bsa_tours_and_exchanges by shimeiyan


									                    The BSA International Youth Exchange Program

               International Tours and Exchange Booklet

For additional information on any of the topics
covered in this booklet, please contact:
International Division
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
Telephone: 972-580-2403
Fax: 972-580-2413
Web site:
                                                                                           International Tours and Exchange Booklet

The BSA International Youth Exchange Program
From the Scouter‟s point of view, the purpose of Scouting is to help young people become participating citizens; from a
Scout‟s vantage point, the fun and high adventure of program participation is paramount.

The most effective programs accommodate both points of view, and such a condition exists when young people
participate in the International BSA Youth Exchange program.

More than 3,000 members of the Boy Scouts of America participate annually in the program. It provides Scouts an
excellent opportunity to get to know a person from another country and to learn about that country, its culture, its lifestyle,
and its Scouting program. Visiting groups provide their hosts with a positive image of themselves and Scouting and
transmit new ideas, skills, and knowledge about their homelands.

How the Program Works
The International BSA Youth Exchange program allows a U.S. troop, team, crew, district, or council to host a patrol of
Scouts or a Venture group from another country for two to three weeks during the summer. (Venturer-age youth in other
countries are called Venture or Rover Scouts. Many of these Scouts are female.) The group resides with a Scout family
and participates in the normal activities of the host family and unit.

In a like manner, six to eight young people from the United States may go overseas as guests of a Scouting group in
another country for a two- to three-week period. As guests, these Scouts take part in the normal family life of their host
and the host Scout unit.

The local council will determine whether a unit is qualified to be a host or whether a youth can be a member of a guest
group or patrol. The qualifications for host and guest follow guidelines developed by the International Division in
cooperation with Scout associations throughout the world. Local council approval will endorse the unit for the initial
contact by the International Division.

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                                                                         International Tours and Exchange Booklet

        Policy and Procedure for Council, District, and Unit
        Scouting Officials Organizing an International Tour for
        Scout Groups or Hosting an International Activity

Secure approval of the council Scout executive, who may designate a representative to work on the
project. The Scout executive reviews the project with the council president and area director. This local
council approval, along with a written summary of the proposed activity, must be submitted to the region
for approval by the region and by the International Division.

If the project involves more than one council, it must be coordinated by a regional staff member, and
have the regional director‟s written approval before the project begins.

Organize a local committee to handle planning details. Be certain to involve enough people to do the job

Ask the International Division of the Boy Scouts of America to „„open a door‟‟ with Scout associations of
other countries. International Scouting protocol requires that all initial communication be through the
international commissioner of each association. Each such request should have the written approval of
the local council Scout executive. Requests should be made as early as possible, indicating the countries
to contact, approximate dates, and approximate number of youth and leaders involved. Include in the
request the type of contact desired: a visit or activity with a Scout group in a host country, assistance in
planning tours in another country, a Scout group from another country to be hosted in the United States,

Be certain all parties understand coverage given under the national general liability insurance program.
Registered Scouts and leaders of the
Boy Scouts of America are covered anywhere in the world while involved in Scouting activities. Scouts
and leaders from other nations will be covered only as they are involved in Scouting activities of the BSA.
However, the coverage does not protect them, only the Boy Scouts of America and its representatives.
Any liability claim arising out of an international tour or international Scout visit to a council will be
charged back to the council through the experience rating plan, increasing the council‟s exposure to loss.
If more than one BSA council is involved in an event, the host council assumes all liability insurance
risk exposure.

Make arrangements for necessary accident and sickness insurance coverage of participating Scouts and
leaders or international guests. Group accident and sickness insurance can be secured to cover BSA
groups during travel and other activities, and to cover international guests from the time they arrive in the
United States until they depart from the United States, and only while involved in BSA activities. The
local council Scout executive should contact Insurance and Risk Management at the BSA national office
for details of coverage to fit each special circumstance. Increased coverage is advisable for certain

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                                                                                         International Tours and Exchange Booklet

                Secure written permission, signed by parents or guardians, authorizing emergency medical treatment of
                all participants or international guests under age 18. Any exceptions due to religious reasons should be
                reviewed with the International Division. Include addresses and telephone numbers for emergency
                contact of parents and guardians. Names, addresses, and phone numbers for emergency contact should
                also be included for all adult leaders, 18 years and older. The BSA Personal Health and Medical Form,
                No. 34414A, covers all requirements and provides a health history. Some nations may require the written
                permission to be notarized.

                Refer to the BSA publication Tours and Expeditions, No. 33737C, for planning tips and resources.
                Guidelines and procedures for planning and conducting an international activity are essentially the same
                as those for a domestic activity within the United States.

