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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.

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.  


  • 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.

Paperwork Timelines

  • The deadlines for paperwork are determined by the date of travel for the first group. 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.

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.

Pre-Exchange Planning  

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

  • The group starts planning hosting activities together

  • The group organizes fundraising activities  

  • Hold parent information meetings

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

  • Group Leader works to complete the paperwork by the required deadlines

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.

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. 



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 debrief with the youth

  • Youth share their experience with the community

  • Group Leader completes the post-exchange report

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

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