American Summers realizes that we are running a program that is taking your loved one thousands of miles away from you and placing them in an unfamiliar environment.
Everyone who works at American Summers and IENA has worked at camp, and some of us have even participated in similar programs from the UK and abroad. We understand the concerns and questions that loved ones have about this program. The following is a brief list of FAQ’s for parents. If you have ANY concerns that are not addressed, please feel free to contact our office.
How Does the Application Work?
Applicants complete an online questionnaire and upload references, photographs, certificates, passport, proof of student status (for support staff) and a police background check. We then use this to create a profile. A £50 proof of intent is due prior to scheduling the program interview. After the interview, we will decide if the applicant is a suitable candidate for the program.
If the applicant is suitable for the program, the profile and interview report is sent to the reputable camps we work with and made available for browsing by camps on our online system.
Acceptance onto the program is not a guarantee of placement.
What paperwork is involved?
Once accepted by American Summers, the applicant must submit certain documents. All paperwork is required by the US Department of State for all persons applying for the J-1 visa, which is required for participation on the summer camp program.
The following paperwork is required:
- Copy of passport photo page
- 2 References (from employers, educators, pastors/rabbis, etc. NOT from friends or family)
- Police background check
- Medical form
- Proof of Student Status Form (required for support staff applicants only)
Once the appropriate fees have been paid, we will process the documents and distribute the documentation necessary so the applicant can apply for their J-1 Visa.
Attending the Embassy
Applicants are required to attend an in-person interview at the US Embassy. The interview will take a few hours and requires the applicant to submit their passport to the embassy for up to 14 days in order for the visa to be issued.
American Summers provides full instructions and support for Embassy appointments.
A Summer at Camp
Placement at camp can occur anytime between being accepted onto the program and the end of June. Once we have placed an applicant at camp we will arrange contact with the camp so that transportation arrangements can be made. We help all participants with this.
Camps will either pick their staff up at the airport or give us detailed instructions for domestic ground travel. Prior to departure, applicants should be aware of how they are getting to camp and should contact American Summers if they are unsure. We highly recommend all applicants have the contact details for their camp available, in the event they have questions once they arrive and require assistance. Do not expect a phone call or an e mail immediately after a staff member arrives at camp. Camps can be rural with limited phone and internet access.
All American Summers participants earn a salary while at camp. The minimum amount ($2,000) is determined by IENA, the visa sponsor. However, some camps may choose to pay more. This is paid by the camp directly, as participants are employed by the camp, not American Summers.
At the end of camp, participants have a period of time in which they are allowed to travel in the US as a tourist. Many participants use this time to visit friends or travel throughout America. It is the participant’s responsibility to plan their travel home.
Are there any costs outside IENA's program fees?
Yes. Participants are required to pay for their flight. In addition, the US Embassy also charges a fee for the in-person interview (approximately $160 USD) and a police background check typically costs $45 to $60.
How much money should my son/daughter budget for camp?
As much as they can afford. We recommend that applicants take at least $300 in cash to begin with, whilst making sure they have access to additional funds. If they don’t have a bank card that will work abroad, take traveler’s cheques. We suggest access to at least $600 total.
Does American Summers provide medical insurance for my son/daughter while in the US?
Yes! American Summers participants receive insurance via their program from the moment they set foot on American soil until the moment they leave (up to a max of 4 months). Any extension, beyond that of the maximum of 4 months, will be charged at $100 per month. Their insurance covers most medical care within the USA and up to $500,000 of treatment. If you wish to purchase more coverage, you may also purchase your own additional policy for your young adult. It is also possible to purchase travel insurance as an upgrade to the medical insurance provided by IENA, the visa sponsor, for an extra fee. Please note, the dates of coverage will automatically default to the work dates on an applicant’s camp contract. If an applicant is traveling before or after camp in the US, they will need to login to their account and manually extend their insurance coverage dates. The insurance provided for American Summers applicants sponsored by IENA does not cover pre-existing conditions, or applicants aged 65 or older. If your participant falls into either of these categories, please contact American Summers.
What if my son/daughter has a problem at camp?
If your son/daughter contacts you about problems at camp, please ask them to talk to their camp supervisor, as they are in the best position to provide assistance. If there is no resolution after speaking to their supervisor, please ask them to call our US Office on 1-888-724-4292 for assistance. We also have an emergency 24 hr support line for applicants and camps.
If my son/daughter has a family emergency and needs to return home immediately, what should they do?
They should call our US Office immediately for assistance on 1-888-724-4292
If my son/daughter chooses to leave camp before the end of their contract, or is asked to leave by their camp, what happens now?
They should call our US Office immediately on 1-888-724-4292 to explain the situation. They will be responsible for any flight change fees and will be liable for any fees that would otherwise be paid by their camp to IENA. Please refer to the Program Agreement for more detail.