The American Institute for Foreign Study (Australia) Pty Ltd opened its Australian office in 1999 and began offering its Camp America and Au Pair in America programs to young Australians. In 2005, AIFS commenced offering inbound programs and currently facilitates cultural exchange programs for more than 2,000 young people.
Updated 17th April 2020
We wanted to reach out and thank you for your continued patience through this difficult time. Just like at camp, we are all in this together!
We wanted to take some time to update you on the latest news regarding the Camp America program.
We are continuing to finalise details with the US State Department and our international offices to release our alternative plans for the 2020 summer. We understand many are concerned to travel in the current climate, we ask for your continued patience as we work to provide the best alternatives for the program. Your health, safety and well being has remained our top priority. As soon as these details have been finalised, we aim to call all our Australian participants to provide details.
The US Consulates in Australia remain closed and have cancelled the majority of appointments in May. This may shift some applicants start dates even later into the summer, should the opportunity to travel arise.
Whilst some camps have started to close for the summer, there are many that are planning to go ahead at this stage. We continue to support the summer camp industry and community, who remain positive at this time. We want to help as many participants as possible enjoy the summer they have worked so hard for.
We will continue to work diligently on your applications and will be in touch with another update soon.
The past few weeks have been difficult to comprehend for many of us. All over the world we have seen the Coronavirus pandemic touch every country and affect every community.
Like many other businesses, we are taking each day as it comes while adhering to guidelines set out by Governments both in Australia and of course in the US.
It is the beginning of April and for many camps, the summer is still far enough away that they remain positive and plan to run their camps as expected this year. Of course, the summer camp industry is diverse, and each camp will be reviewing their plans for summer 2020 and may need to make changes – some may start later or run with shorter sessions for example.
Rest assured we are actively evaluating every scenario– regardless of the outcome. We are liaising with camps, airlines and embassies.
Obviously, there continue to be many unknowns. But course, we want to help as many participants as possible enjoy the summer they’ve worked so hard for. We also want to support the camp community who remain positive and committed to this summer. Many of these are family businesses, or camps that serve vulnerable children who, this year more than any other, will need the positive reinforcement that a few weeks at camp can give you.
It is a difficult situation for all of us – but we hope that with the extreme measures many countries are taking, the peak of the virus will pass, and life will return to a new normal.
For now, we ask you for something challenging. We ask you for patience and thank the many of you who have sent positive comments and emails to us. We are all in this together!
However, even in the most challenging times there is hope. One of the most positive things to come out of this is the connections that so many communities have made (in a time you can’t connect physically) through song, music, art, the many memes that make us smile and play. In many ways these types of connections are what makes summer camp so special – and at times like these we keep the spirit of summer camp alive in each of us, until we can be together, round the camp fire by the lake in the not too distant future. Hang on in there…we promise it’s worth it!
Following the announcement made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison regarding overseas travel for Australian citizens, it is unfortunately now increasingly likely that those of you who were hoping to depart for the US in April and May, will be unable to depart in these months and will have to delay your planned departures.
This is an ever-changing global landscape at the moment, and each country has its’ own set of circumstances that we’re working within. Our aim remains to get as many participants to camp as possible, so you can enjoy the summer you've spent so much time and energy getting ready for.
We are currently working with our US office, who are working directly with camps to re-negotiate start dates from May to June and even possibly, early July. If you were due to depart in April or May, then we will be directly in contact with you in the next few weeks to discuss your plans.
As far as most camps are concerned, they hope that the summer ahead will take place as planned – although they may need to make some alterations (some may choose to shorten their sessions for example), and they remain committed to receiving the international counsellors who are so important to the culture and vibrancy of their summer staff and bringing the world to camp for their campers to enjoy.
We know many of you will have lots of questions at the moment…what happens if my camp can’t take me? What happens if I can’t leave the country? What is Camp America planning on doing if no one goes? Do I get any money back? Can I go another time?
