Learn About Our Friendly Towns Program

A visit to stay with a host family is full of fun experiences like playing in the backyard, riding bicycles, barbeques, swimming, making new friends and having fun!

How are host families selected? Most host families learn about the program through a neighbor or friend. Every family goes through a rigorous screening process including a home visit, background check, interview, and reference check.

Volunteer host families live in small towns, suburban and rural communities along the East Coast. Many families live in the tristate area. 

Many children return to the same family each summer, forming special friendships and gaining new perspectives.

As a reminder, The Fresh Air Fund only provides 24/7 support and program coverage for visits that are arranged through The Fresh Air Fund. Read more about our policies here.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required for children, volunteer host families and volunteers participating in 2024 Fresh Air Fund summer programs. The Fresh Air Fund strongly encourages up to date COVID-19 vaccinations and all staff are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

How We Choose Host Families



All families complete an application and phone conversation with a trained local volunteer or Fresh Air staff.



We run background checks on all household members (18 years or older), including anyone who lives in the home, who may supervise the child, or who will spend significant time with the child.



Trained local volunteers or Fresh Air staff visit your home to make sure it is a safe, welcoming, and child-friendly environment.



Everyone living in the home is interviewed in-person. The interviewer ensures that your family understands what the hosting experience is like and that you will provide a high quality, safe experience with outdoor experiences and new opportunities.



Families provide references. 1 must be from a professional who has worked with children.

A two-year separation felt like a very long time, since our Fresh Air child Yamileth started visiting us when she was 7 years old. But we hit the ground running! We were all so happy to be together, and it was a great week of fun outdoor activities.

Cristina, Host Parent

When he was much younger, Bryant learned how to swim at a local pool. This summer, our daughter Kasey taught him how to dive! The cheers were like the Olympics as he mastered this skill, smiling all the way.

Marleen, Host Parent

My favorite experience from Friendly Towns was going to a pond and visiting the aquarium. I had a fantastic time with the family that hosted me – it was definitely a 10/10! My advice is to just be yourself, enjoy the moment and don’t be afraid to try new things. 

Alitzel, 12

Karla and I always share a big adventure on her visit. Karla is fearless! This summer, we went to Catamount Mountain and zipped along on North America’s longest zipline. We were flying through the air and the view of Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire was breathtaking.

Jennifer, Host Parent


Every host family plans different activities. Some favorites are playing in the backyard, fishing, riding bikes, picking blueberries, swimming, visiting a local amusement park and star gazing.

We ask our host families to describe the types of activities their family enjoys and tell us about their community. Then we work closely with the parents of Fresh Air children to create a match with a host family that is a good fit.

A Day In Friendly Towns

Meet a few of our Fresh Air kids and follow them on a day in Friendly Towns!

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A Summer Can Last a Lifetime

Many children return to the same host family year after year – and stay in touch. We love hearing from our alumni and host families about the special relationships they formed and about the impact of their Fresh Air experience.

Learn More