Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
At Camp Leaders, we know that the unprecedented global situation we all face is challenging every aspect of our day-to-day lives.
As a travel-based company, while it’s difficult for us to witness the world on lockdown, with social distancing and travel bans commonplace, we firmly believe in the measures being taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
At this point, we wanted to take the time to update you on what is happening behind the scenes at Camp Leaders and Smaller Earth:
- The Exchange Visitor Program, the visa on which the Camp Leaders program operates, is suspended until May 11th. All departure dates prior to this have been rearranged to later dates.
- Our team, who are working remotely from their homes all across the globe, are continuing to work diligently alongside our American visa sponsors and partner camps to prepare for the upcoming summer. Our goal of providing a life changing summer experience has not changed, and our partner camps remain excited to welcome international staff.
- Your start dates, travel arrangements, visa appointments and length of time at camp, may change over the coming days and weeks as we navigate our way through this unprecedented situation. With this we ask that you continue to remain as positive, open and flexible as possible.
- Due to the coronavirus outbreak we are operating with reduced levels of staff. This is having an impact on communication response times and capacity. We ask that anyone who is not due to travel in the near future help us by waiting for us to contact them first. Where possible please use our online help section and coronavirus FAQs (see below).
- Our utmost priority is the safety of our participants, staff, and partners, and we will only facilitate travel if it is safe to do so. We are following the advice and information from the U.S Department of State, local government authorities, and our partner visa sponsors and camps.
- As a precautionary measure, we are working on alternative plans for the unlikely instance that it is not safe for the program to go ahead. Further information will be released in the near future. As of now (31/03/20) the Camp Leaders program is still going ahead and standard program agreement terms apply.
Most importantly, we would like to thank our participants, partners and staff for their overwhelmingly positive response during these difficult times. We have received many positive messages via phone, email, and livechat, as well as on our social media pages. Although the near future may be uncertain for us all, we are reminded that positivity, kindness, and cultural exchange are here to stay.
Wszyscy zastanawiamy się kiedy zakończy się trwająca pandemia. Podczas gdy pozytywne wiadomości z Chin mieszają się z niepokojącymi relacjami z południa Europy, najlepszym, co możemy zrobić dla siebie samych jest nie popadanie w panikę i zdroworozsądkowe spojrzenie na niepewną rzeczywistość wokół.
Działania rządowe, które wiążą się z nakazem pozostania w domach, przyjmujemy ze zrozumieniem wierząc, że pomogą one w powstrzymaniu pandemii. Uczelnie i szkoły zamknięte są od 10 dni zaś większość firm działa w systemie pracy zdalnej.
Biuro Camp Leaders w Polsce działa dla Was nieprzerwanie: na bieżąco odpowiadamy na maile oraz odbieramy telefony, z tą tylko różnicą, że każdy z nas robi to z domu. Skupiamy się głównie na przygotowaniu aplikacji uczestników do uzyskania numeru SEVIS, tak aby w połowie maja rozpocząć procedury wizowe.
Szkolenia przedwyjazdowe planujemy w systemie online.
Pracujemy też nad przygotowaniem alternatywnych scenariuszy w przypadku gdyby wyjazdy nie mogły się odbyć ze względu na całkowite zawieszenie programu przez Departament Stanu bądź w przypadku, gdyby zobowiązania na uczelni nie pozwoliły uczestnikowi na wyjazd.
Wciąż jednakdziałamy w silnym przekonaniu i wierze, że program odbędzie się zgodnie z planem i każdy z nas będzie mógł spełnić swoje wakacyjne marzenie bez przeszkód.
Based on the current situation of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Camp Leaders have made the decision to pause all new applications for summer 2020 effective immediately. Any applications started before 17th March will be unaffected and can continue forward as normal. All new applications from 17th March 2020 will be deferred until further notice.
This decision has been made to allow us to provide our current applicants with the high standard of customer care and service we pride ourselves on.