Rest assured, that while our main objective is to get you to camp if camps are running (and to re-iterate, at the moment the majority are planning on doing so!), behind the scenes we are working on a range of alternate plans that we will put forward as and when the priority arises.
So for now, we ask you to bear with us – we know it’s hard to keep ‘treading water’ but hopefully we’ll be able to make bigger waves soon.
We understand it is a stressful and uncertain time, as the Australian and United States Governments continue to announce further restrictions to movement and airline companies grounding their flights.
Camp America are assessing and evaluating all possibilities and scenarios to determine if the 2020 season may continue. In some cases it is currently not possible to provide answers to many questions until we have updates from the US State department, the camps and our international offices. At this stage, many summer camps are still planning to go ahead, and we are working towards potential later start dates and arrivals at camp, and assessing what is possible.
Camp America are receiving a high volume of emails, calls and messages through this time. We are working to address all communications as soon as possible with a focus on those currently accepted on the 2020 Camp America program.
The health, safety and well being of our applicants is our number one priority and we will be providing regular updates as more information becomes available.
We have taken the decision to suspend interviews for the 2020 season at this time, and as of, 17th March are not accepting any new applications. We know that this will be disappointing to many of you but hope to open our 2021 recruitment season in the coming weeks, and we will look forward to welcoming you to the Camp America family at that time
We are clearly living through unprecedented times – but as a company, Camp America has been through many challenges before and we’re ready to face this one.
On Friday 13th March, the US Department of State announced entry restrictions for 60 days meaning no entry prior to May 10th. If your scheduled start date falls within this period we will be in touch in the coming days and weeks regarding a delay to your placement. We work with close to 1,000 camps so contacting all camps will take some time. Your patience and understanding while we complete this process is appreciated.
On Wednesday 18th March, the Australian Government advised Australians not to travel overseas at this time with no end date for this advisory. If this warning changes, and we have clearance from the State Department and your camp, you will be proceeding as planned on the Camp America program.
There are a number of people who are waiting to receive visa documentation. As it is currently not possible to complete an online visa application, we will not be sending visa documentation until this changes.
Our priority at this point is to assist those who wish to continue on the program. Details about cancellations will come in late June after the placements and departures of proceeding applicants are finalised.
Our staff remain committed to giving you an amazing experience this summer and we will get through this together. The power of the camp experience is too strong for us not to do so.
We are clearly living through unprecedented times – but as a company, Camp America has been through lots of unusual challenges before and we’re ready to face this one. We’ve been around for 50 years and as a division of our parent company, the American Institute for Foreign Study, we’re lucky to have some big company back-up to help see us through some difficult years.
On Friday 13th March, the US Department of State announced they were advising sponsors and organisers of ‘J’ programs to restrict travel on a world-wide basis to the US for 60 days. As we have mentioned previously, we welcome this action now by the US Government and hope that the measures they have put in place will help curtail the spread of the virus. However, this means that participants will be unable to enter the US on a J-1 visa prior to May 10th. For the vast majority of you, camps will open in June and we will continue to process your application in readiness for this departure. For some of you however, this will mean that you will need to make changes to your original plans. Camp America is here to help with this. We are contacting our camps on behalf of participants with May 1- 15 start dates and will work with you directly in regards to your placement.
We understand that these are unsettling and uncertain times, however the majority of camps are still planning to open this summer. Many of them already have extremely rigorous procedures around communicable diseases – it’s not unusual for camps to take temperatures when staff and campers first arrive for example, and many have excellent infirmaries and take medical issues extremely seriously. We have also made changes to the medical insurance which is part of our program, and COVID-19 will be treated as any other illness under insurance – which means that if you contract the virus, need to be tested for it and subsequently require treatment for a positive test, you will be covered.
The situation around each country’s response to the virus continues to evolve, and we will do our best to keep you updated. Our staff remain committed to giving you an amazing experience this summer and your health and wellbeing remains our number one priority.
