Is the YCE Program Right for Me?
Are you ready to embark on a life changing adventure that will open your mind and heart? Are you curious about other cultures and ways of life? Do you want to develop your skills in a second language? Would you like to cultivate new friendships with individuals that have different backgrounds, beliefs, and customs than you? The Youth Camp and Exchange Program (YCE) may be the opportunity you are seeking.
Youth Exchange Handbook
Benefits of Participation
As a YCE participant, you will:
- Live with a family in another country
- Meet people your age from around the world
- Learn about your Lions hosts’ humanitarian work
- Deepen your understanding of yourself and the world around you
- Learn about the bonds we all share – and the differences we respect in each other no matter where we live
What to Expect
As a YCE participant you can expect to be immersed in a unique cultural experience with Lions clubs members supporting your learning. Your host family will treat you as a member of the family, expecting your engagement in typical daily routines and family meals. You will participate in social activities and visit cultural places of interest as arranged by the host Lions club. You are expected to have familiarized yourself with the customs, expectations, and basic language of the host country prior to your visit and have a desire to learn more. Please note, extended or outside travel beyond what is planned through the host Lions is prohibited. Even so, you can expect to have an unforgettable experience that will open your mind and expand your world view.
YCE participants must:
- Be between the ages of 16 and 21
- Be sponsored by a Lions club
- Be ready to represent your community, country and the sponsoring Lions club
- Welcome the opportunity to explore the customs of another culture
- Provide proof of insurance (health, medical, travel) and a liability release agreement
- Take initiative to learn the language of the host country (i.e. basic greetings and phrases)
What are the Costs?
Local program costs vary from country to country. Financial arrangements for transportation (including trip insurance, airport fees, customs duties, and layover or overnight fees) may be paid by the sponsoring Lions club, by the participant, the participant's family, or a combination of these sources. Host Lions clubs cover the costs of room and board with a host family. Participants are typically responsible for:
- Round-trip airfare
- Camp Fees
- Health, travel, and accident insurance
- Travel documents (such as passports and visas)
- Spending money
How to Apply?
- Review the Youth Camp and Exchange Directory to see current camp listings and locations where youth exchanges are offered. Note the camp application deadlines for locations of interest.
- Develop a wish list of a few host countries to inquire about.
- Contact your local Lions club to see if they participate in the program and may be willing to be your sponsoring Lions club. The participation of a sponsoring Lions club is required.
- Contact the corresponding YCE Chairpersons in your wish list countries for additional eligibility and application requirements. YCE Chairperson contact information is listed in the Youth Camp and Exchange Directory.
- Write a personal letter of introduction to your prospective host family that contains information on the following: interests, studies, hobbies, family, home community, previous travel experience, expectations for the program, and any dietary, health or religious requirements.
- Complete a Youth Camp and Exchange Application well in advance of any disclosed deadlines (including the endorsement and signature of your sponsoring Lions club) and submit it with your personal letter of introduction to the YCE Chairperson for the the location you are interested in.
Apply to become a Youth Exchange Student today by submitting your application listed directly above to Tammy Allan at MD19YEP@gmail.com.
Applicants selected to attend a Lions Youth Camp and/or Lions Youth Exchange will receive a confirmation letter and information packet. You should also attend an orientation meeting provided by the sponsoring Lions club. This orientation will help you prepare for one of the most exciting experience of your life, and answer any questions you may have about the program.
Topics may include:
- Cultural adaptation and tolerance (including host family relations)
- Rules and logistics, along with other pertinent information about Lions clubs
- Role of sponsoring Lions club, host Lions club, host family and districts
- Visas and passports
- Local currency and out-of-pocket expenses