Information for travellers: Coronavirus - COVID-19

Following Government advice relating to the COVID-19 situation, our office is currently closed for a short period.

We are still working and here to support our travellers and wider community. Please use the email addresses below to get in touch with the right team (please use only one of these contacts per enquiry).

General travel support enquiries, e.g. fundraising, payments, medical information, access to the Traveller Gateway: operations@campsinternational.co.uk

Suppliers: accounts@campsinternational.co.uk

Any other enquiries: enquiries@campsinternational.co.uk

 

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 7th July 2020

Maintaining our commitment to our communities, volunteers and staff

2020 has not been the year (so far) anyone expected, it has been challenging for us all. But, throughout these months of struggle and hardship has come an overwhelming sense of community, pride, and the longing to make a permanent change to improve the world we live in.

For some of our teams, they have been able to put this into practice even during the height of Covid-19, with food deliveries to the most vulnerable in Kenya, clothing and hand sanitiser deliveries in Ecuador and even working to keep our beaches clean from the newfound waste that is making its way into our seas in Borneo.

We are now looking to expand on this as restrictions begin to ease, we’ve mapped out a new plan for our projects over the next few months, which will see all of our Camps crew – leaders, office staff, cooks, drivers, housekeeping and security guards – rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into projects. Our budgets for this are depleted, but thanks to our team’s amazing loyalty and salary sacrifices we now have an emergency fund to get us started.

#CampsEffect

Our culture is guided by a principle we call the Camps Effect.  It describes the positive impact we commit to delivering to our clients and our planet.

If you are one of our clients, we will continue to work hard until you have either received the original experience you committed to, a viable alternative arrangement or, a refund.  For the planet, our work is now beginning to make sure that we continue to create a positive impact despite Covid-19 and zero travellers.

We have protected the jobs and pay of our camp staff around the globe and whilst (for the next few months at least) our projects will no longer benefit from the thousands of volunteer days that would have taken place this year, we are absolutely committed to maintaining our support to our partner communities – through our project objectives and the job security that Camps provides.

The economic and social impact of Covid-19 has hit the developing countries we work in most severely, but though these communities are cut off from the benefits of tourism for the time-being, we are committed to ensuring that no-one gets left behind.

camp-borneo-team

We are absolutely committed to maintaining our support to our partner communities – through our project objectives and the job security that Camps provides.

Putting the #CampsEffect into action

We have a global team of incredible, passionate local staff who are permanently based in our expedition locations. They’ve been working hard behind-the-scenes to re-define our project plans for this year, prioritising our most vital work and reallocating our staff to pick up where our volunteers cannot.

These are our plans for the next few months.

In Latin America we are helping communities build important infrastructure

In Costa Rica, we are currently constructing a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Centre – a vital facility to support the most vulnerable members of the community at Camp Terraba. This project was started by our volunteer teams in 2019 and this year our Camp Costa Rica team plan to pitch in to take on the next phase of construction, building the walls of the centre.

Over in Camp Moray, Peru, the community have been using makeshift market stalls throughout this pandemic to exchange agricultural products and basic necessities. With the help of our local crew at Camp Peru, we’ll be constructing safer and more substantial market areas to support them.

Our long-term project at Camp Kuri Kucho, Ecuador, is constructing greenhouses for the community to grow their own food. We currently have a greenhouse that is 25% complete, so our Camp Ecuador team will be joining forces to get this finished for local families to benefit from as soon as possible.

We’re continuing our most vital community work in Asia

Anyone who has joined us on expedition in Cambodia will know just how impactful our water projects are within these rural communities. Our Camp Cambodia team will be continuing this important work: in Camp Beng Pae we’re planning to build a village well and work on the village dam conservation, whilst in Camp Beng Mealea we’ll be making water storage pots for local families and maintaining the gravity water pipe. We’ll also be helping to support locals with rice planting to ensure a sustainable food supply for the region.

