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.
Have questions about Camp America? We've compiled all the FAQs about the camp experience. If you can’t find what you’re looking for please get in touch with our team.
Yes! The US Consulates in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are accepting visa appointments and issuing visas. Appointment timeslots are limited however we expect these to become more accessible.
Everyone that has travelled to the USA this year has received an exemption to travel from Home Affairs. It is still too early to say whether the Australian border restrictions will stay in place until 2022 however, we are confident the Camp America program will go ahead even if restrictions stay in place. Once you receive a placement and have received your visa documents, we will provide some additional information to help you apply for an exemption to travel.
Yes! As a participant of a US J1 cultural exchange program, you will be eligible for an exemption to the current border restrictions. However, for 2022 and with the vaccine rollout expected to be completed, we are hopeful these restrictions will relax further. Currently, three American based airlines fly regularly from Australia to the West Coast of the US. Our travel partner, Flight Centre can help ensure you get the best value flights.
The Centre for Disease Control and the US Government are both recommending 10 days of self-isolation upon arrival in the USA from an international flight. At this stage, this is not mandated upon arrival in the USA but is expected once you reach your final destination. For many, this will be facilitated by camp as well as additional testing.
The Covid-19 Vaccine is not a requirement for international travel at this stage. However, current information suggests it will be required to travel on certain airlines. We recommend getting the vaccine as soon as you are able to. If you are not eligible and cannot get it in Australia before leaving, it is highly accessible in the USA, and we recommend discussing this with your camp. It is likely to become a requirement in the future, our recommendation is to take the vaccine once it is available to you. If you have concerns regarding this, please contact our office to discuss.
As Covid-19 is classified as a virus, under the Camp America medical insurance policy you will have coverage (up to the maximum benefit amount) for any medical treatment related to this illness including diagnostic testing if advised by a medical professional and medication.
This information is written as it appears in the Camp America handbook under insurance.
Yes, we are actively recruiting for Camp America in 2022. We have successfully helped a number of Camp America participants get to camp in 2021, with approval from both governments, and are looking forward to a bigger year, next year. With the vaccine and greater push for international travel to open further, the outlook for 2022 is looking very positive.
We understand this is a concern of many wanting to travel internationally. Flights to and from the USA are running regularly without cancellations and are scheduled to meet the arrival caps in Australia, thus reducing the possibility of you getting stuck. In addition to this, our support team in the USA and our partner, Flight Centre are very experienced and are ready to respond quickly in the worst case scenarios.
Despite border restrictions we have been able to get all applicants who wished to go to the US with Camp America to their camps for the summer. We are actively monitoring changes to restrictions. As an Australian citizen, you will always be welcome back home.
Until restrictions change, yes. We are hopeful that once the vaccine has been distributed and most of the community is protected, restrictions will start to be eased. Until that happens, you will need to quarantine when you arrive back home.
At this stage, to prevent infection, the US and Australian governments are requiring negative PCR COVID-19 tests within 72 hours of boarding your international flight. This does incur some additional fees to get tested in Australia and occasionally in the US. This may change if you have been vaccinated but it is unclear when and how restrictions will change.
We don’t have a ‘typical’ application. Every Applications is different so your application will be unique to you. It is very important you take the time to make your application ‘shine’. Be mindful of your spelling, grammar and the overall standard of your written English - If you write in text shorthand e.g. “i am gr8 at bsketball and luv 2 sk8”, then this doesn’t create the best first impression of you.
Go into detail when discussing your skills and experience. So, if you play football – do you play with your mates in the park or are you captain of your university team? Do you just about understand the rules, or do you have a coaching qualification from the Football Association? The less you tell us, the harder it is for us to assess your level of experience.
Tell us why you’ll make a great counsellor! We know that there are many things that you hope to take from the program i.e. personal development, cultural experience, new friends etc – but this application is about YOU. Why is it that you want to be a camp counsellor? How can you positively impact a camp environment? We want to see that you understand what our program is all about and that you’re willing to contribute, as well as receive.
We see so many applicants every year that under sell themselves, for example if you are a bronze medallion holder and a Surf Life Saver then you should be listing your 'Lifeguard – Other' Skill as Advanced Level. Don’t forget to give us details about your experience and achievements too.
