We create incredible programs showcasing our respective regions, our culture, and family life. Becoming an OF delegate is a two-year commitment for both the delegate and their family, consisting of a Hosting Year and a Travel Year. American teens who join are required to do so during a Hosting Year. The length of both hosting and travel period is just under three weeks, during the summer. One can typically expect to host and travel during the July–August timeframe.
The Hosting Year
During the hosting year, each family opens their home to host one or more delegates from Operation Friendship of Europe. A great deal of care goes into matching delegates with teens who have similar interests and are close in age.
These homes provide:
- adult supervision for the entire 3 week program
- transportation to and from scheduled events
- 3 meals a day
- a separate bed for the guest (but not necessarily a separate room)
In addition, each chapter arranges many activities that often include transportation. These activities range from trips to cities and beaches, to campgrounds and amusement parks. Other activities include lunch or dinner at popular restaurants, and always, a welcome party and a farewell party. Family days are included during the hosting year—days where the guests and their host family have free time to arrange their own activities.
The Travel Year
There are currently seven countries in Europe involved in hosting Operation Friendship of America (OFA) delegates. Delegates must be 15 years of age to travel abroad. During the fall preceding the travel summer, the delegates are asked to submit an application form and select three countries in Europe that they are most interested in traveling to.
In the fall of the travel year, each chapter will submit:
- the delegates’ application forms with country preferences
- a medical form of each delegate
- a check deposit for travel
After a careful review of available host families, the OFA National Board makes all travel arrangements. Delegates may indicate several countries of interest, but final placement decisions rest with OFA as they take into consideration various factors of staying in the host country, including chapter size and age groupings. Once arrangements are made, OFA informs the local chapter where each delegate will travel to, including flight dates and times. The delegates travel abroad to their assigned countries to experience a three-week program not unlike the hosting year’s.