In Borneo, we are currently working on some large-scale community facilities in three of our camps: Camp Batu Puteh, Camp Tinangol and Camp Bongkud. Here our local staff plan to continue the fantastic work of our volunteer teams in previous years and will be installing roofing, plastering and cementing towork towards finishing the construction of new youth and community centres.

africa-farming-2

We’re working from the ground up in Africa to create long-term support for communities

Our Camp Kenya crew have developed an exciting new project that will provide sustainable, long-term employment to the local community near Camp Muhaka. Our team will be putting the groundwork in to develop a permaculture farm with an education centre, providing substantial harvest for locals in the medium-term and reducing deforestation in the area through educating the community on sustainable livelihoods. We are very excited to get started on this project and look forward to welcoming our Kenya expedition teams next year to continue the work on our long-term goals.

Due to current travel restrictions in the region, we’re yet to develop any further projects within our Africa camps, but we’re working closely with our teams on the ground to provide localised support where we can.

Stay up to date with our Camps’ Diaries on social media

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you live updates from our teams on the ground, keeping you up to date with our progress on these projects.

Make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see the latest updates, meet some of our local crew and find out what’s going on in Camps.

 

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 5th June 2020

A letter from our CEO

It has been four months since we started to come to terms with the impact of the pandemic and it has been all-consuming for our team and created massive disruption for you, our clients.

We are a social enterprise that for over 18 years has worked to keep in balance our commercial and philanthropic objectives.  We have had to accept that, for the first time since we started, this objective will at times be compromised as we are constantly forced to run our operation in ways we would never ordinarily choose to.  I hope this letter will go some way to acknowledge the impact this may have had on you.

Restructuring travel plans for 2020 has been a tough balancing act as we try to protect our travellers and our team.  We have had our challenges over the years, but nothing compares to what we have faced recently. We are confronted with complicated decisions that affect our travellers, staff and project partners where no perfect options exist, and it has tested us.  In particular, communicating the complexity of issues that influence the options available to us has been very difficult and at times we have had to stick to the headlines only, which has been frustrating both for us and for you.  For each course of action taken, our priority has been to deliver the extraordinary experiences our travellers deserve, and where this has not been possible, do everything we can to ensure you are not impacted financially.

I offer my sincere apologies if you feel let down by us in any way throughout this process. There have been many times we would have liked to communicate information earlier and in more detail. Our ability to financially and physically protect thousands of clients, hundreds of staff and our overseas project partners has been down to our ability to adapt quickly to the unpredictable situation, changes in government legislation, travel and health advice and insurance factors. If this has been perceived as indecision, please be assured that we have done everything we can with your best interests at heart.

By definition Camps is a profit-making social enterprise but I can assure you that at no stage has profit remotely influenced our decisions this year.  Any funds we have retained have been in relation to services we have already delivered or costs we cannot recover.

An expedition is unlike many mainstream travel experiences where most of the cost is incurred at the point you depart.  The preparation takes many months and requires enormous up-front investment in staff costs, equipment, infrastructure, safety and logistical preparation, school support and of course everything needed to deliver sustainable, large-scale projects in developing countries.  Insurance premiums and flights must be paid for in advance.

Much of this cannot be recovered in the event we are required to cancel, and it is with this in mind that we have been asking you to defer travel.  In some cases, schools have opted to cancel as a result of the impact that the pandemic has had on their own staff and operations and claim the unrecoverable costs through their insurance.  Both options come with a degree of disruption but ensure that either trips run, or funds are reimbursed.  I want to thank all our school partners for working with us to select the best course of action on a case by case basis.

Like many companies we are having to restructure working weeks, accept pay cuts and with great regret, we have lost some of our team.  We are working hard to protect the lowest paid members of our crew from any reductions in pay.  We have committed and loyal people working at Camps and for the past few months I have asked a great deal from them.  Thank you again for your understanding when dealing with our team.

This summer our projects will no longer benefit from the thousands of volunteer days that would have created a massive impact to the host communities and environments we have committed to.  I will be honest, our resources for maintaining project work are now severely depleted.  We are exploring all options to maintain some level of support at community level for 2020 and this will probably involve our local staff picking up where our volunteers can’t but on a much smaller scale.  Again, by deferring travel or choosing to re-book with us once you are fully reimbursed, your involvement will be more meaningful than ever.

