The Association of International Lions Clubs is perhaps the largest service organisation in the world, having been voted the number 1 NGO with whom to form a partnership for service and charitable purposes.
One of the many projects we run for the benefit of the youth of our world is our Youth Exchange Programme incorporating a Youth Centre, or Youth Camp. The main objective of this programme is to teach youngsters all about the culture, heritage, history and way of life of countries other than their own.
Here in the British Isles & Ireland, known as District 105 throughout our international organisation, we make use of educational facilities within universities or colleges during the Summer Holidays.
From Friday August 8 Lions, led by Paul Withers from Cranleigh, are organising a Youth Centre in the University of Surrey in Guildford which will be attended by over 40 foreign college students.
We find that by using the excellent educational facilities provided by Universities we are better able to impart a greater educational value than if using other premises such as, a children’s adventure and play centre, a hotel or youth hostel.
We concentrate on running workshops ourselves, splitting into smaller groups that encourage all the visiting youngsters to participate. We encourage all the youngsters, no matter what their religious or cultural background is, to fully partake of the facilities on offer.
We also ensure that every attendee makes a formal structured presentation of their own home life, heritage & culture to the rest of the group. Thus not only do we teach our visitors about the British way of life each & every attendee educates each other as well as teaching the Lions “staff” members.
We are extremely grateful to the Conference Management of the University for allowing us the use of their facilities.
We are also very grateful to the Police Regional Dog School who will be bringing their dogs to give a demonstration on the Campus.
Whilst at the Youth Centre, we shall escort our visitors on various trips, where we also concentrate on education.
For example we have a guided tour of both Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, where the foreign youngsters will have the opportunity to learn about our method of Government today.
This has been kindly arranged by our local MP, Anne Milton. Another trip is to Portsmouth where we shall have a guided tour of the historical HMS Victory & see the Mary Rose museum as well as visiting the other maritime museums.
Thus we are teaching them about our naval history too. On another trip they shall enjoy an Activity Day at the local Scouts venue at Bentley Copse.
Prior to attending the Youth Centre our visitors are hosted in the homes of various families all over the UK where at least 1 member of that household is a member of their local Lions Club.
Members of the Horsham and District Lions Club will meet and greet arrivals at Gatwick and ensure they transfer to their host families safely, then those hosts will bring them to Guildford.
This year we are particularly looking forward to providing a break from the troubles in their homeland to two students from the Ukraine and one from Israel.
We are also sorry that a student from Moldova and one from Algeria were not granted a visa.
More details on http://www.lions105se.org.uk/youth-camp-2014 scroll to see our programme & brochure.
Report contributed by Lion Paul Withers.