                Make certain all plans are in keeping with basic standards and policies of the Boy Scouts of America and
                are approved by officials of the local council. Keep local council officials informed about all plans and
                provide the International Division copies of all correspondence with Scouting representatives in other

                For trips abroad, submit a National Tour Permit Application, No. 4419B, through the local council at least
                30 days before departure. This form provides space to request an International Letter of Introduction for
                the group.

                Follow all BSA policies and procedures, including council permission, for unit money-earning projects to
                support international programs.

                Secure the services of a reputable travel agent, experienced in international travel, to make travel
                arrangements. It is suggested that local qualified drivers be retained for trips and tours in foreign
                countries (except Canada).

                All BSA participants on trips abroad should have U.S. passports. Special regulations apply to Canada
                and Mexico for U.S. visitors. In addition, many countries will require a visa. A U.S. passport application
                can be secured at most post offices. A visa must be secured from the nearest consulate of the country
                issuing it. Your local post office should be able to provide information on consulate locations in the United

                A minimum of two adult leaders, 21 years of age or older, is required for each overseas tour group of 18
                or fewer youth members. An additional adult leader is required for every additional nine youth members
                or fraction thereof. If the group includes female youth members, the BSA policy on coed leadership must
                be observed.

Issued February 1, 1992, by the International Division.

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                                                                                          International Tours and Exchange Booklet

Be a Host
The program should originate with and be carried out by members of the BSA unit, with the approval of the local council
committee and the support and cooperation of the parents of the Scouts or Venturers.

Secure Local Council Approval
The local council is responsible for verifying troop, team, or crew qualifications to assume the obligations of hosting the
program. To qualify as a host unit, the unit must
•       Be historically active and in good standing.
•       Have a membership of which 40 percent of the Scouts are between ages 13 and 15, inclusive.
•       Meet all requirements and conditions expected of a host troop, team, or crew as outlined.
•       Have obtained the consent and approval of the local council.

If the program is a council or district project, the host troop, team, or crew may be a cooperative operation under control of
the council or district project coordinator. The council international representative should also be involved.

Plan the Program
The host unit must be able to plan and execute a program for home hospitality, unit activities, and camping during the
time the visiting Scouts are its guests.

The content of the program provided for the guest Scouts rests entirely with the host unit, under the general supervision of
the host council. Do not overload the program by trying to do too much during the stay. The itinerary should include:

1       Some time (up to two weeks) for joining the host troop, team, or post at summer camp or other outdoor activity or
special event.

2        Some time (up to a week) with a host family, where there is a Scout or Venturer of approximately the same age
as the visiting Scout.

International Hospitality
While in the United States, guests live in homes where there is a member of the host unit of a like age and sex. The host
family should provide subsistence and home hospitality consistent with its regular and normal practices and customs in
the home. Parents of the host Scout shall exercise supervision and authority to the same extent and manner over their
Scout guest as they do over their own son or daughter, consistent with what is customary and for the youth‟s well-being.

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                                                                                      International Tours and Exchange Booklet

Making the Plan Happen in Your Troop or Crew
(A planning checklist)
  1. Unit makes decision to include the BSA International Youth Exchange program in its program planning.

  2. Unit develops an outline of the plan for approval by the unit committee.

  3. Unit committee endorses the plan and pledges its full cooperation.

  4. Local council reviews the plan and releases its endorsement.

  5. Unit contacts International Division with the plan outline and requests overseas Scout contact.

  6. Unit organizes a special hosting committee that includes unit and adult leadership to coordinate the plan.

  7. Hosting committee sets up correspondence with the guest troop/crew to arrange full details of the visit and sends
     copies of the planned itinerary to the local council and International Division.

  8. Hosting committee develops the budget and secures any supplementary funds.

  9. Hosting committee develops activity schedules and all program arrangements.

  10. Hosting committee executes the hosting program.

  11. Hosting committee submits a report to the local council and International Division.

  12. Unit begins plans for its own visit overseas.

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                                                                                            International Tours and Exchange Booklet

International Awareness Notes for Hosts
When living and working with residents of foreign countries, a few striking differences in lifestyles become apparent
quickly. Here are some tips on how to adapt so that your guests feel most comfortable.

It is easy for native English speakers to forget that not everyone speaks English. However, for some visitors, English may
be the third or fourth language they have learned, and some may have a tribal language as well as a national language.
You probably will notice that English-speaking people have different accents, depending on what country they are from.

Of course, different accents may be hard to understand. Other differences within the English language include
expressions and names for things. For example, an English Scout may ask if you want a torch, but he is not offering you
something to light a fire—only a flashlight.