Our summer camps are continuing to operate and are excited to welcome Camp Leaders participants this summer, and as ever, we’re excited to support you on your summer of a lifetime.
The Camp Leaders team will be reaching out directly to every applicant over the coming days and weeks, to ensure that you are supported through this challenging global situation.
Across many countries in Europe, the US Embassy has postponed visa interview appointments until further notice. We are monitoring this situation and are in close contact with our visa sponsors. We expect the postponement to last approximately 30 days.
At this time we ask that you continue to move forward with your application. Please complete all available sections to ensure you are ready when visa interview appointments are re-opened.
If you have a visa appointment scheduled on or before 16th April, the Camp Leaders team will reach out to you directly. We recommend that all applicants wait to be contacted about their visa appointments.
On March 13th the US Department of State announced the temporary pause of international exchange programs due to COVID-19. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will temporarily pause all ECA funded programs. This has also been extended to privately funded programs which includes the Exchange Visitor Program, the visa on which the Camp Leaders program operates. This temporary pause is expected to last 60 days.
At Camp Leaders we will continue to work towards our May and June departures and expect there to be limited impact on travel to camp.
If you have a departure date that falls before May 11th 2020 our team will be directly in touch with you.
If you are not due to travel on or before May 11th we recommend that you wait before contacting us with Coronavirus related queries to ensure we have the latest information available for your travel.
Camp Leaders are committed to the welfare and safety of our participants and have been monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely.
We are staying informed on advisories from WHO, CDC, and other relevant local and international agencies. We are also relying on updates from our US team, partners and camps. At this time based on the guidelines and information from the sources outlined above, the Camp Leaders programme will be going ahead as planned for summer 2020.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates if the situation is to change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Important: as this situation develops, these frequently asked questions may contain information that is no longer valid. We will update this page as we receive more information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Is Camp Leaders still going ahead for 2020?
Yes, the Camp Leaders program is still going ahead. Any applications started after 17th March 2020 will be deferred until further notice.
How are decisions being made about the program?
We are staying informed on the latest advisories and recommendations made by relevant government, health, and travel agencies. These include:
- The World Health Organization
- The American government
- The Foreign Office and Public Health authority of each participant's home country
We are also relying on the experience of our global head office in the UK, and our local office in the USA, as well as each of our partner camps.
Can I withdraw from the program now due to the Coronavirus?
As the program is still going ahead this summer the standard terms and conditions of your programme agreement apply, including any eligibility for a refund. We highly recommend that you continue with your application.
Are the Preparation Days still going ahead?
As a precautionary measure, to ensure the safety of each Camp Leaders applicant and our staff, we will be operating online-only Preparation Days, until further notice. Preparation Days are a mandatory requirement of the J1 visa, so completing a Preparation Day is mandatory.
What do I need to know about my upcoming visa interview?
Due to the Coronavirus, the U.S. Embassies in Europe are operating on a minimal staffing policy. Currently, they are prioritising the cases of American citizens. All visa interviews are being delayed for 30 days and will need to be rescheduled. There is no further action required from you. We will contact you to reschedule your visa interview when we receive more information.
What if I or someone else contracts the virus during the program?
All medical issues at camp will utilize the camp’s well-being protocol. Each camp's protocol will be different, but will typically include access to the camp's health center, medical professionals, and the support of local health authorities.
If I contract Coronavirus whilst on the program, will I be covered by the medical insurance?
Yes, you will receive regular insurance coverage, provided you were not diagnosed with Coronavirus before starting your trip. If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness before departure, we ask that you follow your local health authority's guidance.
What are my next steps?
At this point, based on the information we have received, applicants who are interested in the Camp Leaders programme should proceed with their applications as normal. Next steps may include submitting all necessary paperwork and completing your profile.
What should I do about booking flights?
If you are concerned about flight changes or cancellations, we would recommend booking with a credit card that provides travel and cancellation insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing additional travel insurance from a provider of your choice. For specific details of coverage in case of cancellations, we suggest discussing with your credit card or insurance provider.