As a result of the choices we have made and the support you have shown us, we can now operate for another year without travellers if we must and we will be ready and able to deliver our trips as soon as the situation allows.  If you are booked to travel with us later in the year or next, please feel reassured that we are in a financially secure position to allow you to continue confidently as planned.

On behalf of my team I want to thank you once again for your patience and understanding.

Yours

Stuart

 


Statement as of: 12:00, 11th May 2020

To our Camps community,

We would like to extend our deep thanks and gratitude to each and every one of you. The global crisis created by the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it huge challenges for industries, businesses and day to day life around the world. The travel industry is no exception, but we have been heartened by the remarkable support and understanding from our Camps community, which has allowed our team to focus on the critical task of securing an outcome for all our upcoming expeditions.

2020 Summer School Expeditions

We are pleased to report we have spoken to all schools due to travel this summer and we now have confirmed decisions for 100% of our travellers.

Schools have already been in contact with the majority of families and will be notifying remaining families imminently.

Based on the decision from your school, you may be waiting on some further correspondence from us. Rest assured, we are working to get to everyone as soon as we can. Due to the volume of affected clients, it is taking us a little longer than usual and your ongoing patience is greatly appreciated.

If you have an urgent query or concern, please email us here.

Independent Volunteering Expeditions

We are continuing to communicate directly with all independent travellers booked onto our volunteering programmes, still focusing on those due to travel in May, June and July.

As always, if you are facing urgent decisions regarding flights, then please email us here and we will prioritise you.

The Camps Effect

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on every single one of us, but for our partner communities in developing countries, the social and economic impact is hugely magnified. Please rest assured we are continuing to support our local crew and we remain committed to our wide range of projects and the people, wildlife and environments that they positively impact. Our regional teams throughout Latin America, East Africa and South East Asia are currently exploring ways in which we can continue working towards our project goals this year.

Please keep an eye on our social media channels for updates on this and all other news from the global Camps team.

In the meantime, please stay safe and we look forward to the more positive and adventurous times that lay ahead.

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 29th April 2020

To our Camps community,

Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding during this time. We are now very close to securing an outcome for all our upcoming expeditions and wanted to give you a brief update to let you know the current situation.

2020 Summer School Expeditions

Over the past few weeks, we have been working through detailed conversations with schools, organising and making amendments to all summer 2020 expeditions. This is a complex process involving hundreds of schools and thousands of students and we have been working closely with school leadership teams to reach decisions as soon as possible.

We are pleased to report we have made excellent progress and now have confirmed decisions for over 80% of our 2020 travellers. Schools have already been in contact with the majority of families and will be notifying remaining families imminently. If you are yet to receive confirmation, please rest assured your schools are the ones we are focusing on as a priority.

We appreciate the wait is frustrating, however this process is essential in order to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone. We thank you for your ongoing support and we ask you to please remain patient for a short while longer.

Independent Travellers & Gap Year Expeditions: 

We are continuing to communicate directly with all independent travellers booked onto our volunteering programmes, currently focusing on those due to travel in May, June and July.

As always, if you are facing urgent decisions regarding flights, then please email us here and we will prioritise you.

Once again, thank for all your support and patience throughout these challenging times. We extend all our best wishes to you and your families, from our Camps team around the world.

 


Statement as of: 18:00, 20th April 2020

Update for Summer 2020 School and Independent Volunteering Expeditions

To our Camps Community,

Another week has passed since our last message and we hope you all remain safe and well.

2020 Summer School Expeditions:

Conversations with our 2020 travelling UK schools continue every day and we have now received an initial response from all but a handful, each of whom are doing their best to balance the travel options with the challenging educational responsibilities they shoulder. We’re pleased to report that each day we receive more and more confirmations and your school will be in touch with you once they have made their decision.  If you are yet to hear from your school, please rest assured that we are collaborating constantly to reach a solution for you urgently.  Our aim is to establish a way forward for all of our 2020 summer expeditions by the end of April.

