Children's International Summer Villages (CISV)

Outside the Bay Area, CA
Travel & Foreign Service
School-Aged, Preteens, Teens

Parent Reviews

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Archived Reviews: 

March 2004

Children's International Summer Village (CISV) is looking for one more boy age 12 -15 to join a delegation going to Prague. Students will travel to the Czech Republic for 2-3 weeks this summer, staying with host families as well as being host to a Czech student here. Please e-mail me at if you are interested. sarah waggoner gbogus at

March 2004

When our daughter was 11-1/2 (1997), she went on a CISV trip. (CISV - Childrens International Summer Villages was begun by an Ohio woman in the 1950's in response to WWII. Her hope was that by bringing children from different countries together for one month, to learn about each others' cultures, they would be less likely to grow up to make war on each other. A laudable goal.) Unfortunately, while there, her leader (a 40 year old man) licked her arm (yes, licked her arm) on a couple of different occasions. He was also involved romantically with the director of the camp (he's married). When my husband and I found all this out after their return and complained to CISV, they conducted what they considered a reasonable investigation: they questioned the director of the camp, who said my daughter's leader was just fine (duh, what else would she say....), and that the problem people were my daughter and her friend who had used bad language (I'm not condoning foul language; I hardly think it compares to adults violating children's boundaries). Needless to say, that was the end of our association with that organization, which was pretty disappointing - our daughter had really enjoyed most aspects of her time at the camp. We were too disturbed that the folks in charge of CISV in the Bay Area did not find this behavior appalling. But that leader, like most adults who are inappropriate with children, was very charming - a Pied Piper they called him. What I also know today is that fingerprints and background checks only uncover offenders who've been prosecuted. People like that leader are under the radar... anon

Hi, last summer I was a delegation leader for Children's International Summer Village (CISV) to Egypt. I had an amazing experience, as did the four 13-year children on the trip. It sounds like the anonymous writer in the last edition had a negetive experience with the organization. I was sorry to hear that. At the same time I have to say my experiences with CISV, an all volunteer run organization with international chapters, has been positive. CISV does a great job of fostering youth leadership, promoting intercultural friendship and understanding, and finding reputable adults to make sure the trips are safe! Check out the website at Shana

I am responding to the anonymous posting about CISV last week- we were sorry to hear that you were unsatisfied with the follow-up in 1997. We extend reinforced apologies now. One change we've made since is for our training to put greater emphasis on caution where actions might create unease or be misinterpreted, both of which happed here. We select leaders carefully, we train them well and we research their backgrounds in the same way schools do for teachers. Our leaders are dedicated volunteers, and many are the area's best teachers. CISV delegate preparation includes meetings before travel, so families get to know the leader well. Villages are supervised by 15-18 adults, not just the one leader, thereby ensuring good support for each child. These are also our children: Believe me, as CISV parents, we focus intensely on their safety. David Hansen Pres, CISV SF Bay Area Chapter

I am glad to hear that screening may have improved with CISV. I will say, however, that the leader in question was a teacher of at-risk middle schoolers, so no doubt his school district had done a background check. My daughter and her friend had been uncomfortable when he hugged them during the planning process; at a meeting he agreed not to hug/touch them and they decided to go ahead with the trip because, just as Mr. Hansen stated, there would be many other leaders at the camp. When at camp, however, he was inappropriate anyway. The most important lesson I learned through this experience was to trust my own gut: I too had been uncomfortable with this man, but when I questioned the other parents they thought he was just fine. So I ignored my own feelings and went along with the crowd, as it were, only to be very sorry later. We as parents need to trust ourselves, and sometimes even as adults it's difficult to be different. anon

Jan 2002

Children's International Summer Villages ( has space available in two travel programs this summer. The Interchage program is looking for boys who will be 13 or 14 in 2002 for it's exchange program to Thailand. A group of ten kids will go to Thailand during spring break this April and live with host families. The Thai brothers and sisters will come live with their American counterparts for a couple of weeks this summer. My family has been involved with CISV for several years now, and it is a fantastic program. It is a true exchange - the whole family is involved in hosting the visiting child as one of their own, both here and in the exchange country. If you are at all interested, please inquire immediately, as there is an interview process, passports to be dealt with, etc. For more info, contact the trip organizer, Brenda Taussig, at rtaussig [at] The Village program is looking for girls, age 11. 11-year-olds from all over the world stay together in a camp for three weeks in the summer. I'm not sure which country, I believe it is England this year. For more info, contact the trip organizer, Tara Kyle, at krkyle [at] -Katherine

From: Jane (Dec 1999)


  Children as Ambassadors for Peace Next Summer  I wanted to tell you about a well-hidden Bay Area secret, the Children's International Summer Villages (CISV), in case you know children or teens who would be interested in unique and life changing experiences this summer. There may also be openings for adult leaders for one or more of these programs.  Please pass on this information to anyone you know in the wider Bay Area who might gain from the opportunities described below.  CISV creates international experiences for children and teens that enlarge their vision of both their world and their opportunities to contribute, as well as give them skills in dealing with people across cultures. This summer it will have three sets of programs out of the Bay Area for 11 year olds, 13 year olds and 14-15 year olds.  CISV was a vision of Dr. Doris T. Allen, a University of Cincinnati psychologist.  After World War II, seeing the devastation created by war, Dr. Allen believed that education for peace should start before adolescence and continue into adulthood.  CISV is a unique, non-profit, non-political volunteer organization that offers children and adults the opportunity to make new friendships worldwide and to understand and appreciate differing cultures.  CISV is one of a select number of international exchange programs approved by the Council on Standards for International Education Travel and is the only program offering international experiences for children as young as eleven.  Trained leaders accompany all delegations.  The organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.  The San Francisco chapter started 18 years ago and hundreds of Bay Area children and teens have participated in programs. CISV now has chapters in 67 countries and 20 chapters in the USA.  CISV's unique mode of organizing keeps costs well below that of other international programs, less even than many domestic summer camps.  This summer's programs include:  * For 11 year olds, Villages where they share a month of intense cross-cultural friendship building with 48 children and their leaders from 12 countries.  CISV Bay Area will send 11-year olds this summer to Brazil, El Salvador and Sweden.  For more information contact Richelle Milton (rmilton [at] or 510-651-4552).  * For 13 year olds, Summer Camps where, for three weeks, teens learn both leadership skills and explore cultural differences among delegates from 12 countries.  This summer the Bay Area will send delegates to the fjords of Norway.  For more information contact Radhika Modi (rmodi [at] or 510-651-7989).  * For 14 and 15 year olds, CISV has Interchange programs, which are reciprocal exchanges between two countries stretching over two summers. During the first summer, one country's delegation of ten teens and a leader visit the second country, where they stay with a partner's family and meet for frequent group events.  The next summer, the other delegation travels and the hosting is reversed.  This summer the Bay Area chapter will start two interchanges.  It is privileged to participate in the first ever CISV Interchange Program with the People's Republic of China.  A second delegation will travel to Germany.  Note that interchangers this year will get special training, useful for a lifetime, in conflict resolution techniques.  For more information contact Don or Marsha (donsq [at] or 510-656-5041).  To be eligible, delegates must be of the required age for at least a day of June, July or August 2000, and they must live within approximately an hour of the Bay Area.  CISV would like your application by December 31. 

For additional information, the CISV San Francisco web address is