Apply to be a leader


CISV leaders volunteer their time to support small groups of students in various age groups through a life-changing travel experience.

Leaders don’t get a salary, but their major expenses are paid, including air fare and activity-related fees such as entrance fees to museums and parks and mini-camp registration fees. In addition, leaders get training and support from CISV, an international nonprofit with more than half a century of success. CISV’s educational goals are research-based, and align with the development of 21st century skills such as global citizenship and team work.  Based on surveys of former participants, CISV’s programs have impact. Leaders are a key part of this global movement for peace.

Here’s a video featuring leaders and participants talking about the impact of their CISV experiences:

Prior to and after travel, our leader will meet periodically with our Detroit delegates to help plan activities and reflect on their travel experience.

Leaders must go through CISV training — which typically takes place over two weekends — before the program begins.


The most exciting aspect of volunteering with CISV is the opportunity to meet other CISV volunteers and children in your community and from around the world, and make friendships for life. But you will also be building your own skills in:

  • Facilitation
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving

Plus, you get a free trip to another part of the world, with many chances to connect deeply with the culture and people.

If you’re interested in conducting some research in collaboration with educators in the country where you will be traveling, there may be an opportunity for that as well. This is especially true if you are leading an Interchange, which is a home-based experience. Most CISV programs are camp-based, offering leaders less free time to conduct research. Here’s how to inquire about doing research related to CISV.


  • 21 prior to travel
  • Physically and emotionally healthy, with demonstrated self-discipline
  • Always holds the children’s safety as priority number one
  • Communicates effectively with adults and youth
  • Assumes responsibility and works within a group
  • Has a positive, flexible personality – able to adjust to differences in schedules, activities, cultures, foods, etc.
  • Enjoys playing games, singing, dancing, etc.
  • Accepts others without prejudice, regardless of race, religion, language or culture
  • Willing to attend CISV training and learn CISV culture
  • Understands that he/she will be preparing and running activities, especially during the 3-day mini-camp near the beginning of each Interchange phase
  • Able to meet periodically with delegates (March-June) in preparation for the Interchange experience
  • Able to host his/her leader partner near Detroit during host phase
  • Not the parent of a delegate applicant


  1. Attend and participate fully in one of the mandatory local training sessions to be scheduled in the spring of each year. Also attend and fully participate the national Leadership Training weekend scheduled for late spring.
  2. Plan and conduct activities which prepare the delegation for the program, including but not limited to:
    • Help delegation prepare scrapbooks about delegation members and Detroit to exchange with partner delegation
    • Plan and prepare with the delegation a “National Night” including preparation of American-style food and a presentation about Detroit
    • Coordinate with families to conduct delegation “get-togethers” prior to the Interchange and between phases
    • Coordinate with partner leaders to plan activities
    • Help delegates connect to CISV’s educational goals
  3. Attend our chapter Farewell Picnic with your delegation
  4. Exhibit behavior that is mature, responsible and appropriate in keeping with CISV philosophy and the role of leader for youth.
  5. Be aware and communicate any health problems the children have, and be able to deal with such problems if they arise, and be able to assist host families in dealing with such problems.


The selection process includes:

  • A written application and three references
  • An overnight mini-camp involving games and other activities similar to those experienced in the Interchange mini-camp
  • An interview
  • A background check based on this Background Check Form

The application form to be an Interchange leader or jr leader is the Interchange Information Form for Leaders & Junior Leaders.

The application form to lead a delegation to a CISV camp is the Staff-Leader Application Form.

If you’re applying to lead the 2018 Interchange with Mongolia, please contact Emilia Askari at If you’re applying to lead a delegation of 11-year-olds to a Village camp, please contact Mary Harper at

You also will need three people to fill out this confidential leader and staff Reference Form. These people should be:

  1. Your present or recent employment supervisor
  2. A person who has knowledge of your ability to work with children
  3. Someone who knows you on a personal level

Go ahead and fill in:

  • Applicant’s Information
  • Check the Leader box under “seeking appointment as”
  • “In the following CISV programs” write the name of the program you would like to lead: Village, Interchange or Step Up
  • To answer the question “applicant has provided CISV Program and Leadership Description to Referee” as yes, you may direct the people filling out the reference forms here
  • To find out where people recommending you should send these reference forms, please speak with the CISV volunteer coordinating the program you are applying to lead — Emilia Askari ( for the Mongolia Interchange and Mary Harper ( for a Village camp.

