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eftours for students

Old Mar 6th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Beatle--We had Cristina in Greece (fabulous person, well-educated, etc. ) and Giuseppe in London and Paris. He supposedly lives in London and I swear he had never been to Paris before our trip...I have last names somewhere if you need....I blocked his out of my mind because everytime I think about him my blood pressure goes sky high!
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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I had a chance to spend some time recently with the woman who organized the EF Tour I went on.

She has since taken three other tours. Two were fine and one was NOT good. The one that was NOT good was the 'stock' tour out of thier book.... live and learn.

Based on her expereinces my very strong suggestion for any of these companies is to make sure you aren't getting the "canned" tour.

The woman who organized the tours I am familar with knew nothing about traveling to Europe, but has managed to arrage three good tours. She, like Beatle, is very demanding before she signs the contract. Hotels are determined and discussed, guides are discussed etc. Now it costs more to do it her way which is the "custom tour", but she has 24 on a bus that hold 50 so the participants can spread out and the hotels/food is better. (It is not great, but since teenage Girl Scouts seem to live on a diet of Hamburgers when faced with ANTHING unusual it works)

I will take issue with the person who implied that I would rather take teens becuase they are not as likely to complain... I travel with Girl Scouts... They COMPLAIN, maybe it's that independence training we give them. I took 10 to Europe last Summer (I did the tour, no company) Trust me, silent and submissive is not thier style, but we had a great time. (Actually our hotel in Paris was probably a step below the one I stayed at with EF Tours. EFTours had private baths, I stuck them in a bath down the hall deal!)

She has also "left" some adults at tour sites. After her first tour she laid down the law, if you were over 18 and you missed the bus figure out what to do. If you were under 18 and you missed the bus she would deal with you. (Once was a chewing out, twice was a plane trip home at your parent's expense.... she's never left a girl)
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Old Mar 7th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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I apologize guys, I should have made my response more clear.

You face no larger chance of being sued if the trip is district sponsored or non district sponsored as long as you have the correct forms. Everything is an assessment of risk. (We all know a child is more likely to traveling to school than traveling on an airplane.)

Of course, in our "sue happy" country (one of the reasons I left the practice of law), you could be sued for almost anything. All any lawyer can do is minimize the risk.

For example, when you buy a ticket to a sports event, it warns you that you may get hurt by being a spectator. Does that mean that they never get sued when it does happen? No, but 99.9% of the time a person will not be successful in this endeavor.

If people could not be fairly confident that any lawsuit against them would be unsuccessful, then we would not have live, spectator sporting events, we would never go on ANY field trips, etc...

Finally, as far as the minor situation goes, the parents, as legal guardians of their children, sign the forms. I have the students sign as well just to be thorough.

I hope this has cleared up any misunderstanding from my prior posting. In America there is no such thing as being "sue-proof" - you just limit your liability as best you can.
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Old Mar 7th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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For all my Girl Scout trips I have both the parents and Girls sign everything ESPECIALLY the behavior contract. (I don't want any girl telling me that I did not CLEARLY explain the rules....) Yes, the girl contract won't hold up in court, but the parent one might and that's not the real point... the point is to make sure the rules are clear and understood.

I have only sent a girl home on a trip once and that was a unique experience. (I inhertited
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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Wondering and ebflo (or anyone else who has been on Explorica student tours), would you mind elaborating a little bit on your experiences, especially if you've done the Spanish language program in Marbella, Spain? My boss is thinking of sending her daughter, but she doesn't want her to end up staying in any dodgy hotels or hostels...and she also wants to be sure that the supervision is reliable and that the students are not left to gallivant around Marbella after hours! Please feel free to email me if you prefer.

Thanks in advance for any assistance!
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 05:04 PM
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Quills - Explorica is using Enforex and I think this is the first year for their trip/language combos. You can book through them much cheaper yourself. If she is traveling with a teacher from her school, then the teacher will be in charge. Explorica will not ever be in charge of the students as they are just a tour company.
www.enforex.com

My daughter's AP high school Spanish teacher took a group to one of Enforex's schools in Salamanca every summer because Salamanca is supposed to have the purest dialect. They usually stayed 2 weeks at the school and one week traveling. They stayed in apartments with other students and were very independent. She thought very highly of the courses Enforex offered.

