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Give your group the experience of a lifetime!


“These exchanges help create lifelong connections with people halfway across the country, and help our students understand and appreciate the cultural differences that can exist in Canada!”

-Earl Marriott Secondary

Reaching potential and discovering Canada

The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada (YEC) Program offers your youth group the opportunity to travel to another part of Canada for a life-changing experience. Group aged 12 to 17 will:

  • Discover new places and explore their own community.
  • Meet new friends.
  • Learn about Canada's diversity.
  • Have fun with a wide variety of educational activities.

The program pairs groups of 10 to 30 participants together from a different province or territory, staying at least 5 days in each other communities.
Youth explore Canada while learning leadership, communication and teamwork skills. By working together on community projects, they will make new friends while discovering the history, geography and diversity of Canada.

A camp group on their way to the camp site in a bus

Connecting communities

We match school or community groups from different parts of Canada for two one-week educational exchanges, which can take place at any time during the year. Preparation, travel and hosting activities provide an excellent opportunity for youth to develop interpersonal and teamwork skills while exploring their own community and discovering another. Youth will:

  • Improve their knowledge and understanding of Canada, learning firsthand about the history, geography, economy, institutions, cultures, communities, languages and other facets of our country.
  • Connect to one another and create links throughout the country and among groups, helping to strengthen the fabric of Canadian society.
  • Develop a stronger Canadian identity and attachment to Canada, as well as an appreciation of the diversity and shared aspects of the Canadian experience.

Each year, over 1,500 Canadian youth participate in exchanges across Canada. A unique aspect of our program is the freedom each group has to tailor their programming to the age and interests of the youth involved, allowing for a customized and purposeful program that fits with your group’s goals.

Mixed group of people holding Canadian flags
Exchange students at historical location

Begin the journey today

The program is open to groups of young people who belong to a recognized community organization or school. To participate in the program, youth 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.
  • Organize fundraising events to help cover the cost of hosting activities and local transportation.

The roles during the program :

  • The Government of Canada pays the transportation costs for all eligible participants and organizers.
  • The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada Program connects you with a twin, organizes and pays for travel, provides orientation, support and resources on organizing a successful exchange.
  • As a Group Leader, you would work your group to plan local activities and host your twin Group.

Key Dates

Traditional exchange:

  • For travel between January 1 and June 30, the application deadline is September 30.
  • For travel between July 1 and December 31, the application deadline is February 1.

Virtual exchange:

  • Our applications are OPEN!

Applications are open to adult Group Leaders applying on behalf of their group!

Need more information? You can be contacted by one of our staff by filling this simple form.

"Youth Exchanges Canada is so key to the personal development of any young person. It is such an enriching experience that I would like to make it a mandatory activity for all young people. It shows them other ways of living and how to interact with people differ-ent than them."

— Intercultural Club, Earl Haig Secondary School

"Throughout the exchange our youth formed an incredible bond and became like one large group where everyone was included. After the exchange our youth have remained connected, both with each other and their twins. They continue to check in with one an-other and have built true friendships."

— Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School

"Creating an opportunity like this has encouraged our students' engagement and advo-cated for the attendance, academics, and attitude that the students need to participate. These attributes have guided the youth from our community to become stronger individuals and leaders for themselves, their families, and their Indigenous communities."

— Piyesiw Awasis Community School

"The youth took pride in planning activities to take place in their community of Montréal.
It was pleasant to see the sense of identity that emerged from the program."

— YMCA Westmound and YMCA Notre-Dame-de-Grace

History and Funding

The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada (YEC) Program is organized through the YMCA of Greater Toronto. YEC has been offering exchange programs to diverse communities across Canada since 1976, and is celebrating 20 years of funding from the Canadian Government’s Exchanges Canada program in 2020. YEC is grateful for the continued support from Exchanges Canada, a division of the federal government’s Department of Canadian Heritage, which is the program’s primary funding source.

Through participation in the program, youth from across Canada are given the opportunity to learn about Canada’s history and diversity, initiate community projects, make new friends and connections, and develop an appreciation for both official languages. The program has a strong and defined focus on engaging youth throughout the exchange cycle, learning through volunteer service and youth leadership within the program’s coordination.


Youth Exchanges Inquiry Form

Thank you for your interest in YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada (YEC). Please complete our inquiry form and someone will contact you soon.

Please note that the YEC program only accepts applications from group leaders for their groups.

If you’re interested in an individual exchange, take a look at our Summer Work Student Exchange (SWSE) program.

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