Conversely, don’t over sell yourself, Camp Directors will test you and you don’t want to be the applicant that gets caught out!
Should you have any questions or you are unsure of what skill level to use we strongly recommend asking your interviewer, sending us an email, shoot us a message on Facebook, give us a call, we will be more than happy to help!
When filling in your online Application, you will be asked to select your skills from a list. We encourage you to select as many skills as possible. After selecting your skills you need to tell us about your experience and qualifications for each skill in as much detail as possible.
We are seeking applicants who have a skill/hobby/talent in a particular activity area; however, this is not a requirement of the program. On our Camp Life page you will find a list of over 150 skill areas that can be applied to various roles at camp. If you can teach children skills from a number of these areas, a camp might place you as an advanced skills specialist. Conversely, you could be placed as a general counsellor, yet it is important to note that there are limited positions available for general counsellors.
All first-time applicants are required to be interviewed by Camp America staff to ensure they meet the program requirements and are a good match for working at a summer camp.
Yes you can! Camps look for a range of camp counsellors with varying skill levels, so it may not be necessary for you to have a certificate in your skill area. We review each application and if we think that you would benefit from getting qualified we’ll give you a call or drop you an email to discuss this with you. Never underestimate the practical experience that you have. Yet, if you are interested in upskilling and seeking to get any qualifications or certificates in relation to your skills, it could improve your chances at being offered a place at camp.
Our interviewers each have a limited number of applicants that they can interview at any one time. Sometimes they reach this limit, especially around the beginning and end of the seasons when we have a lot of new incoming applications. Please contact the office if you have any trouble connecting with an interviewer.
Your interviewer will verify your application and will ask you a few questions about your skills, experience, and reasons why you want to participate in the program.
In order to book in an interview, you need to complete your online application and make your first payment of $199.
We have a huge network of awesome interviewers all around Australia, they can be found in most capital cities and regional areas as well. When you are ready for an interview, you can select your own interviewer from a list of local interviewers provided on your application page.
Generally, our interviewers are young people who have participated in the program and their responsibility is to assess that anyone applying to Camp America possesses the skills, experience, maturity and ability to participate. Interviewers generally conduct interviews in their own time with the majority of interviews taking place in the interviewer's local area - at a coffee shop, restaurant or public meeting place i.e. a library.
Camp Directors will only hire international staff to fill the role of camp counsellor if the applicant can commit to a minimum of 9 weeks, depending on the individual camp’s schedule. Your schedule should be free to meet this requirement.
Most Australian University schedules do not fully coincide with the time needed for working at a US summer camp. The commitment to work at a Summer Camp will not fit into the Mid-Semester break for University. The latest departure date we can accept is the 25th of June. Camp America cannot offer placements after this date. By late June, most camps are halfway through their summer sessions. As a result they would prefer to welcome and train their staff as early in the summer as possible.
Unfortunately not, it is a visa regulation set forth by the United States government that you are 18 by June 1st, but you can still apply next season!
Summer camps in the United States start between May 1st and June 25th and run through mid-to-late August. Each of the 50 U.S. states has a different schedule for their school year. So, some states will start their summer break in May, and some will do so in June. Hence, the specific start and end dates of a camp depend entirely on individual programs. You will be made aware of your camp’s unique start and end dates once a placement has been offered.
The Camp America placement season begins in September for the following year and runs through mid-to-late June. Finding the right camp does take some time. You could be placed after your first interview with a Camp Director, or it could take a couple of months and a few more interviews. This is a normal part of the placement process.
Camps select counsellors based on skills so the chances of a camp needing both you and your friend’s skills are slim. Each season we do place friends or partners together, but these tend to be older and highly skilled applicants. A few things to remember if you wish to do Camp America with a friend…
So, we recommend applying with your friends and working on your post camp travel plans. You will have both made new friends which will make for an amazing post camp travelexperience.
Whilst we can't guarantee a position as the nature of the hiring process is dependent on camp directors, we offer place the most applicants worldwide, offering a very high chance of placement. Camp America works with over 1,000 camps so there are plenty of positions to go around.
When you apply, we’ll always give you advice on how to make your Application the best it can be; if you put in the effort and take our advice your chances will be high. Don’t forget that having longer availability and being open to more camp types, will increase the number of camps able to view your profile.
