Testimonials and Stories Needed: J-1 Cultural Exchange Participants and America's Camps

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ACA continues to closely monitor developments in Washington with the J-1 Cultural Exchange programs for camp counselors and support staff. These programs are vital to America’s camps and we are determined to defend against any threat to them. ACA leadership and ACA’s Government Affairs team have conducted many important meetings and discussions on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and in the offices of many government agencies to educate our nation’s leaders about the critical importance of international cultural exchange to America’s camps. One important way we can convey that critical importance and the positive impact of these programs on American and international campers, counselors, and support staff is by sharing moving stories of how cultural exchange positively impacts everyone involved.

ACA is asking for your help to highlight the importance of the J-1 Cultural Exchange programs (Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel programs) by sharing your personal impact stories. The stories can be in writing or through audio or video formats. They can consist of interviews with those that came to your camp as exchange participants, or with campers or American staff members that were positively impacted.

Please share your stories with with ACA by submitting them directly to ACA at: publicpolicy@ACAcamps.org.

We will then gather the stories together and submit them to the US Department of State, where they will be shared throughout the government in support of these vital programs. You can visit the State Department’s #RouteJ1 page to see how they showcase various J-1 stories, but please be sure to submit your stories directly to ACA so that we can gather them together and share them for maximum impact.

J-1 Cultural Exchange stories can come from camp directors, as well as J-1 Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel exchange participants, American staff, camp families, and your campers. Please do all that you can to gather written, audio, and video stories so that we can truly describe how essential these Cultural Exchange Programs are to so many camps across the country.

Some important guidelines:

When creating this content, please advise the members of your camp communities to use the terms “Cultural Exchange Participant” or “Camp Counselor” or “Exchange Visitor” to describe participants, rather than “worker,” “staff members,” or any other term that might make these programs seem like labor or employment programs rather than meaningful cultural exchange programs for all involved. You can use the term “camp counselor” to describe those exchange participants who were counselors, but all others such be called “exchange participants,” even if they held support roles in the kitchen or elsewhere in camp.


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