Host Family Info


The Basics:

Here are the basics of how the Ulster Project works.  Sometime in late June, we bring over a dozen teens from Northern Ireland.  We place them with local families who have a teen of approximately the same age, same sex, and as much as possible – same religion.  The ideal mix of the group is as follows:

US Teens

  • 12 teens total = 6 Protestants/6 Catholics (equally split between boys and girls)
  • 2 college-age counselors (must be 21 or older) – one male/one female
  1. Irish Teens
  • 12 teens total = 6 Protestants/6 Catholics (equally split between boys and girls)
  • 2 college-age counselors (must be 21 or older) – one male/one female

So we end up with a group of 24 teens equally split between boys and girls and split between Protestants and Catholics, plus the 4 young adult Counselors.

We also have an adult coordinator who attends every activity – just in case someone is injured, or some issue comes up that the Counselors aren’t prepared to handle.

So, this means we need to recruit a dozen host US Host Families every year.   If you have an older child who would like to apply as a counselor, please contact the Host Family Committee for a Counselor application.

Requirements for Host Teens/Families

  • The preferred age is 15 years old, but we will accept applications from teens 14-16 years old.
  • Must be from a Protestant or Catholic family (we are not able to accept LDS teens at this time).
  • Must be in relatively good health – we do lots of hiking, river rafting and outdoor activities.
  • Must be of good Christian character and be comfortable in a large group (shy is OK, but if your teen would be uncomfortable in a large group like this, they might not want to apply).
  • Families must be of good Christian character and can provide references and participate in an in-home interview with both the teen and the parents. The N. Irish parents are entrusting their children to you, so we have to ensure that the home is a safe and caring environment for them.
  • Families must be willing and able to transport both the teens to daily activities during the Project time-frame. The Host Family Committee is usually able to help arrange carpooling between families, and we have had many families with dual-working parents and it usually works out just fine.
  • Families must provide proof of insurance. Just normal car and home insurance, just in case, but the N. Irish teens will have their own medical insurance for emergencies.

Time Commitment

The Ulster Project requires an exclusive commitment for the four weeks the Northern Irish teens are here.  Your teen will not be able to participate in Scouts, cheerleading, football, or youth group whatever other extracurricular activities they are involved in.

The month goes by so quickly and the group becomes extremely close, so they would miss your teen if they had to miss a day.  Naturally, if one of your teens is ill, they are excused, but we do ask for a firm commitment from beginning to end and full participation as much as possible.  Fortunately, most coaches and other leaders are usually very understanding about excusing the teens for this time period.

The exact Project dates won’t be set until sometime in 1st Quarter 2016.  It depends on school holidays, weekends, and when we can arrange for various activities, but generally it runs from the last week in June to the first three weeks of July.  We will announce when the exact dates have been set.  See sample calendar for more details.


This is usually a surprise to most families, but the cost to the US Teens is very minimal.  The fees for all Project activities are covered through Corporate grants or other fundraising activities by the Utah Ulster Project.  The River Trip is free, Lagoon is free, Boondocks, museums, Camp Tuttle, it’s all covered….

However, Host Families will have some incidental costs during the month.  You are feeding and housing an extra teen for a month and if you get a boy…..  Well, you might see a big jump in your grocery bill.  The kids normally pack lunches every day.  A bit of extra gas to transport the teens, and you may be asked to bring some food for the River Trip.  And some spending money for your teen – the N. Irish kids come prepared with their own spending money and usually do quite a bit of shopping for gifts and items not available back home.

Your pay for all this – is a single rose from your Irish teen at the closing ceremonies and most host parents count that as payment in full.

See our donation page if you are interested in making a donation to the Ulster Project of Utah.

Application Process

The Host Family Committee recruits families from a variety of places around the valley.  We do presentations at Judge Memorial, Juan Diego and we are hoping to add Intermountain Christian School this year.  We also visit a number of youth groups around the valley, and we usually get some recommendations or even brothers and sisters from previous Host Families.  More than one family has had four or five of their children involved in the project either as participants and/or counselors.  That demonstrates what a positive experience this is for both the families and the teens.

The Host Family Committee receives a one-page application form with basic contact info.  We then touch base with the parents by phone or Email to determine if the project is a good fit and if the family is available for the required dates.  If everything looks good, then the family is invited to fill out a more detailed Match Form and are scheduled for their in-home interview.

Once all the Match forms are received and the interviews are complete, the Host Family Committee sits down for the difficult task of selecting the applicants for the year.  The determining criteria is mainly if we feel the teen is going to do well in the group and make a harmonious fit.  And also that the family is going to be a safe and happy place for the visiting teen to stay.

Sometime after that, we received the Match Forms for the N. Irish teens and we schedule the “Match Meeting”.  We do our very best to match up the teen pairs based on their interests, personality types, and just our feeling of which teen is going to be a great fit with which family.  Per nationwide Ulster Project policy, the matches are not announced until June 1st.

Here is a very rough time-line of how the process works

Jan – Feb:  Visit schools and youth groups to obtain applicants and begin talking to potential host families

March:  Complete Match Forms and in-home Interviews.  Hopefully will have the selection meeting at the end of the month or early in April.

April/May:  Announce US Teen selections

June 1st:  Matches are announced.  At this point, the teens are permitted to begin Facebooking, Snapchatting, or whatever teens are doing these days and the parents are encouraged to get acquainted with the N. Irish parents.  Everyone is very excited to get to know everyone else.

End of June:  Showtime!  The teens arrive and the project kicks off for a month of fun.

End of July: Time for tearful (very tearful!) goodbyes and the Project is closed for the year.