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All International Youth interested in attending a leadership camp must be accepted and sponsored by a Lions club in their home country.
Canadian Youth interested in attending the Waterton Leadership camp must be sponsored by a local Lions club, their school, or another service club.
The Waterton Lions Youth Exchange Camp is world-renowned for it’s focus on leadership development. The camp is situated in the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Waterton Lakes National Park; the world’s first Peace Park shared by Canada and the United States.
The two goals of this camp are to Develop Leadership and Build Community.
The students who attend this camp are told that they are leaders, and all lessons and activities focus on helping the students to see themselves in that role. Students are guided through self-awareness and esteem building activities to help them recognize their individual talents and abilities. This forms the base for students to learn methods and tools for effective leadership, understanding how to use their individual gifts to lead with confidence.
Students are encouraged to understand the value of their leadership abilities in creating positive change.
Students learn the following:
- that leadership is both an attitude and a way of life, and that it affects all of one’s relationships, goals, thoughts and actions.
- what effective leadership can create, such as teamwork and co-operation, and their responsibilities as influencers.
- that effective leadership results when they can develop balance between their talents and challenges, people and tasks, and between emotions and logic.
In summary, the program aims to empower students to embrace their leadership capabilities and make decisions to create positive changes in their communities.
An international community exists at this camp. That community is nurtured throughout the week so that by the camp’s end, it has become a family. By learning how to build a healthy, happy, caring, and supportive community at camp, students can return and work toward achieving these objectives in their own communities around the world.
Students learn the following about community:
- how important a community is,
- how a positive community can provide an environment of support and encouragement to its members.
This knowledge is especially vital to students from countries where trust and friendship between neighbours and amongst different ethnic groups does not exist.
- This camp combines daily leadership lessons with traditional Canadian camping and rural activities such as hiking, horseback riding, campfires, and a Barn Dance.
- There is also an activity called the “Challenge Program”, which is an afternoon of teams facing physical obstacles to overcome, and a nightly “Show & Tell” session where students go before the members of the camp and talk about themselves and their communities.
- The week ends with a “Friendship Circle”, where everyone holds hands in a circle under the sun, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, and each person tells the group what the camp experience has meant to him/her.
- We create an experience where students can live in a positive, harmonious community, and live the ideals of effective leadership, so that they are motivated to return to their own communities around the world and be positive leaders and role models.
- The lessons students learn at this camp are taught almost entirely through the experience of daily living at camp.
- Students understand personally and first-hand what it is to build and be part of a wonderful community, and to create positive change through leadership.
In addition to many youths from the Province of Alberta, as part of the Lions Club International Youth Exchange program, students from around the world apply to attend the camp and to experience a family hosting prior to and after camp. Past participants have come from India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, Great Britain, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and Israel.