My daughter is currently living with a family in Madrid while attending 2 universities there. She says teenagers in Madrid are much more independent at an earlier age than in the US. Adults in Spain will not expect high school students to need chaperones.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 04:39 PM
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We did not do a language tour so I guess I wouldn't be help on that note. All I will say is we NEVER received any satisfaction from Explorica after the spring trip from hell. Yet they STILL keep trying to get me to use them again. NEVER!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 09:11 AM
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Hi, I am a teacher in Boston, but ages ago was a tour guide throughout Europe. I worked for most of the major student tour companies and I have to say that it is all about the teachers leading the group. Those who complain about there only being 10 min at Notre Dame...that is your teacher's fault for not communicating with the guide. All of the guides I have worked with since becoming a teacher/leader have had the same mantra as I did when I was a leader "keep them happy." Not just for the tip, but because its Karma.

I now use EF exclusively for travel because they are the cheapest. (thank you so much to the poster who pointed out that teachers should go for free, we earn the trips, even the best kids have some challenges). What I do is email with the guide once one is assigned. We work out what the kids want to do; soccer game in Rome with local kids, which museums are important, etc. The more kids know about the destination, the better...also, avoid "10 cities in 10 days!" That is just insanity and should never be attempted. EF trips are to introduce kids to international travel, its not for folks accustomed to maid service. It is a huge step up from staying in hostels (my intro to traveling) and I really think that EF's hotels are getting better and better. Then again, having led almost 10 trips with them, I know that I get good service, that they give me the highest rated guides, etc.

My requests are always to stay in the city, except in Amsterdam... Then again, know that city hotels are not as nice as the suburban ones of the same cost. This is also true in Boston, NYC, any city across the globe. In regards to adults, I don't bring them. Kids are great, they are flexible, excited to see new things/meet new people, try adventures. Adults are just the opposite. If you get together a large enough group 25+ you get your own bus, this is the greatest for flexibility. Drivers will work with you, they are working for their tip, and can be paid to do extra outings... I was stuck with some obese middle aged midwesterners in Gay Pride Munich last year and they were complaining that it was EF's fault there was a parade of drag queens. My kids loved it, not just the gay boys, who doesn't love a parade? The midwesterners were angry about taking the Metro...why go to Paris if you are not going to experience it? My students learned a great deal about the "ugly american" stereotype from sharing a bus with those folks, so I thank them for illustrating so clearly how to not travel. I will never take adults with me.

I enjoy working with EF and am taking kids to China with them in the spring, my advice is to be in contact with your tour guide immediately, know what you/kids want to do, have the kids involved in selecting the itinerary, and clearly communicate your wants/needs/desires to the guide. Their job is to make your trip amazing, but they can only do this if you provide the information. Yes, there are crappy guides out there, but if you tell them what you want, they will probably be relieved at someone taking charge.

Hope that helps/contributes another layer to the discussion.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 04:32 PM
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Excellent post! Exactly to the point as to how to make a tour work for you. The midwest adults part was great and right on the mark.

Baldworth
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 05:30 PM
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I was part of an EF group in June and have to say that overall I was very pleased with the trip. There were some things that weren't so good, but I suspect that would be true of any budget tour company.

We were very lucky in that we had a wonderful tour director. When problems arose, he took care of them and was extremely helpful to any of us who needed assistance. We also had a great bus driver who picked us up in Rome and stayed with us until he dropped us off at the train station in Zurich for the trip to Paris.

We had our own group - 24 students, 4 teachers, and 10 adults who were friends or relatives of the students or teachers. Everything went well. While the teachers didn't over-supervise the kids, they kept an eye on them. It was made clear from the first meeting that drinking would not be allowed even if it legal in Europe for those under 21 because it isn't legal in the US. We ran onto a couple of EF groups in hotels where we stayed that were making fools of themselves.