Camp America works with great camps and takes many factors into consideration when matching you with a camp. Our first priority is to ensure that it meets your pre-selected camp preferences. If you are unsure about the placement offer, please contact the office immediately to discuss options.
As per the Camp America program Terms and Conditions, if you reject a placement without discussing it with the office, and then do not receive another placement offer before the end of the placement season in mid-June, we will not be able to offer a refund of the fees paid.
Camp Directors and their staff will be interviewing applicants starting in October 2019. They will be offering placement opportunities for camp counsellors at their camp until mid-June 2020.
Camp Directors begin to select camp counsellors in August for interviews and finish hiring in mid-June. While we try to place you with a camp as soon as possible, placement times depend on which positions camp directors are hiring for at specific times of the year. Some camp directors also wait until closer to the start of the season to hire their camp counsellors, when they know how many kids will be attending the camp. It can take some time to find you the perfect placement, sometimes it is simply a waiting game!
First and foremost, the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. US laws are quite strict about this and if you are caught underage drinking you could face legal retributions. If you are of legal drinking and smoking age, each camp will have its own rules and policies regarding these matters. For the most part, you will not be allowed to smoke on camp property. Please keep in mind that if you break any camp rules, you may be fired.
Generally, a camp director will hire you based on your skills and the position they are looking to fill. However, if you do your research and find a camp you really want to go to, we can push your application to that camp. There are no guarantees they will have a place for you, but we always try!
Participants are expected to complete a placement of 9 - 12 weeks. Whilst on a camp, participants are accountable to the Camp Director. It should be noted that camps in the US often have very strict rules and regulations regarding areas such as curfews, alcohol, smoking and behaviour towards campers and staff. Participants should expect to be asked to leave camp if they break camp rules. Being fired is not a pleasant experience and to minimise the disruption on camp it should be understood that following a firing, participants may be asked to leave camp immediately without saying goodbye. Camp America will offer support and work with the participant regarding the individual situation, which could include a re-match with a new camp or beginning the 30-day travel grace period early.
Since we work with so many camps, they are all very different in terms of accommodation, food etc. While everyone tends to have the same kind of “Camp America experience” in the end (you are all going to traditional summer camps after all) these details will differ. You could be in a tent or an apartment, have doughnuts for breakfast or have nutritional meals.
These details will be made available to you by your camp once you receive a placement or you can ask your Camp Director.
The position that you have at camp will depend on the skills and experience you have. Are you a basketball coach at home? It’s likely you’ll get a basketball position. Are you a Lifeguard at your local pool? You’ll probably get to work at the camp lake or pool all summer long!
As a counsellor, your main job is to look after the campers' general well-being and ensure that the kids get to enjoy all their camp activities safely, whilst having a good time! It's likely that you'll end up taking part in many of the activities as well - so while you don't need to be an expert, a flexible 'can-do' attitude is essential. On a typical day at camp, you could find yourself skipping from tennis to archery, to pottery, to finding yourself jumping off a boat into a lake; cheered on by your campers! Visit our Camp Life page to see more of what your camp experience could look like.
Camp America works with close to 1,000 different summer camps in the USA and they’re located all over the country. We don’t have a comprehensive list of camps but if a camp hires international staff, chances are, we do work with them.
Yes. As a cultural exchange visa sponsor, Camp America provides medical insurance for your time at camp, as well as for the 30-day travel grace period in the US before your camp commences and at the completion of your camp placement. Provision of medical insurance is required as a visa sponsor and therefore is mandatory for participants to take the Camp America medical insurance (unless they have a policy that has been reviewed and approved to meet the program requirements). You also have the option to upgrade your medical insurance policy to include baggage insurance. You can do so through your MyCampAmerica application site.
If you wish to purchase your own insurance please note that it must meet regulations set by the US Government. The US Government is in the process of changing the requirements regarding the level of cover required for each participant on a cultural exchange program. Before you purchase a policy please email us the Product Disclosure Statement so we can ensure it meets the minimum level of coverage.
