Decades of International Friendship

Founded in 1969 by Gretchen Stansell, wife of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp’s founder Fritz Stansell and member of its Board of Trustees, the Blue Lake International Exchange Program is dedicated to international understanding through the universal language of the arts. Since its inception, nearly 30,000 young European, Asian, and American artists have exchanged performances and experienced the love, wonder, and excitement of living with host families in a foreign land. More than 115,000 families in Europe and America have provided generous hospitality for these participants. Countless concert-goers on both continents have been touched by these young ambassadors.

Students who show maturity, strong interpersonal skills, artistic ability, and an eagerness to learn about new cultures and countries are accepted in the program and act as goodwill ambassadors while touring in Europe, representing their schools, communities, Blue Lake, and the United States. Travel with Blue Lake's International Exchange Program provides an opportunity for students to truly experience the history, culture, and charm of each European region and community. More than 200 students participate in the program annually, comprising four performing ensembles (orchestra, choir, band, and jazz band). Each group embarks upon a month long tour of Europe, staying exclusively with host families, and collectively performing in nearly 30 European communities each summer.

In turn for their generous hospitality, each European community visited by Blue Lake is invited to send a performing ensemble to the Midwest for a two-week tour under the auspices of the International Exchange Program. In addition, the Blue Lake International Exchange Program awards special scholarships to each community so that young European artists can experience American culture as they attend Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and then stay with American host families.

Since the beginning of the program, Blue Lake International has visited more than 1,700 communities in nineteen different countries. Additionally, Blue Lake has welcomed thousands of visiting European and Asian campers and performing groups as a part of this unique exchange program. We are grateful to our many European partners and American hosts for their generous hospitality and continued support of our mission.