The Activity Waiver
AFS uses a “blanket” waiver system among the AFS Partners giving parent(s)/guardian(s) an opportunity before the program starts to tell AFS what specific activities they will allow their child to participate in and specifically any activities in which their child will NOT be allowed to participate. The goal of the Waiver is to help parent(s)/guardian(s) understand that there are many types of common activities that their teenager may participate in while on the AFS program. AFS cannot name every activity a hosted participant may have the opportunity to participate in. The parent(s)/guardian(s) are therefore given a list that represents several common activities that hosted participants participate in here in the U.S. to help the parents decide what sorts of activities they will allow their teen to take part in while on the AFS program.
Parent(s)/guardian(s) permission is required in advance whenever participants are planning to take part in any higher-risk activities. For such risky, non-school-sponsored activities in which your hosted participant may wish to take part, either with your family or on their own, the Activity Waiver and a Supplemental Waiver must be on file.
You must contact your liaison to confirm whether an Activity Waiver is on file and/or if a Supplemental Waiver is needed depending on the type of activity. Many partner countries include the standard Activity Waiver in the participant’s application. However, the inclusion of this form is not yet universal, so it is essential that you check with AFS to ensure that a signed waiver is on file before your hosted participant takes part in any risky activities.
If a form is not yet on file for your hosted participant, AFS Participant Support Staff will obtain a signed form from your participant’s parent(s)/guardian(s) through our AFS Partner in your hosted participant’s home country. Further, a Supplemental Waiver may be required even if a blanket Activity Waiver is on file based on the type of activity that the student is considering taking part in.
Host families should NOT contact natural families directly regarding the Activity Waiver.
Activities covered by the Blanket Activity Waiver include but are not limited to:
- Passenger in a car, shuttle van or bus, in conjunction with normal program activity, including transportation to and from school, extra-curricular activities, and orientation events and enrichment activities arranged by AFS, passenger in a host family recreational vehicle (motor-home or camper).
- Outdoor Activities such as: horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, sand-boarding.
- Team and/or School Sports such as: all school sports such as American football, baseball, basketball, hockey, rugby, lacrosse, track & field, wrestling.
- Water Sports such as: swimming, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, water parks, water skiing/tubing.
- Winter Sports such as: cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding/tobogganing, snowboarding, snow tubing; and
- Other Activities such as: laser tag, martial arts, roller-skating, skateboarding, rappelling/rock climbing (indoor).
Host families are NOT permitted to sign facility-specific waivers (such as for zip-lining) requiring consent/signature of a parent or legal guardian. Participants are asked to contact their parent(s)/guardian(s) directly to obtain their signature, and to obtain a supplemental waiver if the activity is not listed on the blanket activity waiver. This simply means that a little extra planning is required before a hosted student can participate in these activities.
Prohibited Activities for ALL students
These activities are NOT covered by the Medical Plan and/or the Additional Benefits and participants may NOT engage in them under any circumstances:
- Professional athletics
- Hang gliding, paragliding or parachuting
- Military training exercises (includes ROTC activities)
- Piloting or serving as a crew member in any aircraft
- Passenger in a non-commercial aircraft*
*There may be exceptions to this exclusion. Please inquire with Support staff.
Further, AFS prohibits students from engaging in any activity that would require the student to have a license to operate (such as driving a car).
Prohibited Activities for CBYX, FLEX, and YES Students (Government Sponsored Programs)
Exchange students on the CBYX, FLEX, and YES programs are not permitted to engage in any activities not covered by program insurance or any activities students are not permitted to engage in by their Placement Organization, even if the activity is covered by insurance. CBYX, FLEX, and YES students are not permitted to handle firearms.
CBYX, FLEX, and YES students are not permitted to drive any motorized vehicle under any circumstances. Violators of this policy will be considered for program dismissal. This applies even if the student is in possession of an international driver’s license or if the host family feels that the student is a responsible and careful driver. Exceptions may be granted for FLEX and YES students to use farm equipment with written permission from AFS-USA. If authorized, the student must observe precautions regarding safety and legal limitations.
Examples of Activities Requiring a Supplemental Waiver
(THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST)
Before engaging in a high-risk activity, please contact AFS Support staff for guidance on whether or not the activity will be approved and/or if a Supplemental Activity Waiver is required. Examples of activities that require an additional waiver include:
- Operator or passenger of: snowmobile, farm equipment, motorcycles, trikes, scooters, quad bikes, ATVs, etc.
- Handling of weapons (guns, air guns, bows, swords, knives etc.) and shooting, hunting, practicing with them (this includes attendance at gun shows where the participant has an opportunity to handle weapons).
- Scuba diving (with proper certification).
- Kite surfing, parasailing, bungee jumping, and trapezing.
- Whitewater activities.
- Activities that call for interaction with non-domesticated animals (such as swimming with dolphins).
- Hot air balloon ride.
- Deep-sea fishing/ice fishing.
- Sled dogs.
Determining Whether an Activity is Considered “High Risk”
We ask that our volunteers and host families carefully assess each potential activity and determine on a case-by case basis if additional parent(s)/guardian(s) consent, in the form of a Supplemental Activity Waiver, would be prudent. Some questions you should ask yourself include:
- Will there be any outside parties involved (e.g., a white-water rafting tour operator) who may need a signature from a parent(s)/guardian(s)/legal guardian on their own consent and release form? (see Facility Specific Waivers below)
- If my own child were going to participate in this activity in another country, would I want to be notified and asked for my permission?
- Is this an activity in which the student does not participate at home?
- Is this an activity for which I want to have the parent(s)/guardian(s)s’ consent?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, contact your AFS Liaison/Local Volunteers who will contact Support staff to obtain additional permission.
An AFS Supplemental Waiver is required in situations where the activity is not listed on the blanket activity waiver and/or a supplemental activity waiver has not already been obtained.
Host families are NOT permitted to sign facility-specific waivers (such as for zip-lining) requiring consent/signature of a parent or legal guardian. Participants are asked to contact their parent(s)/guardian(s) directly to obtain their signature.
If you have any questions about allowable activities or waivers, please contact the Participant Support staff at 1-800- AFS-INFO (800-237-4636, option 9).