Doris Allen, the founder of CISV, has developed the CISV programs based on principles of developmental psychology. New findings lead to ongoing improvements in the concepts. The result is programs that provide children and adolescents with age-appropriate development opportunities. Each program tracks program goals that fit the age group. The participants approach the set goals in "CISV Activities" (also "Content Activities") and "Fun Activities". All activities are properly prepared and age-appropriate.
- The youngest are to be led to an open togetherness, courage to cross-cultural contacts, deal with the "big wide world". Their activities are planned by the adults (Leader and Staff) in the program, the JCs relax the program with cheerful intermediate activities.
- The older the adolescents are, the more CISV promotes self-reliance. The programs promote cooperation, foresight, engagement and critical engagement. In the case of 12-15 year-olds, the adults accompany the planning and support the young people, but are less and less often in charge of designing the details.
- The elders (over 16) plan their programs themselves. They know their goals and work together to achieve those goals. The adults are only responsible for the organization, and of course are contact persons and supporters in difficult situations.
Development works best when learners are in a positive, happy mood. Doris Allen knew that. Therefore, inspirational, joyful, relaxing, energizing elements are integral parts of CISV programs. Time and again, there are "energizers" that are fun and encourage young people to interact informally. In "Free Time", everyone can recharge their batteries in their own way - while playing sports together or by retreating to a quiet spot. And because music connects, there are often "lullabies", evening sing-along sessions.
Electronic devices are perceived by CISV to be an obstacle to communication. Therefore, our programs are mobile and computer free.