Summer Work Student Exchange

Families & Hosts

“My host family made my experience and adjustment to a new community so much better! Thank you for matching me with such a great family!”

– Summer 2021 Youth Participant

Who Can Host

Our host families come in all different forms. SWSE celebrates the diversity of the people who participate in the program every summer. During the six week program, host families are responsible for providing participants with food and lodging, a bed in a shared or single bedroom, and a welcoming environment. An adult is required to be home overnight for the duration of the exchange and anyone over 18 in the home must consent to a police record check. Finally, we ask that at least one person living in the home have at least a basic level of English. Help with transportation to and from program activities in more rural communities is expected.

What to Expect as a Host

The program runs as a result of families who are willing to open their homes and share their lives with youth participants. Host families often gain insight into new aspects of Canadian culture and different belief systems, and build lifelong relationships. Due to the reciprocal nature of the program, it is expected that youth who go on the exchange provide a spot for an incoming participant either in their family’s home, or with someone in their community (such as a teacher, family friend or youth group leader).

There is no expectation that families occupy youth during the weekdays, act as a “tour guide” for youth or have pre-existing skills in the second official language. Program activities are planned for one weeknight plus Saturday and Sundays. The only exception is the first weekend in August which we set aside as time for youth and host families to spend together. Participants work full-time during the week. Staff will visit host families at least twice during the program and are always available by email or phone for guidance and support.

Making Hosting Accessible with Supports

The goal of our program is to make hosting a youth accessible for as many families as possible. Families are encouraged to discuss ideas, concerns and any questions with the local staff so they can best support you. Program staff take into consideration the host family's needs and expectations when making their placement decision.

Here a just a few examples of how we have supported host families.

  • financial support for the purchase of food when needed
  • finding an extra bed for an incoming participant
  • translation and communication support for families who are developing official language skills
  • organizing carpooling for hosts with limited or no access to transportation

This Newfoundland family opened its doors to Quebec teens through the YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange Program

Melissa, Paul, and their two daughters Scarlett and Carrie from St. John’s, Newfoundland had a wonderful experience opening up their home for six weeks last summer to two exchange students from Quebec.