Overnight  CISV experience

In addition, all applicants are required to attend an overnight Selection Minicamp organized by CISV Detroit.  Minicamp is an opportunity to taste CISV life and share your ideas about what’s fun and important to you. It’s also a chance for all applicants to meet one another and have fun with other CISV youth. 

Please bring:

  • Sleeping bag, pillow, overnight bag
  • $15 with you to cover costs for mini-camp food and supplies
  • completed application forms, if possible
  • your enthusiasm
  • IDEAS for an activity (Team building, communication, energizers, etc.). You will be placed into groups/partners to plan an activity for all participants.

Lead a camp-based program

Most CISV programs involve camps where delegations of young people from around the world gather. Two of these camp-based programs require the delegations of youth participants to have leaders: Village and Step Up. Village is the first CISV program, with delegations of four 11-year-olds.  Step Up is a program for delegations of four teens.

Lead an Interchange

Interchange is a family-based program that also requires a leader. During Interchange, a leader’s primary focus should be to support and educate six  to twelve Detroit area youth and their Interchange partners from another country.

Both the Detroit delegation and the partner delegation will have a leader and possibly a jr leader who is 18-21. Partner delegates take turns staying in each other’s homes, as do the Interchange leaders.

How Interchange works

In partnership with the partner Interchange leaders, our Detroit Interchange leaders will guide the delegates from both countries in a series of group activities focused on peace through building global friendship. These activities will take place every two or three days during each of the 2.5-week Interchange phases.

Each phase of an Interchange also has a family vacation week when the delegates get out of town with their host families. During this week, our leader and jr leader will go on vacation with their counterparts from the partner country.

Before the Interchange begins, the two leaders discuss and reach agreement on expectations for how elaborate their vacations will be and other details — such as how often you will go out to eat on days when no Interchange activities are scheduled and who will pick up the tab.

Communication responsibilities of CISV leaders

It’s key for any CISV leader to develop good rapport with all the program participants and their families, promoting a group feeling among them. This starts as soon as the delegation is selected in March and continues through the chapter’s Welcome Home Picnic in the fall. Throughout this time, the leader’s main focus is on the youth delegates, with some attention to parents as well.

The chapter program coordinator who selects leaders for a particular program will serve as the leader’s advisor and trouble-shooter throughout the program. During travel, the leader will be expected to communicate weekly with parents back home.

We hope all CISV leaders will continue his or her CISV involvement for at least the year, attending our chapter’s Welcome Back picnic in September plus at least one more post-program activity with the delegation and parents. Help would also be welcome recruiting future CISV leaders and delegates and promoting CISV in the community.

More about Interchange

Interchange leaders must communicate with a few more people than leaders of other CISV programs. Before the Interchange begins, the leader  will communicate with the leaders of the partner delegation, complying with requests and time frames established by the chapter’s local Interchange coordinator.

During the travel phase of the Interchange, our leaders will communicate weekly with families in Detroit and respond within two days to inquiries from those parents, calling on Detroit’s Interchange coordinator for help if necessary. Our chapter’s Interchange communication policy outlines our expectations for delegates and parents as well.

After each phase of the Interchange, our leader will work with our Detroit Interchange coordinators to complete forms required by CISV and submit them on time. Our leader also will give an accounting of emergency monies that the leader carries when the Detroit delegation travels.

If you’d like more information about Interchange, please download the 154-page  Interchange Programme Guide, which is used in training Interchange leaders. In addition, we welcome your help finding youth who want to be delegates in these Interchanges.


For questions about leading the Mongolia Interchange, please contact Emilia Askari at

For questions about leading a camp-based program, please contact Mary Harper at

The photo at the top of this page is of Medellin, Colombia, one of our 2018 Village destinations. The photo was made by Jan Beck and shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.