The number of countries visited by each group varies by tour. Some tours highlight several unique regions of a single country while others will visit more than one country. The invitation, planning, and confirmation process of our host communities is of the utmost importance for the Blue Lake International Exchange Program, which is committed to offering an unparalleled experience for students. Therefore, detailed travel itineraries are not distributed until spring of the touring year, after the International staff confirms all arrangements with the hosting communities. Blue Lake ensembles visit approximately five communities on their tour along with several group excursions to culturally significant sites along the way. Visit bluelake.org/international/pasttours to see where we’ve been on past tours.
All Blue Lake summer camp and tour alumni are eligible for a scholarship toward their tuition. In addition, limited scholarships may be available based upon artistic merit or instrumentation needs. All families are eligible for an additional discount if their tuition is paid in full at the time of enrollment. Outside fundraising efforts by participants are highly encouraged. If a student requires a letter of support for fundraising, the Director of International Tours will be able to provide them with one.
Students travelling internationally need well-developed decision-making skills. Because they will be staying in private homes, students should also have excellent manners, a willingness to try new things (including new foods), and should have strong self-care and time-management skills. Due to the fluid natural of travel—and international travel in particular—students need to be flexible, take direction willingly, and remain open-minded about new experiences, schedule changes, and unfamiliar circumstances. The International Tour schedule is rigorous, and successful participants are able to exhibit the same level of maturity and friendliness when fully rested as they are when tired. Students who struggle with missing home and/or students who are still learning to manage their mental health may find the tour to be challenging. Blue Lake International students are cultural ambassadors for the camp, their home states, and the United States while they are abroad. Maturity, self-confidence, and friendliness are the hallmarks of a student who is ready for tour.
Blue Lake International ensembles are hosted by various musical organizations, schools, churches, or town councils. Host families are identified by the hosting representative, who is often a key leader within these various organizations. Organization members, families, and personal friends of Blue Lake’s hosting committee serve as host families for our students. In most cases, students are paired with families who have children of similar age, gender, artistic endeavors, and interests.
The Blue Lake International Exchange Program offers a flexible attendance policy, which is outlined in the invitation and contract materials. However, most schools are willing to make special arrangements during end of year activities in order for full attendance at Blue Lake rehearsals. Most schools recognize the value of the International Program experience and permit students to have an alternate end of year schedule. Blue Lake recommends discussing arrangements with your school during the enrollment period.
Students will be expected to wear the Blue Lake blue uniform during air and ground travel, rehearsals, and during group sightseeing excursions. When they are performing, they are expected to wear the unique white International formal uniform. At all other times with host families, students may wear non-uniform clothing. A detailed uniform and appearance policy will be provided with the Participation Agreement.
Student participants may travel with a personal cell phone, provided they use it according to the International Exchange Program’s written policy. Students are expected to exhibit outstanding maturity and manners at all times on tour. Therefore, students must limit phone use to times when it is not a distraction from host family activities, group travel, scheduled events, or other times designated by tour staff. More information on Blue Lake International’s behavioral expectations, including our cell phone policy, will be provided upon enrollment.
We expect that families in the Blue Lake International Program will help to host a European Camper as part of their Exchange Program experience. Our European host families generously open their homes to our students, and we aim to open our homes to their students just as willingly. Welcoming an exchange student into your home is an excellent way to extend your International experience and continue your student’s exposure to different languages and cultures. Most importantly, this cultural exchange is part of a legacy stretching back more than 50 years, and is a small way for our participants to give back to the communities that welcomed them in Europe. Hosting a European exchange student includes either dropping them off or picking them up from a Blue Lake session, providing housing and hospitality for 3–5 days, and showing them the best in American culture. More information about hosting details will be made available upon enrollment.