MANCHESTER — For many, a warm, sunny day on the sand listening to the ocean crashagainst the shore is the ultimate vacation. But not for G. Angharad Fychan from Wales.
"Sitting on the beach is not my kind of holiday," said Angharad, a participant in the International 4-H Youth Exchange program. "I hate just going around and staying in hotels. You justdon't get to know the culture then."
Angharad, 18, is a five-year member of the Young Farmers Clubs inWales. She has participated in exchange programs to Argentina and Finland and has traveled to Germany and France.
This summer, she's spending six weeks in Maryland, staying with 4-H families. The first two weeks, July 3-18, she's staying at the 50-acre farm of Tony and Ann Kaminski, who live north of here.
"We enjoy sharing our ways andlearning their ways," said Ann, 44, adding that the family, active in 4-H for 14 years, has had exchange students before.
When 4-H extension agent Robert M. Shirley called two days before Angharad arrived, the family agreed to be her host.
"They were looking for a family quickly," Ann said. "I just needed enough time to dust and run to the cleaners and make sure everything was presentable."
Richard R.Angus, the state 4-H program specialist, said the reason for the last-minute placement was that the original county planning to host Angharad was unable to find a host family.
The county's programmers found families for only one of the five youngsters visiting Maryland from England and Wales this summer.
The county, which Angus would not name, notified him of the problem a week before the exchangees arrived in Maryland. Despite the scrambling for lodging and the uncertainty of her plans, Angharad said she has enjoyed her stay.
"It's great so far," she said. "It's just totally different from my homeland. Everything is approached in a different way."
The towns are biggerand the buildings taller than anything in Wales, Angharad said. Sneakers and jeans cost about half as much as in Wales, she said, adding that she has picked up a pair of Reebok shoes.
There also are differences between the two youth organizations.
"It's totally different from the 4-H," she said of Young Farmers Clubs. "It's more like a socializing club. It's not as educational. We do learn things, (but) the learning doesn't come first there."
The 60 members in Angharad's club -- called Tal-Y-Bont in her native language of Welsh -- meet once a week to swim, go to health clubs, hear lectures or participatein other activities.
"There's something for everyone," she said, including public speaking, drama, cookery and woodworks. Last year, as secretary of the club, Angharad was responsible for scheduling events.
But projects, which make up the bulk of 4-H activities, are not part of the program in England or Wales, Angharad said. Nor do the Young Farmers show animals.
"Most of the members live on farms anyway," said Angharad, whose family lives on 100 acres. "So they carry on with the animals at home."
Another disparity between the organizations is the age requirement. In Maryland, 4-H'ers range from 8 to 21, while Young Farmers may be between 10 and 26. And in Maryland, parents are more involved.
"We just carry on ourselves," Angharad said. "But if we need any help we contact the leaders. They're just involved if we ask them
to be involved. Most of them have been members themselves so they're quite willing to help."
After hearing about the differences in the programs, the Kaminski children were split on which club sounded like more fun.
"I probably like it here better because of the animals," 11-year-old Mary said.
But her brother,Stephan, 15, disagreed: "I would probably rather have it like they do over there."
As a member of Young Farmers, Angharad has won awards in several competitions, including public speaking. She also playsthe piano, violin, sings and enjoys cooking.
After Angharad leaves Carroll, she will visit Baltimore County and the Eastern Shore.