What to Ask When Choosing Summer Travel Programs
Choosing the right summer travel programs for high school students can be an overwhelming experience for many parents. After all, you are putting your trust in the hands of new people in places that are often far off the beaten path in distant corners of the world. Asking the right questions can help alleviate many of these concerns and allow your teenager to embark on a life changing experience and leave parents with peace of mind at the same time. Here are some questions that you should ask and know the answer to before you send your child overseas or even across the country.
What kind of projects will my child be participating in? Will they be pulling weeds, cleaning up trash, helping patients in a clinic, teaching local children or all of these? Knowing who benefits from the volunteer work can not only help determine what kind of impact is being made on the local community but also what kind of impact it will have on the camper.
Has the company worked with the scheduled project(s) before? Is there a service curriculum? Are the students briefed, facilitated and debriefed as to the service project? Being immersed in a new culture can be overwhelming, it’s important that campers learn about local customs and the challenges local communities are facing before they start their project so that they can fully absorb the benefit of their work and the impact they are making.
How big is the group? Who is in charge of the students? Are they used to dealing with teenagers? Are they comfortable with teenagers in a community service work setting? Group dynamics are a vital part of creating the positive experience. Group leaders that are used to working with and have training mentoring teens are essential. Look for leader to student ratios of no more than 1:9 so that each camper gets the attention and experience they deserve.
Will students stay in the same location on the same project the entire time, getting to know villagers in this “home away from home”? Or will they be moving around? While many people want to be able to take in a whole country or region during their time at camp, you don’t want your camper to be spending all of their time getting from place to place. Make sure that there is plenty of time spent on the ground and there is opportunity for them to immerse themselves in places and people they are visiting during their summer travel program.
What are the safety protocols? What happens if a camper gets injured? How do you make sure that the places you are visiting are safe? Make sure that the summer travel program is focused on safety is of primary importance. Check that each day is thoroughly planned out well in advance of departure and ask questions about areas and locations that concern you. Leaders should have some level of first aid training so that they are able to respond to any needs as they arise. There can be vast differences between different first aid certifications (WFA or WFR for example) and the training and the requirements to obtain them so make sure to know or ask about the differences.
Service travel is an incredible impactful way to spend a summer. Campers form incredible bonds with their peers in places they have only seen in pictures, gain broad new perspective and make a difference in the world at the same time. By being armed with the right questions, you can ensure the best possible service travel experience for your teenager and a bit of piece of mind for yourself while they are abroad.
ARCC Programs has offered summer travel programs for teens for over 30 years. With programs on six continents, there is something for everyone. Find a summer program on our website or request a catalog today.