Youth Exchanges Canada

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Reaching your potential and discovering Canada

The Youth Exchanges Canada program is designed for groups of 10 to 30 participants between the ages of 12 and 17. Participants are paired with same-age groups from another province or territory, and they travel to each other’s communities, staying for at least 5 days.

  • Contribute to improved knowledge and understanding of Canada among Canadian youth.
  • Help young Canadians connect to one another and create links throughout the country.
  • Develop Canadian identity and attachment to Canada among youth.
  • Contribute to the development of leadership skills in young Canadians.
  • Foster a stronger sense of community by providing opportunities for youth to become actively engaged.

The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program is open to groups of young people who belong to a recognized community organization or school. To participate in the program, you must:

  • Be part of a group of 10 to 30 youth.
  • Be between the ages of 12 and 17, and have not previously participated in the program.
  • Be prepared to live away from home for at least five days (not including travel time).
  • Participate in activities before, during, and after the exchange to help you get ready for the experience.
  • Organize fundraising events to help cover the cost of hosting activities and local transportation.
  • Agree to pay a group participation fee ($70 per person).

Although this program is open to all Canadian youth, we do give priority to those who are engaging participants from traditionally under-represented groups:

  • Youth from low-income households
  • Aboriginal youth
  • Youth with disabilities
  • Visible minority youth
  • Youth from rural or isolated areas

Register for a YMCA Youth Travel and Exchange program in two easy steps:

1 The YMCA accepts applications on a year-round basis.
  Group leaders are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Our application deadlines are September 30 and March 1st. A few weeks after you apply, the YMCA will let you know if your application has been accepted. If it is, we will send you:
  • A copy of the Exchange Leader’s Workbook to help you organize your exchange,
  • Information about the programming of activities, fundraising and budgeting, twinning of participants, etc.,
  • We’ll let you know the deadline for submitting your forms and fees. We’ll also confirm the exchange before we start making travel arrangements.
2 Here's how to apply online:
  Click here to visit our online application website.
Key Dates
For travel between January and June: Application deadline September 30th
For travel between July and December: Application deadline March 1

Fees and Financial Assistance:

As part of this program, we ask you to pay:

  • Hosting-related expenses such as local transportation and activity costs (conditional upon the agreement of both organizers)
  • A group registration fee based on $70 per group member. This fee is submitted as one cheque and should be included as part of the group's overall fundraising plan rather than having each individual pay.

The Government of Canada, through YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program, pays for:

  • The travel costs of all eligible participants and organizers (one organizer for each group of 10 youth or fewer, two organizers for 11–20 youth, and three organizers for 21–30 youth)
  • Accommodation and meal expenses if the group must stop overnight on its way to the host community
  • The cost of special measures that may be required

Special Measures Funding

To encourage all Canadian youth to participate in the YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program, we have adopted certain measures to make this possible. Under some circumstances we provide special funding.

Generally, these measures may be eligible for funding:

  • Extra leaders—for younger groups and groups that need more support,
  • Alternative housing— if billeting is not possible,
  • Modified vehicles,
  • Interpreters, guides and special assistants.

Your YMCA Regional Coordinator representative will help you find the best way to accommodate your group's needs. Where local community resources are not available, you may ask for additional support. Your YMCA representative will evaluate the needs and resources on a case-by-case basis.

The Government of Canada, through Exchanges Canada a part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, provides financial assistance for this program. Exchanges Canada also offers information on exchange activities available to young Canadians through the 1 800 O-CANADA information line (1 800 935-5555, TDD/TTY 1 800 926-9105) or visit their website. You can also reach Exchanges Canada by mail at:

Youth Exchanges Canada Program
Citizen Participation Branch
Department of Canadian Heritage
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0M5

Programme Échanges jeunesse Canada
Direction Générale de la Participation des citoyens
Ministère du Patrimoine canadien
25 rue Eddy
Gatineau, QC, K1A 0M5

Assistance and additional information:

Call 1-877-639-9987 to find out more about YMCA Youth Exchange programs.