Youth Camp and Exchange Program

by Nancy Sullivan

Massachusetts Lions Youth Camp and Exchange Program

Easton Lions Host a Youth from the Netherlands – Summer 2014

Last July, our Lions Club hosted Bente Frissen, a youth from Heerlen, the Netherlands (Holland 2), for 10 days. She was sponsored by the Heerlen Lions Club in which her father is a PP and 25 year member.  Heerlen is a Club in the MD 110 in the very south of the Netherlands.  Bente is 17 years old, is going into her Senior year at her school, speaks 5 languages (and also studies Latin) and is very bright, curious, kind, and mature for her years. She is fluent in English, both in speaking and writing. She works part-time in the HEMA store (like one of our “big box” stores) in Heerlen. Her great sense of adventure brought her to the United States for the first time.  She wanted to see for herself what she had heard about from various sources and seen on television.  She was pleasantly impressed and excited to find America a truly rich and very large land.  She knew it was “big,” but she said she really had little idea of just how big and abundant it is.

Each year, youth between the ages of 15 and 18 experience life in another culture through Lions Youth exchanges.  Unlike some exchange programs, the Lions program does not involve tourism, academic studies, or employment.  Instead, the Lions youth exchange program provides young people with a unique opportunity to:

  • Participate in everyday life in another culture;
  • Reside with a host family;
  • Serve as an ambassador for international understanding;
  • Participate in local customs.


Countries represented are:

France       Ireland          Czech Republic Austria      Finland          Lithuania Germany      Netherlands      Slovak Republic Hungary      Poland           Brazil Italy        Denmark

Participation in the Youth Exchange Program is open to all young people who are:

  • The appropriate age
  • Sponsored by a Lions Club
  • Capable of representing their sponsoring Lions Club, community, and country
  • Willing to accept the customs of another culture
  • Being reasonably fluent in English is also a requirement for American exchanges.


The success of the Youth Camp and Exchange Program is the result of cooperation among many people.  The program begins when:

  • A young person requests sponsorship from a local Lions Club to become a Lions Youth Camp or Youth Exchange participant.
  • A Lions Club seeks young people to participate in their Youth Camp and Exchange Program.

Types of Lions Club Youth Exchanges:

  • Youth Exchanges can be arranged in hundreds of countries where there are Lions Clubs. Most exchanges last between 4-6 weeks during which the participants (ages 15 – 21) stay with one or more host families in another country.  Participants experience life as part of their host family.
  • Youth Camps are 1 – 2 weeks long and bring together young people (ages 16 – 22) from around the world.  Camps usually include a family stay that lasts between 1-4 weeks. More than 100 Lions camps are held each year in about 39 countries.  Activities include visits to places of cultural or natural interest, sporting events and country presentations by the camp participants. THE MD 33 Program is both a Youth Exchange and a Youth Camp where young people stay with a family for 10 days and then with other young people from around the world for 10 days.

Bente enjoyed her stay with Lion Nancy Sullivan and Nancy and she have become good friends. As a high schooler, however, she really enjoyed being at the camp, held at Bridgewater State University, for 10 days with youth from 13 countries, sharing their life experiences, learning about other countries and customs, and having great fun with all the planned activities.

On the 19th day of their visit, these terrific youngsters not only cooked and served a buffet of dishes that represent their countries, but also gave power-point presentations about their countries to all of the assembled Lions host families and friends.

The Buffet served by the youth representatives who told us about the food, included:

  • Schnitzel – Germany
  • Crepes – France (2 youth)
  • Pasta a la Amatricana – Italy
  • Pasta Cabonara with Prosciutto – Brazil
  • Tinginys – Lithuania
    (Potato Pancakes)
  • Salmon Soup – Finland
  • Gizik – Poland
  • Rodgrod Med Flode – Denmark
  • Porkott – Hungary
    (Chicken legs & vegetables)
  • Hete Bliksen – Netherlands
    (Dutch recipe for Shepherd’s Pie – the Dutch use a lot of apples in their recipes)
  • Zaemi Akové Blocky – Slovakia
    (Nut & Fruit “cake” cut in squares)

Austria helped serve.

Martin Middleton is the Coordinator for the Multiple District 33S and District S Youth Exchange Program.  If anyone is interested in hosting a Lions family member please let Nancy Sullivan know.  She will help you with information and connections needed to have this wonderful experience of connecting with Lions Clubs around the world.