Once we have a decision from your school, and they have been in touch with students and parents, we will follow up with a personal communication to each and every one of you.

Independent Travellers & Gap Year Expeditions:  

We are also communicating directly with all independent travellers booked onto our volunteering programmes. Our immediate focus has been for departures in April, May and June. If you are travelling later in the year and are yet to hear from us, please continue to sit tight as we are coming to you soon.  If you are facing urgent decisions regarding flights, then please email us here and we will prioritise you.

As always, thank you for your ongoing understanding and support. Our objectives remain to put safety first, mitigate financial exposure to everyone and ensure that all who wish to travel with Camps are given the opportunity to do so.

We look forward to speaking to you all soon.

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 10th April 2020

As we head into the Easter weekend we wanted to send our very best wishes to our Camps Community and, as always, we hope you are safe and well.

Our conversations with travelling schools are ongoing, but we are making excellent progress and our team has already supported a number of schools in reaching a decision in relation to their 2020 summer expedition. We are also communicating directly with all independent travellers booked onto our Independent Volunteering programmes.

If you are booked onto a school expedition and haven’t yet heard from your school, please be patient. We are working closely with all remaining schools who have yet to make decisions and it is our top priority to reach a solution for all travellers. Confirmation of these decisions will bring the clarity that we appreciate is urgently needed around final payments due in May and other preparations for your expedition such as vaccinations.

Once again, we would like to assure you that all of our solutions are safety focused, geared to mitigate any financial exposure to you and, where possible, to ensure that our young travellers retain the opportunity to travel with us.

The extraordinary understanding and support we have received from you is deeply appreciated by every member of our team. Once again, from all of the 170 Camps staff around the world, we send you our best and please stay safe.

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 3rd April 2020

Update for 2020 Summer Departures

We hope this update finds you safe and well as we all continue to navigate our way through these challenging times. The ongoing understanding and support displayed by our Camps Community has been remarkable and we thank you all for standing by us as we work to deliver the best possible solution for our travellers.

Since the comprehensive statement from our CEO last week, we have been able to confirm a shortlist of current, alternative scenarios in relation to your 2020 summer expedition. We are now in touch with your school and members of our UK team are working through the options available and helping to support each school in reaching a decision.

We appreciate and understand why some of you may feel frustrated by the pace of information or decision making. In real terms, we are making good progress given we have several months prior to travel and many of our key stakeholders are working to a much more immediate and imminent window. Our decision timelines are heavily dependent on schools, airlines and government bodies and we are all working through this as fast as is practically possible.

Please continue to sit tight and bear with us as we work to reach a resolution with each of your schools. We understand that many of you are not able to obtain your vaccinations currently and have some concerns regarding your final payments due in May. For now, all payments remain due as normal and if this changes we will tell you immediately. We suggest you hold off on any associated expenditure in relation to your expedition, such as equipment purchases, until we confirm plans with your school.

We also wish to reiterate that all of our solutions are safety focused, geared to mitigate any financial exposure to you and also ensure that our young travellers retain the opportunity to travel with us.

As always, your continued patience is greatly appreciated and will allow us to continue our planning with your school leadership in order that we can provide you with specific details as soon as possible.

In the meantime, from all of the 170 Camps staff around the world, we send you our best and please stay safe.

 


Statement as of: 16:00, 27th March 2020

An update from our CEO on Covid-19

I trust that as you read this, you and your family remain safe and are managing to steer through the challenging new environment we find ourselves in. I want to thank you for the patience you are showing us and your school, as we model the various scenarios that apply to our next departures in June, July and August, consistent with the constantly evolving government guidelines. I will outline here some of the developments that are likely to come into play in the near future and that have a fundamental influence on our options.

We have received some amazing support from many of you and equally we are taking note of some of the frustrations that exist as you await clarity from us as to how the 2020 summer expedition season may be affected. We pride ourselves on giving direct, clear communication to the Camps community and it is equally frustrating to us that we have to wait for important, and in some cases pivotal, legislative changes before we in turn can advise you. Please don’t interpret this as indecision or inaction. Our team is successfully managing to distil a shortlist of practical scenarios that we will begin to discuss with each school in order that they can contribute to key decisions.

