Coronavirus (COVID-19) US Camp Update

Date: March 20, 2020

What do the different Visa statuses mean?

Under the ‘Visa’ section of ‘my placements’ there are different status indicators that you can see for your participants.

  1. Added to template/ready to batch: country office has started the process for a participants DS2019 form (early stages).

  2. Applied for: participant’s DS2019 form is being processed by their visa sponsor.

  3. Received by sponsor: visa sponsor has printed the participants DS2019 form.

  4. Sent-by-sponsor: participant’s DS2019 form has been sent by the visa sponsor to the country office. If the participant lives where we do not have an office, the DS2019 form is sent directly to the participant.

  5. Received by Office: country office has received the participant’s DS2019 form from the US based visa sponsor.

  6. Sent-by-office: country office has sent the DS2019 form to the participant.

  7. ---- OR (blank): participant has documents outstanding and is not ready to have their DS2019 form run.

There is also a column called ‘has visa’. If this section has a green tick mark, or says the word ‘true’ the participant has confirmed they have their visa in hand. Once the arrival suspension is lifted, these participants will be ready to enter the US.

How will participants be prioritized when the embassies reopen?

Things might look different in each country. Internally, it is our goal to get the participants slotted in for their visa appointments based on the earliest arrival dates. This will only be possible if all their documents are ready to go. We are continuing to run visa paperwork and ship DS2019 forms in order to speed up the process when the time comes.

The best way to assist your participants is to continue to urge them to upload all their visa paperwork. This way, when restrictions are lifted they are ready to head to the embassy.

Are they allowed to have digital DS2019 forms?

Under current regulations, participants must have a hand-signed, printed version of their DS2019 form, which is why we carry out such a meticulous process to make sure the forms are tracked at every step.

Date: March 19, 2020


I hope everyone is settling into a daily routine in this temporary new normal, and of course, that you and your loved ones are staying healthy. It has been uplifting in this uncertain time to catch up with so many of you. This industry is resilient, and your energy and enthusiasm to forge ahead with your summers with minimal interruption has reminded us of that resilience each day. We remain determined as ever to match you with great staff for your programs, and support you however we are able. At this point we continue to look toward a successful Summer 2020.

In an effort to keep you fully updated on developments going forward, we will be posting updates to a special website which you can access here. The same websites exist in each country where we operate, so you can also see the regular updates participants are receiving.(as an example, the website for UK participants is here). Many of you have asked, in light of embassy closures and travel restrictions, how you can be most proactive in helping ensure a timely arrival for your staff when these bans are lifted. Below are some helpful resources and suggestions that I hope you find useful.

Ivy Cohen

Camp Leaders Program Manager

How do I know if my staff member is ready to go to the embassy?

It is very important that participants have completed and uploaded all of their documents to facilitate a smooth and fast visa process. Head to your Camp Leaders profile, click on ‘My Placements’ and the gray button which says ‘Documents’. There you can see your participants’ progress on uploading their documents. You should check this for both confirmed (yellow) and placed (green) staff members. Our goal is to have everyone fully sorted with their documents when the embassies reopen, leaving the visa to be the only remaining item to take care of.

Do you know when the embassies will reopen?

We are hopeful each embassy closure will be no more than 14-30 days. Some of your staff may be seeing no availability for appointments until July. Please encourage them that Camp Leaders and their visa sponsor will be there to support them in scheduling their appointments when the embassies reopen. Our country offices, CHI and the other sponsors feel strongly about their relationships with the embassies, and it will be a collaborative effort when things are up and running to assist participants with arriving on time to camp.

Are you taking new applications?

We have made the decision to halt recruitment worldwide so our teams can focus all their efforts on providing excellent support to our existing participants. Our goal is to ensure that participants stay on the Camp Leaders program so we have focused our energy on engaging and supporting those who are already on the program or in the process of joining the program. There are many young people who are still working through their application process and are eager to find their summer home. Feel free to continue sending staffing needs over to your Camp Leaders Relationship Manager, or to me.

We are also happy to accept your Direct Placements and second-year returning counselors, even if they have not begun the application process yet. Please make sure they have a camp contract when they apply.

How do you feel?

Like many of you, the Camp Leaders team is living through an ever evolving situation. We continue to be optimistic that summer will happen. We are motivated and inspired by the creativity we’ve seen with camps offering activities for their campers on Zoom and Facebook Live. Each time we touch base with you we are encouraged by your shared optimism. So, despite all of the changes and challenges, please keep in touch -- we love hearing from you.

Date: March 13, 2020

Dear camp friends and colleagues,

I am just back from Tri-State Conference and was grateful for the time to speak with many of you personally.  The conference certainly shows the resilience of the industry in what has been quite a week for truly an unprecedented time. I write today to assure you that we are continuing to monitor the changing landscape precipitated by the spread of COVID-19. 

We are in close communication with our visa sponsors to ensure that we move forward where possible with the summer as planned.  While we can’t predict what will happen next, we can prepare. The top priority for us is, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our participants and our staff.  Additionally, it is to continue to work closely with you, our camp partners, to adjust to any changes that may emerge.  

This morning, the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) asked sponsors to pause arrivals on all J-1 Exchange Visitors for 60 days, beginning today. We are assessing this guidance to determine next steps, and it again demonstrates that the situation continues to evolve.  Because of this, we encourage you to stay informed, and we appreciate your patience as we address the changes that emerge.  Please know that we will be quick to communicate directly with you any recommendations beyond those shared by the US government or our visa sponsors.

Over the past 20 years, Camp Leaders was founded and has existed in rapidly changing industries of cultural exchange and camping.  This experience has provided us with knowledge that has always informed our innovative solutions for the camp industry. It is our hope that you will reach out to us to share any changes that may happen in your program as the summer nears.  We remain committed to working alongside you to ensure a happy, healthy and transformational summer for young people from around the world. 

Michael Thompson

US Director - Camp Leaders

If you are a participant on the Camp Leaders program, please visit here for the most up to date Coronavirus information.