or next year and beyond. The power is in your hands and at no extra cost to you.

We are working with a smaller team than usual and we are all working from home due to the government restrictions, so we appreciate your patience and for those of you that have sent us the lovely messages we cannot thank you enough for brightening our days. It really does mean the world to us because we care so much about the AmeriCamp program and all of the AmeriCamp family; every single one of you.

We sincerely hope that our actions show you how much we care and now the decision is in your hands as to whether or not you would like to do AmeriCamp this Summer or in 2021 or 2022. 

If you would like to discuss your own personal set of circumstances further please email us at [email protected] and we will try to get back to you as quickly as possible and schedule a time to speak. The team are also calling everyone to simply check-in and see how you’re all feeling, where your head is currently at and potential next steps so if you see a random number calling it is probably us, so please answer. It’s always good to talk.

Our advice is to hang tight and wait for the next set of updates where possible, but the power is in your hands.

Much love, take care

The AmeriCamp Team xxx

24/03/2020

We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to self-isolation in order to flatten the Coronavirus curve and believe that these necessary steps will help the embassies open quicker and ensure that the J-1 Cultural Exchange program goes ahead as planned for Summer 2020.

18/03/2020

During recent times, the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) has been a major talking point and has had an unforeseeable effect on every aspect of the world, especially for travel companies. At AmeriCamp we prioritise the Safety and Wellbeing of all our participants and staff both in the UK and around the world. 

We are following advice from the World Health Organisation & Foreign Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and other authorities around the world in order to ensure that we can provide the best advice and care for everyone involved with AmeriCamp. 

We would like to take this opportunity to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about how this virus may affect your trip.

Is AmeriCamp still running this summer?

Right now AmeriCamp is still going ahead, yes.

Are applications still open?

We are still accepting applications, if you would like to apply for Summer 2020. We encourage you to get through Stage One and Stage Two as soon as possible. In the unlikely scenario, you are unable to do AmeriCamp this Summer, all program fees will be deferred to Summer 2021. We would also cover any future fees you have paid for your police background check (completed through AmeriCamp) and your visa documentation fee.

I’m supposed to start my AmeriCamp placement before May 10th, what do I do?

If you were supposed to start your AmeriCamp journey prior to May 10th, we will be in contact with you directly about changing your start date. Similarly, if you know your start date has changed already, we will also be in touch with you directly. 

Camps have been very open and understanding about the possibility that you may arrive late for camp. Each individual camp will work with us to make every AmeriCamp placement possible even if you do end up turning up late. They are prepared for all eventualities and truly excited to see you this Summer!

My exams have been delayed, what should I do?

We will be able to discuss this further on an individual basis if you know your exam dates will affect your AmeriCamp placement. We may be able to change your start date and will speak with our visa sponsor and camps to clarify this for you. If you know your camp dates have changed already, please give us an email to [email protected]

Can I go to the Embassy for my visa appointment?

At present, due to current circumstances, the London and Belfast embassies have temporarily closed and are due to re-open after the isolation period. For other countries, please check with your relevant embassy. If we receive any further updates, we will contact you with next steps. Once they have re-opened, you will be able to schedule or reschedule your appointment. Our visa sponsor is still processing the visa documentation for AmeriCamp placements as normal.

What happens in the unlikely scenario that the AmeriCamp (J-1) program is further delayed or cancelled for Summer 2020?

  1. If the J-1 program is further delayed to the point that you are unable to get to camp by the start of your contract, we will work with you and your camp to change your start date.
  2. If the unlikely scenario the J-1 program is cancelled, we will apply a free deferral to 2021 & 2022 with all amounts rolling over.
  3. If the unlikely scenario the J-1 program is cancelled, AmeriCamp would take care of your CRB, Visa Documentation Fee for a future placement in 2021 or 2022.

I’m #plACed, what happens if my camp is cancelled?

If in the unlikely scenario that the camp you have been hired at cancels your placement for the Summer, we will work on finding you a new AmeriCamp placement. If in the unlikely event that the J-1 program does not happen then your placement at that particular camp where possible will roll on to 2021 or a new AmeriCamp placement will be found for you.

My start date for doing AmeriCamp has changed, do I need to do anything?

If your start date has changed we will contact you about changing your visa documentation (DS2019 form) but your visa will be fine and will stay the same.

If I cancel now due to coronavirus will I get a refund?

The AmeriCamp program is still running, therefore, we will not be issuing any refunds due to COVID-19.

Our advice is to be up to date on all documentation and stages of your AmeriCamp application so that you are ready for next steps. Failure to be up to date on all documentation and stages may result in a non-deferral offer. Please be assured that any fee paid to AmeriCamp in a worst case scenario would be deferred to 2021 or 2022.

Where can I get more information on Covid-19?

To get the most recent updates you can monitor the World Health Organisation – https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

I have already booked my flights. What happens if my date or location changes?

In this case you should check that you have included trip insurance so you’re covered in these events. We suggest getting in contact with your airline or booking agent to see what options are available in these circumstances. As of right now, nearly all airlines are offering free date changes on flights over the next year.

Should I get travel insurance for my trip?

You must be satisfied that your insurance fully covers all your personal requirements and circumstances, including travel insurance and pre-existing medical conditions. 

Am I insured if I contract Coronavirus in the US?

If in the unfortunate event you contract COVID-19 whilst doing AmeriCamp, we have worked with our visa sponsor to ensure you will be covered by the medical insurance you are provided with. This is our commitment to each of our applicants and shows we are going the extra mile. 

How can I get in contact if I have any other questions about the Coronavirus?

If your questions have not been answered here you can contact us by:

Phone: +44 (0)161 312 3640 Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm 

Email: [email protected]

Live chat service: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm 

Please be aware that our teams are currently experiencing a high number of calls and messages and will respond as soon as possible.

What should I do next?

Firstly, do not cancel. If you are a new, current or returning applicant, you should continue as normal in preparation for doing AmeriCamp. Please make sure that anything that is outstanding is completed as soon as possible, including your paperwork and application.

We understand this is an uncertain time but for now please stay safe and remain patient. 

We truly believe that this summer will happen.

We’re looking to the future and we are very excited to meet you for the Summer of a Lifetime from both sides of the pond. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding. It is fair to say nobody has experienced anything like this before so it is more important than ever that we all stick together and work with one another. That is after all, the AmeriCamp spirit.

Much Love, 

The AmeriCamp team x

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