Youth Camps and Exchange (YCE) has programs all around the world and is designed for young people between the ages of 15 and 22 to create and foster a spirit of understanding among peoples of the world.

By providing an avenue for global fellowship, the YCE program aims to help youth initiate, grow and maintain international relationships promoting cultural education and international peace.

Exchanges typically last for 4-6 weeks with the help of host families (Lions or non-Lions), sponsor clubs and host clubs. Camps last for 1-2 weeks and are operated voluntarily by the hosting Lions Club.

Youth Exchange chairperson for District C2 for the Lions Brad Walls says that the application process for you to go on the YCE is quite simple but you need to follow certain steps to be considered. 

"So students fill out an application and then that application has to be sponsored by a Lions Club in order for that student to go. The cost depends upon which club it is, some clubs pay 100%, and some pay a percentage. Then the application comes to me and I review it and once that is all done and everything looks good then I look to place students in whatever country." 

Students can then decide if they want to go to a hot family or go to a Lions international camp. Regardless of what they choose, they will get to see and live a first-hand account of what living in that culture is all about. 

If living with a host family is something that a student wants to explore, it is not just any family. The Lions puts all host families through an extensive background check.

"The families have to be vetted through the Lions Club. Not anyone can just be a host family. There's a criteria you have to go by." 

When students have been set up with what country they want to go to and the host family, the Lions then send them on their way with some jackets and suck so that their family or the club leader in that country can recognize them.  

"They do all sorts of stuff with the students. Like when we host exchange students here in Calgary the family takes them to do all sorts of things. The Calgary Stampede, the Strathmore Rodeo, Drumheller, all sorts of stuff. They learn what it's like to be with that host family and what it's really like to be immersed in that culture."

Students will spend a full two or three weeks with the host family and then they will spend the last week or 10 days with other students at the lions camps where they will meet other students from all over the world and do all sorts of activities as well.

"A Prime example we have one that in Australia it's called Sound of Music, so it's all geared around the Sound of Music can actually go to the Alps and all of that, that sort of stuff. And it's a great experience."

When the students come back from their trip, they then have to make a presentation to the Lions of their experience. The most notable is Strathmore local Jaime Smith, who just entered her 12th year at Strathmore High School and went to Germany with the Youth Exchange program. 

If you want to apply to the Lion's Youth Exchange program visit their website at

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