What if I have other questions?
Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions.
What is an Experiences Canada Exchange?
An Experiences Canada Exchange is a reciprocal, homestay exchange between two groups of Canadian youth, each in a different part of Canada. Experiences Canada exchanges are enriching, enhance learning and give participants an experience that lasts a lifetime.
How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
The Experiences Canada Exchanges program is accessible to groups of youth comprised of a minimum of ten participants from a school or recognized community organization. The youth must be Canadian citizens, landed immigrants or have refugee status in Canada.
What if I am an international student?
International and visiting students can participate in our exchanges; however, the group must cover their costs.
How old are the youth that participate?
Experiences Canada Exchanges are designed for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years.
How long is an exchange?
Exchanges are typically 7 to 10 days for each group (including 2 days of allotted travel time).
Where can I travel on an exchange?
Anywhere in Canada! Experiences Canada is active in all Canadian provinces and territories. Groups can request a specific destination or let our staff recommend one.
When does our group travel and host?
Exchanges can take place any time of the year. Once approved for funding, the two groups discuss and agree on travel and hosting dates. Experiences Canada will then coordinate the travel arrangements.
Do students miss school?
Yes, depending on the travel and hosting weeks, students could miss school. However, Experiences Canada, participating schools, and community associations recognize that experiential learning is a valuable complement to the school setting.
How do I find a group to twin with?
If you already know of a group that you would like to exchange with, you can indicate their name and address on your application. Otherwise our staff will find a group for you by identifying a group that matches your own group’s demographics and interests. Twinning groups is based on compatible group size, ages of youth and gender balance, as well as on similar themes or interests. Other factors in twinning groups include equitable provincial and territorial distribution, group participation history and budget considerations. Please note that identifying a group on your application does not automatically guarantee approval; Experiences Canada must still consider all of the factors mentioned above.
How do I apply for an exchange?
Applications are completed and submitted on-line at by the Group Organizer.
When is the deadline to apply for an exchange?
There is no deadline – Group Organizers can apply at any time during the year. We do suggest applying at least 4 months prior to your intended travel dates.
When will I know if my application is accepted?
As soon as you submit an application online, you will receive an automated e-mail acknowledging receipt of your application. Generally, groups applying for a summer exchange are advised of their funding approval in early March. Groups applying for a school-year exchange are advised of their funding approval in early September.
Does Experiences Canada provide any kind of training to Group Organizers?
Experiences Canada provides on-going support and guidance throughout the exchange-planning process. A detailed Group Organizer Handbook and a required video tutorial are provided to ensure that Group Organizers are well versed in what it takes to have a successful exchange. If requested, Experiences Canada can also coordinate a comprehensive orientation conference call with both group organizers to address any questions or concerns from the outset.
How much will an exchange cost and who pays these costs?
Each group pays a membership fee upon submitting an application, and then a per participant registration fee once an exchange has been approved and confirmed. The travel costs between community airports are paid for by Experiences Canada with funding from Exchanges Canada at the Department of Canadian Heritage. Participants are, however, liable for the full price of the ticket if they cancel and the group is not able to find a replacement up to 1 week prior to scheduled travel. In such cases, Experiences Canada will invoice the participant. The cost of local activities and excursions during the exchange is paid for by the groups through self-financing. The average cost per youth varies from $300-$500 depending on the activities and excursions chosen. Many groups organize fundraising events to help cover the cost of activities and local transportation when hosting their twin group.
Who chooses the participants who get to go on the exchange?
Each group chooses their own participants. Groups may consist of students in an existing school class or youth from a community association such as dance troupes, music clubs, sports teams, Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others.
How do I twin the youth?
Group Organizers develop twinning criteria together and a plan to facilitate good matches based on individual profiles, ages, interests, as well as on any allergies, medical concerns and/or special needs.
How do I know the host family stay will be safe?
The safety and security of our exchange participants is Experiences Canada’s number one priority. All host families must complete a strict screening process which includes providing references and/or having a home visit by the Group Organizer. We believe that the host family experience is a positive learning opportunity and creates a connection between the youth that would only occur outside of structured activities.
Who is required to obtain Police Checks?
All group organizers and chaperones are required to obtain a Police Record and Vulnerable Sector Check. All members of the host family who are over the age of 18 are also required to obtain a police record and vulnerable sector check.
How do I obtain a Police Record and Vulnerable Sector Check?
To obtain the Police Record and Vulnerable Sector Check please visit your local police department.
Do I need to bring anything with me to complete the Police Record Check?
Please bring photo ID and the volunteer letter which can be found in the Experiences Canada secure website.
How can youth be more involved in exchanges?
We encourage Group Organizers to engage youth participants in the planning of their exchange experience. It is a great opportunity to get youth to stop and think about what makes their own community special, and what they’d like to showcase to others. Each exchange group is also asked to identify a youth to act as Youth Ambassador to work with Experiences Canada staff to help document their exchange experience through social media, and in the Experiences Canada annual digital yearbook. If you are interested in this role you should talk to your Group Organizer.