Our core objective will always be safety and please rest assured that this is priority one in all our strategic planning. We are also focused on avoiding scenarios that impact schools and parents financially and appreciate this is another key area of concern. We will of course also continue to do all we can to ensure that students are able to engage with amazing outdoor learning experiences, albeit when safe to do so.

Hopefully by now you have been receiving our weekly updates and have a feel for the issues that influence our decisions and why it is so hard for us to issue definitive guidance 3-4 months prior to travel. As you will see from the decisions that affect all our lives, governments are typically issuing guidance with a forward window of 30 days and then playing catch up as they map out the detail to support individuals, education, the business community and their customers across all industries. For those of you that have already had to cancel personal and business travel arrangements, you will see that airlines are focused only on the next 72 hours and invariably a one-month horizon beyond that. Any decision to cancel now would in most cases be viewed as disinclination to travel, hence we urge everyone to watch and wait for the added flexibility that is filtering in.

The insurance industry is also facing unprecedented pressure and cancellations made as a result of Covid19 under most policies, including ours, is not classed as an insurable risk. With this in mind, if schools or individuals make early decisions to cancel, they will in turn expose themselves to financial loss as we would only be able to return the recoverable monies in line with our cancellation terms. For clarity, this is a scenario we want to avoid, and we believe that imminent changes from government will allow us to provide solutions that avoid this. To reiterate, we want our young travellers to get the experiences they have worked so hard for, safely and without financial loss, even if it means a delay.

I trust you will understand that I am cautious to outline specific solutions until I am confident they will apply, but I will share two key initiatives which we believe and hope will soon come into play. The first involves an anticipated amendment to travel related legislation enabling us to issue 100% credit notes for deferred travel in the event of a ‘live’ government travel advisory at point of departure. Our modelling for this scenario has already identified multiple reserve travel windows and a range of alternative itineraries, depending on the advisory detail. This is one example of a zero-cost option for travellers.

Another scenario dependent on government advice could provide schools with the scope to make decisions sooner, in regard to future travel, and access financial support that combined with us, increases our ability to protect all travellers financially. The terms of this are as yet unclear but it is an important development that we need to include in planning.

As it stands, we still hope that some or all departures will run as planned this summer, but our approach to this is by no means blasé and we are looking at every possible contingency on a trip by trip, month by month basis. What I can say with complete integrity is that safety is at the heart of any decision we make and there will be no attempt for us to profiteer from this crisis. Equally I hope you understand that I will also make decisions in the interests of protecting the jobs and welfare of the amazing people that work at Camps, all around the world, to ensure that we remain healthy and in a position to recover and deliver experiences to the thousands of young people who have booked with us. Not only for 2020 but also for 2021 onwards.

Finally, the written word is often a tough medium to communicate sentiment, but we have a team at Camps that care deeply for every traveller that joins our community and you are centre stage in all our discussions, strategies and decisions. Thank you once again for your patience and understanding and on behalf of my crew, we wish you the very best and stay safe.

Regards and more to follow soon.

Stu

 


Statement as of: 13:30, 21st March 2020

Update for 2020 summer departures

Since our last update a few days ago, much is changing rapidly at a Government and legislative level.  Support for workers’ pay gives reassurance to businesses and there are anticipated changes to the timetable of education systems and travel legislation that will provide additional options and help to mitigate exposure to all stakeholders.  This is fundamental information we need to be in a position to answer all your questions.

With this in mind it is essential that we allow a little time for these policies to become clear and until they do, we would be wrong to issue guidance that may be incorrect, change quickly, or limit important options.  We believe that in the coming days and weeks we will get clarity on the main factors that influence the forthcoming expedition season in 3 – 4 months’ time.  When this becomes clear, we will communicate a set of options, in collaboration with schools, so that you in turn can make informed decisions.

