Exchange Process at a Glance - Travel Based Exchanges 

Group of people kneeling and surrounding a man-made camp fire. They are near a lake and are having lunch.

Application Phase

  • Application received and reviewed by the YMCA

  • Groups are twinned based on selection criteria which are:

    • Age

    • Size

    • Interest

    • Cost

*Any groups coming in pre twinned will be quoted on at the time of the application received.

Twinning Offer  

  • We will send the Group Leader a twinning offer letter, if a potential twin has been found.

  • Communication begins between both Group Leaders around group size, travel dates, objectives, and expectations.

  • Once ready, the Acceptance of Twinning form is returned to your Regional Coordinator within 1-2 weeks.  

Once both groups have accepted the twinning offer and the dates and numbers match, you have an official exchange!

Conditional Letter

  • Once we have received the acceptance of twinning from both groups, we can confirm your exchange and begin working towards paperwork deadlines.

  • A Conditional letter will be sent out to you with a list of the documents needed, the name of your travel agent, your group number and a deadline for said documents.  

  • This Letter will require an authorized signature from you and your supervisor


  • Group Leaders must connect with their Travel Agent as soon as they receive the conditional letter to review and confirm both your and your twin’s travel itinerary.

  • After you confirm the itineraries, the travel agent will make deposits on the flights.

Paperwork Timelines

  • All the necessary program forms can be downloaded on this website or will be sent to you by your Regional Coordinator.

  • The deadlines for paperwork are determined by the date of travel for the first group (usually about 8 weeks before the first travel date). This is because all the paperwork needs to be completed before being able to fully purchase travel tickets.  

  • Due to Funder agreement on purchasing tickets, any groups travelling in May or June will have deadlines in late February to ensure sufficient time to meet these deadlines.  

  • Any delays in completing the paperwork could result in a cancellation or change of exchange dates.

  • You will receive water bottles, lanyards, name and luggage tags after all paperwork and participant fees have been submitted.

Group Leader Orientation

  • All Group Leaders in the YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program will be provided with a comprehensive orientation to the program.  In most cases this occurs through group facilitation offered by the Regional Coordinators in each region.

  • Group Leader Orientation for groups travelling between January and June takes place during November and December.

Pre-Exchange Planning  

  • Review Organizational/Board policies related to travel (adult-participant ratios, home stays etc.)

  • Secure Insurance Certificate with the YMCA of GTA added as an additional insured

  • Recruit and select a group of youth  

  • The group starts planning hosting activities together

  • The group organizes fundraising activities  

  • Research home and host communities

  • Hold parent information meetings

  • Group Leaders twin their youth and encourages communication between the youth

  • Contact local media and local officials to inform them of the exchange

  • Group Leader works to complete the paperwork and a draft of their activity plan by the required deadlines

When it comes to planning for the exchange, youth are often an untapped resource.  The participants can help plan, take on responsibilities, and organize activities.  It will lead to a greater commitment to the exchange and a greater ownership of their experience. 

Travel Tickets

  • Any and all changes to group composition/names/dates, etc., must be authorized by the YMCA.

  • Your travel documents will be emailed to you from your travel agent, two weeks prior to travel only with the YMCA’s authorization. This is based on the submission of ALL outstanding documents and participant fees.

Travel and Hosting  

  • Groups take turns travelling and hosting each other  

  • Youth participate in group education and regional cultural activities. They spend time with and get to know their hosts.

  • The groups participate in a community service project on each leg of the exchange

  • Groups experience the diversity of Canada by visiting the twin community and learn to see their own community through their "twin's eyes" when hosting.

  • The YMCA supports groups to ensure that their exchange is successful.


To bring closure to the exchange experience, it's important to provide an opportunity for everyone involved (parents as well as group members) to talk as a group about the highlights and challenges of the exchange, as well as what they learned.

  • Group debriefs with the youth

  • Youth share their experience with the community

  • Youth are maintaining connections

  • Group Leader completes the post-exchange report

  • Youth, Group Leaders, and parents fill out the surveys

  • Group Leader participates in a follow-up call with Regional Coordinator

  • Group Leader shares photos/videos with Regional Coordinator