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This Summer

Travel, Work and Improve your French!

"It was the best summer of my life! I learned new things and met amazing people and was able to participate in some fun activities!"
– Summer 2021 Youth Participant

Program dates are July 1 to August 12, 2023.
Spaces are still available!

About the Program

The YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange (SWSE) program is a national exchange program for 16 and 17 year olds living in Canada.

What makes this program special is that youth travel to a community in Canada where they live and work in their second language.

They are provided meaningful employment in public sector or non-profit jobs. Their summer employment experience gives youth a chance to contribute and make an impact in communities across the country.

Watch our 5 min overview video.

Summer Work Student Exchange 2021

We were pleased to be able to offer 245 youth participants an exchange experience in 2021! We want to thank staff, participants, hosts and employment partners who made the summer so successful. And thank you also for helping to make the exchange a safe one!

We are already planning and looking forward to another successful summer this year!

History and Funding

SWSE was first run in the summer of 1996 and has been organized through the YMCA of Greater Toronto since 2007. SWSE was developed with program goals to increase understanding of Canada among Canadian youth, develop second official language skills, deepen appreciation of difference and diversity, and create possibilities for youth to gain valuable employment experience. SWSE is funded by the Government of Canada, with partnership support from Via Rail.


Safety of youth, staff, hosts and community partners is at the core of our principles, and a priority in program planning and execution.

We will continue to follow the direction of government and local health authorities as we prepare for our exchanges.

To ensure high standards of safety, all staff go through a rigorous training process that includes a focus on understanding policy and procedures, working effectively with youth and supporting mental health concerns. All staff and host families undergo criminal record checks, there are robust requirements for workplace safety standards and staff chaperones accompany all group travel.

The aim of the program is to balance youths’ abilities to engage in critical decision-making, while providing healthy boundaries that support development and safety. This is done by:

  • Coming up with group collective agreements in the first week of the program and making sure participants understand the importance of following them to ensure their comfort and safety.
  • Having program-wide policies on curfew, respecting diversity and activity attendance.
  • Equipping local staff with tools to foster open, non-judgmental communication with youth.