With much credit to Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961 created the J-1 visa and the camp counselor exchange visitor category. AIFS was just five years old when we acquired a small program called “Rural Britannia” in 1969. Changing the name to Camp America created one of the most strong and widely recognized brands in the summer camp industry.
Throughout the 1970s the program brought less than 2000 international staff annually to US summer camps to serve as general and specialist counselors. We expanded from the UK into Europe and Australia offering camps cultural diversity and a wide range of international role models. One of our earliest ads carried the slogan “Hire a Great Dane”.
The next decade brought huge strides in both volume and quality of participants as well as the number of host camps. Our client base grew from two hundred to nearly one thousand summer camps. Placements exceeded the 8,000 mark as we aggressively sought highly skilled applicants and introduced our Campower support staff program. Our first Camp Directors’ Fair in 1985 was a resounding success and instantly sparked a series of game-changing hallmark annual events.
By the end of the century our program eminently proved a leadership role in quality cultural exchange. As the iron curtain melted away new European countries opened their doors to exchange opportunities with Camp America at the clear vanguard. AIFS opened our Warsaw Office and Polish applicants became a staple and industrious resource. We were ready for the next thousand years!
With the new century came great strides in technological innovation as we moved to online application and matching engines. Instant access to placement status, logistics and financial information streamlined processes and improved efficiencies. Our recruitment fairs and market share flourished as Camp America lived up to its household name at home and abroad even as other programs left the marketplace.
We have the applicant pool to meet the industry’s staffing needs. Our global staff is experienced and dependable and our relationship with the summer camp community strong and vibrant. Our robust mechanisms of support for camps and participants alike ensure safe program participation. We embrace imminent regulatory reform secure in our standing with Exchange Visitor Program and in a leadership position in the critical realm of advocacy. Our program compliance and logistical infrastructure are on firm ground. We thank you for your partnership in this most unique form of cultural exchange.