Other tips for dealing with language barriers include the following:
•         Speak clearly and more slowly than usual.
•         Try to speak in short sentences with clear ideas.
•         Ask questions that can be answered with “yes,” “no,” or a shake of the head.
•         If a question is important, rephrase it to test the listener‟s comprehension.
•         Be careful to treat the person with respect and not to be condescending.
•         Include the guest in your conversations as well as your activities.
•         Remember that humor will not be funny to people who are unfamiliar with your unique expressions, culture, and
•         Don‟t forget that not only is the English language foreign to many visitors, but the alphabet is as well.
•         Try to learn another language! It‟s a good way to make friends.

Different cultures have varying customs on how people should be addressed. Keep these tips in mind as you are
speaking with people:
•        Try to learn the name the visitor prefers to be called.
•        Address adults with such titles as „„Mr.‟‟ or „„Sir‟‟ until you become more familiar with them.
•        Do not try to shorten a person‟s name into a nickname unless that person agrees.
•        Never refer to someone by race or cultural heritage.

As language and other cultural differences are apparent, so will be the differences in visitors‟ daily diets. Remember some
of these tips as you plan your menus:
•          Hamburgers, bacon, and milk are not everyday food in some countries. In fact, some people do not eat any beef
or pork for religious or health reasons. In most countries, milk is not as common a beverage as in North America.
•          Do not force visitors to try foods that are strange to them, and if they try it and don‟t like it, do not push them to
•          Remember that people in some countries have good reason to think that eating with silverware is unnatural and
difficult. They may prefer to eat with their fingers or with chopsticks and drink their soup.

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                                                                                         International Tours and Exchange Booklet

Other Customs
•         Whistling is considered rude in some countries.
•         Boys and men in many countries are private about bathing and are shocked about nudity.
•         Some items of clothing that are considered normal in the United States may appear inappropriate to some
•         In some cultures it is quite normal for boys or men to hold hands or to put their arms around each other‟s
•         Embracing and kissing on the cheeks also are common greetings among close friends, and in some countries it is
customary to shake hands with everybody when joining a group, and then again when departing.
•         A few visitors will be from countries with limited natural resources. Take time to allow them to express their
interest in trees and wildlife, and teach them the basics of preserving nature.
•         People have different beliefs about praying and religion. It may be important for the group to take a break a few
times during the day so that members of certain faiths
can slip away for a moment of privacy.

Assign a Host Leader for Guest Scouts
An adult leader should be assigned to the hosting project to act in the interest and welfare of the guest patrol. Every guest
should feel free to discuss any problems with the host leader, and host families and troop members should confide in the
host leader in cases where conflict, incompatibility, or conduct is involved. The host leader should have authority to act
upon the situation, including relocating the Scout and taking disciplinary action under special circumstances.

Timing the Visit
The BSA host unit shall determine the time of year and duration of visit that best fits the unit‟s program. Because travel
arrangements of the visiting group may depend on school vacation periods and the availability of low-cost flights, host
units must take this into consideration when developing their plans. The visitation can be up to three weeks, depending on
program plans. The typical size of the guest patrol will be six to eight members, sometimes more for Venturing crews.

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                                                                                         International Tours and Exchange Booklet

Host Cost Factors
1         Host units are expected to provide all hospitality and subsistence costs for their guests.
2         Host units will take care of certain expenses incurred in special unit programs, as agreed upon by both host and
guest Scouts.
3         Guest Scouts are not expected to pay for any regular expenses during their visit unless they have special plans
for their visit that are agreed upon in advance with the host. Usually, summer camp fees are paid by visiting Scouts.

Guest Cost Factors
1        Guest patrols pay for round-trip fare from their home country to the hometown of the host unit or other meeting
point, as mutually agreed upon.
2        Guest Scouts are responsible for personal expenses (toiletry articles, special laundry, etc).
3        Guest Scouts pay special expenses that may develop because of plans that are not a part of the hosting
program, shared special event fee, or summer camp fee.
4        Guest Scouts pay special sightseeing expenses not normally a part of the hosting plan, or for special activities
agreed upon in advance.
5        Token friendship gifts for the host family are the responsibility of the guest Scout.

Special Clothing and Equipment
Because most airlines impose weight limits on baggage, guests are restricted in the amount of clothing and gear they can
carry. Should special clothing and equipment be required for the host unit‟s plans, the unit should make arrangements
locally to provide such equipment.

Remember Why They Came
The objective of this program is for Scouts from another country to participate in home hospitality and normal Scouting
activities, so extracurricular activities with civic organizations, too much entertainment, and undue publicity should be
avoided. Keep the project in its proper perspective.

