Opportunities for Under 18 | Volunteering and Exchanges Abroad


Volunteering abroad can be a life-changing experience, even for young people under 18.

In the past articles we talked about opportunities for those aged 18 and over, but there are numerous opportunities specifically designed for minors.

In fact, these opportunities allow them to immerse themselves in new cultures, develop skills, and make a difference in the world.

If you are under 18 and passionate about helping others, determined to enhance your skills through educational programmes, or want to explore new countries, there are various options available.

So, keep reading to some of the best opportunities for volunteering abroad for minors!

Youth Exchanges 

Youth exchanges under the Erasmus+ programme allow groups of young people from different European countries to meet for a short period, ranging from 5 days to 2 weeks.

  • Who can participate? 
    • Projects involve young people aged 13 to 30, with particular attention to those with fewer economic or social opportunities. In particular, participants must reside in an EU member country or a non-EU country participating in the programme. English proficiency is not required as participants will be also supported by trained youth workers and group leaders.

  • What it involves?
    • During youth exchanges, participants live together and engage in activities organised by the hosting association. Activities also include creative workshops, simulations, icebreaker games, outdoor activities, group discussions, and artistic projects, all based on non-formal and informal education methods.

  • Objectives
    • Promote intercultural dialogue and European identity;

    • Develop young people’s skills and attitudes;

    • Strengthen European values and break down prejudices and stereotypes;

    • Increase awareness of socially relevant issues, encouraging engagement in society and active participation in democratic life.

  • How much does it costs?
    • Erasmus+ covers 100% of the exchange expenses, including accommodation and meals for the duration of the exchange. Travel expenses are also reimbursed up to a set limit, which varies by project. The only costs sometimes are the membership fees for the association organising the exchange (usually between 20 and 60 euros). Furthermore, at the end of the exchange, each participant receives a Youthpass certificate, documenting the non-formal and informal learning experience and achievements.

Volunteer camps for minors

Volunteer camps typically last around two weeks and can be in different countries, even outside Europe. These camps allow young people to engage in non-profit social activities and meet people from around the world, fostering values of dialogue, coexistence, and peace.

  • Activities
    • Participants engage in community-based projects, social activities, and environmental conservation. These camps require a small additional contribution to cover the costs of professional tutors.

  • Where to find them:
    1. European Youth Portal: Offers numerous volunteering and exchange opportunities tailored for young Europeans, including volunteer camps.

    2. Service Civil International (SCI): Provides short-term and long-term volunteer projects for young people, promoting peace and intercultural understanding.

    3. CISV International: Organises educational programs and camps that inspire action for a more just and peaceful world.

School Year abroad

These programmes allow participants to spend a period abroad, living with a host family and attending a local school. Some institutions offer specialised programmes for young people wishing to spend a semester or a school year abroad.

One example could be the AFS Intercultural Programs provide intercultural learning opportunities through high school exchange programs, volunteer placements, and host family stays.

Additional resources

  • Eurodesk: Provides information on European mobility opportunities for young people, including exchanges and scholarships.
  • EYP (European Youth Parliament): Offers educational programs and events for young people to engage in European issues and develop intercultural understanding.
  • Youth for Understanding (YFU): Offers intercultural exchange programs for high school students, where they live with host families and attend local schools in another country.
  • Rotary Youth Exchange: Provides long-term (up to a year) and short-term (several weeks) exchange programs for students to experience life in a different country by living with host families.
  • The Experiment: Provides cultural exchange programs where high school students live with host families and participate in community projects abroad.


As we’ve seen, there are different opportunities for young people under 18 to engage in meaningful volunteer work and exchanges abroad. These experiences can be incredibly enriching, providing valuable skills, cultural insights, and lifelong memories.

What do you think? Would you like to participate in one of these programs, or do you know of any others?

Let us know in the comments!


Finally, if you are turning 30 or more, check out our article on volunteering options for adults!


Read also

Finding Your Perfect Internship Abroad | Step-by-Step Guide

Travel Europe for Free | The Best Opportunities for Young Travellers

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