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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Date: 13/03/20

Note: this update applies only to programs which utilize the American J1 Visa, including the Camp Leaders program.

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.

Smaller Earth and Camp Leaders 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 the Camp Leaders 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 the team with coronavirus related queries to ensure that they have the latest information available for your travel.

Date: 12/03/20

On March 11th President Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.

This proclamation is expected to last 30 days and applies to the countries located in the Schengen area.

At Camp Leaders we will continue to work towards our May and June departures and expect there to be limited to no impact on travel to camp.

If you have a departure date that falls before the 11th April 2020 our team will be directly in touch with you.

If you are not due to travel in the near future we recommend that you wait before contacting us with coronavirus related queries to ensure we have the latest information available for your travel.


Date: 09/03/20

Smaller Earth 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 WHO, CDC, Foreign Office and Public Health England advisories as well as updates from our global teams and partners. At this time based on the guidelines and information from the sources outlined above, our programmes will be going ahead as planned for 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.

Updated: 12/03/20

Can I still apply for a Smaller Earth programme?

Yes, applications are still open for Smaller Earth programmes this year.

Can I withdraw from my programme now because of the Coronavirus?

As our programmes are going ahead as planned, the standard terms and conditions of the participant program agreement apply, including any eligibility for a refund.

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.

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.

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 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 booking visa appointments, submitting all necessary paperwork, and completing your profile.

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