To help illustrate the task in hand, the nature of planning and delivering logistically complex experiences requires us to work with a wide range of supply partners, all of whom are dealing with the impact of this crisis concurrently.  We deliver services to all our travellers for many months in advance of travel with an average booking cycle of 16 months.  In order to secure competitive rates and services we are required to invest heavily upfront, which is why we require advanced payments from our travellers.  Our teams globally will typically invest as much work in the lead up to departures as the expedition itself.  Our list of suppliers includes airlines, hotels, transportation, specialist activity providers and various suppliers for our community, wildlife and environmental projects.  The guidance and support that is coming through from Government daily will, we believe, provide essential flexibility to help us create solutions for you and Camps.

In summary, our next trips do not depart until June and July and we can assure you there is no additional financial exposure that will affect you as we wait for the changes to be implemented.  Ultimately our aim is to deliver an amazing and safe experience when possible, doing all we can to minimise any financial impact, whilst also securing the jobs and welfare of the 170 staff at Camps and the thousands of people in our partner communities around the world.

We appreciate your patience, Camps International is a strong business, we will always operate with integrity and we are working hard to provide detailed answers for all concerned.

 


Statement as of: 18:30, 16th March 2020

Camps Community Update

World events continue to move rapidly, and here we endeavour to keep you up to date with the current developments concerning our strategies.  As the world grapples with the difficult challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to reach out to our global Camps community and give you a quick update.

As ever, our commitment to doing the right thing for our travellers and for our planet remains at the heart of Camps’ priorities. Please be assured that the safety of our travellers is our number one concern as we – along with the rest of the world – continue to navigate through this unique and evolving situation.

The UK Government is reacting to the changing environment and making sweeping decisions on a daily basis, which are profoundly affecting all sectors of society and daily life, including ours in the travel industry.

Decisions with respect to our travelling teams typically happen on a timescale that starts approximately a month prior to travel.  This falls in line with the regular updates of UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, from which all stakeholders involved in delivering expeditions take their cue.  Airlines, insurers and other supply partners are only able to respond once advisories fall within an imminent travel window. So, for departures from June onwards, we continue to monitor events closely and plan scenarios accordingly.  Until we approach departure dates, we will only be able to update you on the current state of play.

As things currently stand, we are still firmly committed to delivering our summer expeditions starting in June, in collaboration with our global partner communities. Our clear intention is that, events and safety allowing, we will be in a position to run all trips and deliver on our commitment to the wide range of projects and people that our experiences impact.

We will of course communicate regularly with you and respond appropriately in-line with official guidance as the situation progresses. Therefore, at this time, we are asking all our travellers to continue to prepare for their expedition as planned.  Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding.

As ever, if you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact our dedicated team during office hours on 01425 485390 or at travelsupport@campsinternational.com.

 

 


Statement as of: 19:00, 12th March 2020

As you are undoubtedly aware, we are all facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

This is understandably having a profound impact globally, especially on people’s day to day lives. In light of the UK Government’s recent statement on COVID-19 this afternoon, it is obvious that the current status is a rapidly developing, dynamic situation in which we all have to react on a day to day – almost hour-to-hour – basis.

In times of uncertainty, our number one priority is the wellbeing of our travellers, our employees, our loved ones and the wider Camps community. So, we wanted to give you an update of what we are doing.

Our team has been working around the clock to ensure that our decisions are based on the most up to date information and that we cause as little disruption as possible to our clients, whilst at the same time ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the thousands of travellers that have entrusted us to look after them.

We will, of course, keep you updated on any decisions and changes that are made as soon as possible.

With regards to the current situation, we can confirm that:

  • None of our UK school trips are immediately affected by today’s UK Government advice on international school travel.
  • We have no UK school trips due to depart for another 3-4 months and therefore, this advice does not yet affect these trips.
  • If your son/daughter is booked onto one of our summer expeditions, please rest assured that we will let you know nearer the time should the Government’s advice still be in place and affect your trip.

We fully understand how anxious you may feel about your son/daughter’s upcoming trip.

As ever, if you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact us during office hours or contact one of our dedicated team at travelsupport@campsinternational.com.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

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