The program was officially introduced in 1961. Since then, thousands of young people (ages 15-21) have experienced life in another culture as 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; and
  • Participate in local customs.

Generally, Lions youth exchange visits are two to four weeks in duration. Many youth exchanges also participate in one-week (or longer) Lions international youth camps. Organized by Lions around the world, the Lions International Youth Camp Program provides young people (ages 16-22) with an opportunity to meet and share cultural viewpoints.

 How the Program Works

The success of the youth 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 exchange participant or;
  • A Lions club seeks young people to participate as youth exchange participant. Clubs often sponsor speech or essay contests in local schools to select participants for the Youth Exchange program.

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

  • 15-21 years of age (South Carolina accepts participants from age 15 to 18);
  • Sponsored by a Lions club;
  • Capable of representing their sponsoring Lions club, community, and country; and
  • Willing to accept the customs of another culture.


At the State Convention in Greenville in April 1989 (exact date not known), Lion Jim Campbell talked with the newly elected District Governors, trying to convince them to authorize the start of a multiple district sponsored international youth camp. He stated that he believed that this was the fastest way to get Lions Youth Exchange started in state. The idea was favorably received but it was suggested that it be presented to the Council Chairman at the International Convention.

In the summer of 1989, at the International Convention in Miami, Lion Jim Campbell presented the idea to the new Council of Governors Chairman, Lion Bill Carr, who promised to present the idea to the full Council. It was subsequently approved by the Council.

The first MD-32 Youth Exchange Committee became operational in the summer of 1989. It was composed of Lion Elizabeth Carroll – District 32-A; PDG L.C. Jones, Jr. – District 32-B; Lion Ed Johnson – District 32-C; and Lion James A. Campbell – District 32-D, Chairman. A budget was prepared to support twelve youth visitors, two Lion Directors and two youth counselors. Subsequently, the budget was approved by the SCLSCA. The proposed camp was planned to be held in the summer of 1990.

The camp has continued since that year and provides a host of activities for the visiting youth, including:

A two week stay with a host family

  • White water rafting trip;
  • A day on Lake Jocasse ;
  • At least three pool parties;
  • A day at Carowinds Theme Park;
  • Visit to the South Carolina Tobacco Museum;
  • Three nights at Myrtle Beach, SC with accommodations ½ block from the ocean;
  • A visit to The Center for the Birds of Prey;
  • A tour of the Storm Eye Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina;
  • A visit to Magnolia Gardens;
  • Tour of the Governor’s Mansion and the South Carolina State House;
  • Visit the Riverbanks zoo;
  • Tour of WP Rawls farm;
  • We have nine water related activities during the touring camp portion of the exchange program;
  • During the touring camp we will visit and have meals with at least twelve different lions clubs. 

     Our final “group hug”. I think you can tell we achieved our mission of “To create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world”

If you would like additional information on our camp please contact:

Lion Jim Varn

507 Bruce Drive

Camden, SC 29020

Phone: 803 432-5093 or Cell: 803 424-2908