As of right now, the program is still going ahead for summer 2020.
As of March 18, 2020, the United States Consulates in Australia will be reducing routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments. At this time the Consulate is currently informing those applicants with upcoming J1 visa Appointments, that they have been cancelled.
The US Consulate will resume routine visa services as soon as possible and, while unable to provide a specific date at the moment, likely will not consider resuming appointments for another 4-6 weeks.
Applicants who are looking at scheduling an appointment for your J1 visa, please hold on booking until a further update has been provided. For those who have their visa documentation, you should be able to complete your online DS-160 application but will not be able to continue past that point.
The US Consulates in Australia have currently suspended all visa appointments. They will contact you as soon as they are re-opening, to book a new appointment. They will have sent you an email to cancel your visa appointment.
The US Consulate will resume routine visa services as soon as possible and, while unable to provide a specific date at the moment, likely will not consider resuming appointments for another 4-6 weeks. The MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.
If your start date is before the 10th May, when the visa ban is until, we will be in contact with you about changing your date.
If your start date has changed for camp, we will get in contact with you about changing your DS2019 form, but your visa will be OK to stay the same.
If your exam dates have changed we may be able to push your camp dates back. It will be a case by case situation, where we will talk with your camp about possibly changing your start date. If you know your exams are going to affect your start date, get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your camp has closed or cancelled recently, we are working with people on an individual basis for your current situation. Please call the office to discuss your options on 1300 889 067.
Camps are still hiring for summer 2020.
The 2020 Camp America season is still opened. However, if you feel like you want to cancel due to the coronavirus COVID-19, please call to the office to case the current options. You can reach us on 1300 889 067.
Your medical insurance covers you if you contract the virus in the US. Camps are well structured for dealing with quarantine situations.
If you are booking your own flights, make sure that you include trip insurance, so that you are covered if you need to change your flights, or your flights are cancelled. Check with your airline if you have already booked.
If you can’t fly home due to coronavirus, there will be measures put into place to ensure you are safe and looked after.
We will be updating this page with any information regarding Coronavirus that may impact your camp placement as and when the situation changes, based on information from:
On March 11th, President Trump responded to the management of the virus, and has taken the steps to restrict travel from 26 countries in mainland Europe, to the United States for the 30 days from Friday, 13th March.
Inbound travel to the United States from Australia remains unaffected at this point, provided you have not travelled in China, Iran, South Korea or the mainland Europe in the last 14 days. (Please see the full list of countries below).
We welcome this move as we hope that (similar to responses from other countries)social distancing and other measures will help curtail the spread of the virus.
With summer still a few months away, we will continue to work towards our May and June departures. Our participants' safety is always our number one priority and we are constantly reviewing our procedures and processes and know that camps will equally be putting stringent procedures in place to ensure their campers and staff stay well and camps remain operational.
Of course, this is a fluid situation and we will continue to update you should anything change towards the Camp America program for 2020.
We understand that there is increased uncertainty with the coronavirus COVID-19 and we are closely monitoring the situation, to ensure we are equipped to provide accurate information and communicate updates.
The safety of our participants is our highest priority. The outlook relating to COVID-19 can change rapidly and we will continue to update this page with relevant information.
Camp America is vigilant in monitoring updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the U.S. State Department. We also consult with a third-party travel specialist and monitor advice from the Australian government including travel alerts. As media reporting varies greatly, the aforementioned sources are the most accurate source of information. Currently, the only inbound USA travel restrictions is for foreign visitors who have traveled to China and Iran within the last 14 days. It is recommended those who have traveled to China, Italy, Iran and South Korea should self isolate and monitor their health for 14 days upon return from these countries.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and advise you if there are changes that may impact your participation on the Camp America program.
Our medical insurance will cover you if you contract COVID-19 while in the US.
We will let participants know directly if there are any changes to the Camp America program for 2020.