You can find the new requirements by clicking here. Alternately you can visit the following link: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=1bc531bf257789e45b3049bff8b50d64&r=PART&n=22y18.104.22.168.35#se22.1.62_114
Two of the key changes are:
If you plan to travel after your 30 day travel period you will need to extend your insurance. You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.
Optional Baggage Insurance can be provided at an additional fee. It offers provisions for personal property and flights. Visit the insurance tab on your MyCampAmerica application site to add the upgrade to your profile.
It should be noted that the medical insurance does not cover pre-existing medical conditions unless they have been pre-approved by the Camp America Medical Coordinator to add pre-existing medical condition coverage. If we cannot provide medical insurance for an applicant due to a specific pre-existing condition, they will be required to obtain their own personal cover for this. This policy will need to be reviewed and approved to meet specific requirements of the program and visa.
No, as a cultural exchange visa sponsor, Camp America is unable to print your visa papers until you have a confirmed placement.
The cultural exchange visa does not extend as a green card or work permit. You may only work at a summer camp in the position of camp counsellor during the period allocated on your visa.
The ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is required to travel to the USA if you DO NOT have a visa. As a participant on a cultural exchange visa program, you will have a visa and do not need an ESTA.
As your cultural exchange visa sponsor, designated by the US Department of State, Camp America will provide placed applicants with the necessary DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility) which is required to apply for the cultural exchange visa. The DS-2019 forms will be printed in our US office starting in November. They will then be posted to our office here in Sydney. We will then post them to the applicant's mailing address.
From December onward the DS-2019 forms will be provided to participants approximately 3 weeks after a placement is officially confirmed. Additional forms are supplied via the Camp America Australian Office. We will also provide all applicants with detailed, step-by-step instructions via email to guide applicant's through the entire visa application. The applicant will then be required to attend an in-person interview at their nearest US Consulate (Melbourne, Sydney or Perth).
You are granted a 30-day travel grace period before the program start date to enter the United States. Additionally, upon completion of your summer camp exchange program, you have a grace period of 30 days to travel within the country and then depart the United States.
Most consulates will take 2-3 business days to process your application and another 2-3 business days to return your passport. However, it can take up to 2 weeks until you get your passport back.
Please make sure to speak with your Camp Director before applying in order to confirm that they have a role for you this upcoming summer. Once you have confirmation, log back into the MyCampAmerica application site, update your details and submit your application.
Yes, Camp America requires a new Australian Federal Police Certificate for every season you are participating in the program. The certificate should be dated from August (of the year before going back to camp) onward. It must be mailed to the Camp America office in Sydney (PO Box 1319, Darlinghurst, NSW 1300). For details on how to apply for an Australian Federal Police check click here.
If you are returning to the same camp, you will pay a discounted application fee. As you don't need to conduct a new interview we can get you to camp for less. Receive all the same benefits and get the opportunity to experience another summer at camp. Our discounted returner payment is currently $669 - check out the pricing page for more details and look for the returner tab up the top for a full breakdown.
As long as you can obtain a positive recommendation from your previous Camp Director, we would be happy to assist you with going to a new camp. Please note, you will be required to attend another face-to-face interview with a Camp America Representative, and to complete a full application (this includes, photos, references, AFP check and Medical Form).
Due to changes we have observed with the US Department of State, you will more than likely need to attend another in-person appointment at your nearest US Consulate or Embassy in order to obtain a cultural exchange visa.
We do not recommend using the mail-in option as many returning applicants have been called in for face-to-face interviews or had issues obtaining their visa.
Once you have completed enough of the online application you will be required to click on the "Submit to Office" button. Your application will not move on to the next stage without completing this step.
Unfortunately, we are unable to refund any third-party payments such as any police check, medical form or visa fees. Please also note that Camp America does not cover certain charges and travel costs that participants may incur.
All payments are non-refundable if the cancellation is made by the applicant after a successful interview. Camp America charges a fee both to the applicant and to the camps. Fees are charged to cover the costs of running a fully-supportive program which includes the provision of medical insurance, staffing, orientations and the work incurred in searching for and securing a placement at a summer camp.
If cancellation is a result of a bona fide medical reason, that is backed-up with an official confirmation from your treating Physician, the situation will be reviewed in the office for a potential refund.
If a placement is not found by the end of the placement season (mid-June), a full refund of the payments made to Camp America will be issued.