Host families should welcome their guests as friends of the family without any undue fanfare. No need to spoil or fete
them—let them take part in family household chores as well as in family entertainment and outings. The visitors will return
home after two or three weeks with a much better idea of the United States and Scouting in America.

Be a Guest
Visiting another country is among the most rewarding experiences a Scout can have. American Scouts who travel abroad
to experience Scouting in other countries return to the United States with a deeper appreciation of the scope of world
Scouting and the real meaning of the world brotherhood of Scouting.

It is important that those selected to travel abroad measure up to high standards. It must be remembered that not only the
individual Scouts, but also the units, the Boy Scouts of America, and ultimately the United States will be judged by the
people of other countries.

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                                                                                          International Tours and Exchange Booklet

Laying a Foundation
The local unit or council will design a travel plan based on the interest and budget of the troop‟s membership.
To make a long-range plan, start at least a year in advance. Follow these steps:
1         Secure a copy of Tours and Expeditions, No. 33737C, from the local council service center. This contains
valuable information and the necessary application form for a national tour permit.
2         Prepare a preliminary plan that includes the following:
          a.       The purpose of the trip
          b.       The countries the group would like to visit
          c.       The dates of the trip
          d.       Leadership and membership participation
          e.       A general itinerary for the event
3         With this preliminary plan, contact a reliable travel agency for advice on the practical aspects of the plan. Such
guidance would include available transportation and tour accommodations and a factual cost estimate. The agency also
will give advice about passports, immunizations, visa requirements, and other details.

Finalizing the Plan
After reviewing the preliminary plan on the basis of the travel agency‟s advice:
1        Develop a more specific plan and budget based on that advice.
2        Have the travel plan reviewed by
         •       The local council Scout executive
         •       The International Division
3        Contact the International Division to make the initial contact for approval per international agreement between
national Scouting associations. Send written approval from the local council. Include the following in the travel plan:
         •       Tentative number of youth members, both male and female, and age range
         •       Tentative number of adult leaders, male and female
         •       Arrival and departure dates for each location
         •       Desired activities during the trip—home stays, Scout events, sightseeing, special interests
         •       A list of countries and cities to visit
4        Submit the National Tour Permit Application to the local council. Allow approximately six weeks for processing.

Implementing the Plan
No direct contact should be made until advised by the International Division that approval has been received from the
Scout association involved. This is the agreement between national Scout associations. The International Division makes
the initial contact on your behalf.

When the plans have been approved by both national associations, the designated leaders in both countries are put in
direct contact with each other to work out the many details. Copies of all letters should be sent to the Scout associations
involved, your local council, and the International Division.

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                                                                                              International Tours and Exchange Booklet

International Letter of Introduction
Upon recommendation of the local council, the International Division will issue the International Letter of Introduction to
the adult trip leader. This document is recognized worldwide as official identification with the Scouting movement, but it
does not imply any special accommodations, reception, or hospitality privileges other than that of good Scouting

Attached to each International Letter of Introduction will be an address card of the national Scout association in the
country you will visit. To obtain an official International Letter of Introduction, fill out an application and forward it through
your local council service center to the International Division.

Allow a minimum of three weeks for processing through local and national councils. The National Tour Permit Application
provides a section for requesting this document.

No International Letters of Introduction will be issued for visits that have already occurred. There is no cost for the
International Letter of Introduction.

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                                                                                          International Tours and Exchange Booklet

International Letter of Introduction Sample Application
The following is a sample of the application required to obtain an International Letter of Introduction. To order an official
application, request the Highlights fact sheet called International Letter of Introduction, No. 22-326, from the International

To obtain an official International Letter of Introduction, the adult trip leader should fill out the application below and
forward it through the local council service center to the International Division. Or you can go to and download a copy of the application. Only one letter is required
for a tour group; it is issued to the adult trip leader. In the appropriate column, please specify the number of Scouts and
adult leaders traveling. Please allow a minimum of three weeks for local and national processing.

Date    _______________

Please issue an International Letter of Introduction for the following applicant:

(Please print clearly.)

Name ________________________________ Address _____________________________

City _______________________ State ________ Zip code _______________

Telephone number ________________________

Registered as ______________________________________________________________
                           Title                         Unit No.

               Council name and No.               Council city and state

To visit the following countries ___________________________________________________

No. of youth traveling ___________ No. of adults traveling ____________

Date of visit _____________ to ___________ year

Signed _____________________________________________________________________
Approved by ______________________________________________________________
                           Scout executive or authorized representative

Submit this application through your local council service center.

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