Pre-Departure Checklist

Before you leave for the U.S., you must do the following:

GET YOUR VISA

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To apply for your J-1 Camp Counselor visa, you must make a visa appointment at your local U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. The procedure for booking J-1 visa appointments varies by country; for assistance with this process, please contact your international representative. It is extremely important that you stay in contact with your representative throughout the visa application process.

Please note: If you don’t receive your visa, you won’t be able to travel.

BOOK YOUR TRAVEL

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Once your J-1 Camp Counselor visa has been approved by the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate, you can book your international travel. Your visa is valid starting one day prior to your camp arrival date and remains valid through your 30-day grace period, which begins after your camp contract end date.

If you are going to Meet & Greet

Make sure your international flight arrives one day prior to your camp arrival date at the designated Meet & Greet city; this will be either Boston or New York.

CIEE will send you instructions on how to get from the airport to the Meet & Greet location. We will also arrange for one night of accommodation and transportation for your onward travel to camp the following day.

If you are not going to Meet & Greet (including repeat and self-placed participants)

Book your international flight to arrive on the date and at the airport your camp has designated. For any changes or additional travel information, reach out to your camp directly.

Please note: All Camp Exchange USA participants must upload or submit their travel itineraries to their international representatives or to CIEE directly at campteam@ciee.org. If your itinerary changes for any reason, you are required to inform CIEE and your international representative of these changes as soon as they occur.

Return Travel

Your J-1 Camp Counselor visa includes a grace period that allows you to travel within the United States for up to 30 days after your camp contract ends. However, university students are expected to depart the U.S. before their next term begins; for that reason, some CIEE Camp Exchange USA participants may have less than 30 days to travel. This depends on when your camp contract ends and when your school term begins.

Please note: Do not overstay your visa! This will result in the accrual of unlawful presence and will negatively impact any future U.S. visa applications.

VISIT YOUR DOCTOR AND DENTIST

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Before you leave for the U.S., CIEE or your camp will send you a medical health form. This form must be completed and signed by your physician and brought with you to camp. Failure to do so may result in either dismissal from your camp or costly out-of-pocket doctor visits in the U.S.

Immunizations

Certain immunizations are required due to increased health risks in the United States. These include MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and a current TB (tuberculosis) test. We strongly recommend that you ask your camp for their specific immunization requirements and complete these prior to your departure. Immunizations, x-rays, and other procedures are costly in the U.S. and your CIEE insurance will not cover them. For more information about CIEE insurance, including a summary of benefits and exclusions, please visit www.ciee.org/insurance.

Please note: You may not be able to start your employment at camp if you do not provide the required proof of immunization.

Prescriptions

If you take prescription medication, you should bring a supply from home that will last for your entire stay in the U.S. You should also have a note from your doctor that explains what medications you take and why you need them. You will be required to keep these medications at the camp health center or infirmary for the duration of your program, as these are typically not allowed in your cabin.

Dental

CIEE strongly recommends visiting a dentist prior to arriving in the U.S. Your CIEE dental plan offers limited coverage and excludes cavities, fillings, crowns, and bridges. For more information about CIEE insurance, including a summary of benefits and exclusions, please visit www.ciee.org/insurance.

BRING ENOUGH SPENDING MONEY

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When you enter the U.S., you are required to show proof of funds (at least US$400) at U.S. Customs. Only cash, bank statements, and traveler’s checks are accepted as proof of funds. CIEE recommends that you bring more money, if possible, in case of emergencies. Make sure that you have enough money to cover all the expenses you will have before you receive your first paycheck from your camp.

ATTEND CIEE ORIENTATION

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Before you travel to the U.S. to start your summer at camp, you must complete a CIEE Camp Exchange USA orientation. This in-person session, led by your international representative, will take place in your home country and will give you the opportunity to learn about program rules and regulations. You will also get advice on how to have a successful summer at camp.

Orientation also allows you to meet other program participants, some of whom may travel with you or even work with you at the same camp. This is your chance to get a glimpse of what camp life is like, meet others who have done the program before, and have all your questions answered before you travel.

If you have not received a camp placement yet, attending orientation will give you tips on improving your chances of finding a placement.  

LEARN YOUR CAMP’S RULES

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Every summer camp is designed to be a safe and healthy environment for youth. Camps have strict policies against smoking, drinking alcohol, illegal drug use, use of foul language, and other inappropriate behavior. These policies are in place both before and after campers arrive. You may find some of these policies hard to adapt to, but you must follow them. Otherwise you may be asked to leave camp.

Since these policies are so important, it is vital to read and understand them before you travel to the U.S.