WELCOME: 36 students met in Airlie Beach for the Lions International Youth Exchange program.
WELCOME: 36 students met in Airlie Beach for the Lions International Youth Exchange program. Shannen McDonald

Broadening their horizons

THIRTY-SIX students from 18 countries met in Australia to experience some of the best wonders this country has to offer.

Student involved in the Lions International Youth Exchange program recently spent eight days in the Whitsundays, based at Camp Kanga, near Lake Proserpine.

Opened to students aged 16 to 10, members from the Bowen, Proserpine and Whitsunday Lions Clubs provided the students with some once-in-a-life time opportunities.

After being billeted out to families around Australia, the exchange students came together last week at Camp Kanga to experience the Whitsundays.

Activities including a day at Horseshoe Bay and sightseeing in Bowen, water sports on Lake Proserpine, ocean rafting and a personal experience with Australian Wildlife at Bredl's Wild Farm.

Spending their last full day of the camp in Airlie Beach, the students took part in scenic flights, jet skiing and paddle boarding before enjoying a lunch on the new foreshore.

Exchange student Jenny Suokas, 16, from Finland said she applied for the exchange after seeing an ad on Facebook.

"It's interesting to me to get to Australia as it's as far away as I can travel from Finland," she told the Whitsunday Times.

"My family doesn't want to travel this far so I will probably never have this opportunity to come to Australia again."

Funding her trip through working part-time and a little help from Grandma, Jenny said she's enjoyed her time in Australia.

"I don't really miss my family, but I do miss my dog - I've really enjoyed it here in Australia, but it will be nice to get back to Finland."

Lions international register director Irene Braddick said the camp allows students to meet and make friends from around the world.

"The point of this program is to foster a spirit of understanding amongst the people of the world," she said.

"They get to meet all these different people and they will be mates forever now."