As we had heard, the hotels we stayed at were often not in the city. The worst was outside of Rome. It was quite a distance into the city and there was nothing around the hotel - no place to get a snack or drink and only one pay phone for everyone to use. They wouldn't let us use the phones in our rooms even with a calling card. The hotels when we visited Florence and Lucerne were both outside the city, but were in much better locations. The hotel in Erstfeld Switzerland served a great dinner each night and evened offered seconds to those still hungry. The hotel in Paris was on the outskirts of the city, but near a Metro station. The hotel in Madrid was also very close to a metro station and an easy walk to the museums and not too far to the center of the city. All of the hotels were clean and met our needs. Only the one in Switzerland didn't have air conditioning.

The food was always edible. Some places were better than others. A few were very good. Most places had breads and cereal for breakfast, although a couple of places only had breads.

The walking tours with our guide were great. He spoke 6 languages fluently so there were never any language problems. We had a tour guide in each of the cities we visited. Some were better than others because of the language. A couple were very hard to understand, especially the woman in Rome.

We spent 2 nights on a train and that was the worst, especially the space with 6 berths. Getting us and all of our luggage in there wasn't easy. Plus the car only had one working bathroom. The longer trip to Madrid only had 4 persons in room and did have a sink to use to wash up and thankfully all of the bathrooms worked.

If you need upscale travel, EF would not be a good choice. But for all of us, except one unhappy adult, we were pleased and had a great time and would go again if the opportunity arises. My friend is the German teacher and she is planning a trip in 2008 to German, Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. There are already 4 adults from this trip who have told her we want to go in 08.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 10:16 PM
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It worries me a bit if one must be thankful for working bathrooms on a tour.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Just picking up this link, but I wanted to respond to an inquiry made in April of this year regarding Explorica and whether they let they the students gallavant around after dark. I'd like to let any concerned parents considering Explorica Summer Academy know about my son's experience.

We booked the "trip of a lifetime" for him this summer with the Summer Academy tour through Europe. I was assured by Explorica staff that the students would have a half hour daily of free time, none after dark, and their guidelines states "all evening activities will be supervised".

The kids were given at least 6 hours a day of totally free unsupervised time in London, Paris and Amsterdam, with several nighttime hours of free time in each of these cities. In Amsterdam, the "chaperone" actually led these 14-15 year olds through the red light district then left them unsupervised on the outskirts! Well, guess what happened? One or two of the kids purchased some laced brownies in one of the stores where they are legal and accessible, brought them back to the hotel, and still unsupervised, shared them with at least 12 kids of the group. When the "chaperone" found out, ten kids were immediately sent home at a huge additional cost to the parents (up to $3500 per flight).

I shared this because parents of both kids who were sent home and those who remained on the tour were outraged that kids this young were given a free for all in these cities, especially Amsterdam of all places. Everyone assumed that "Academy" meant something semi-educational would be happening. Maybe it was just extremely poor judgement on the part of the particular chaperones on this trip, but something really failed here. Yes, the kids made a mistake by eating these "legal" brownies, but Explorica has made a more grievous error by lying about supervision, and the parents are convinced if the promised structure and supervision had been provided this never would have happened. By the way, they did not provide "at least 1 chaperone per 15 students" as their literature states they do.

So beware, any parent considering Explorica Summer Academy!
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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All these posts on the "escorted" European tours for high school students remind me of the "senior trips" to Cancun that kids are always taking. The parents get angry when the kids come home drunk (literally poured off the plane) after a week of bar hopping, pregnant, STD's, broken arms, etc. Many of the parents cheerfully purchase the bracelet that allows their little darling to drink for "free" at any bar on the strip for a week---then they turn around and complain when faced with the consequences of doing so. Other parents are truly clueless and have no idea what is going to happen on these trips. The teachers who go get a free trip for "chaperoning" the kids, like the young English teacher who announced at a bar that she was "commando" and who would like to peek! She couldn't understand why she didn't have control of her classes when school began the next year.

If I were a parent of a student on one of these Euro tours --I hate to say it-- but I probably would want to sue the company.
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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On any given trip, there are kids who misbehave, and kids who behave. The trip is the same for everyone, so the only difference is the kids. And kids tend to behave in the way they are raised. So if a child misbehaves egregiously on his trip, I look first to his parents, not the trip organizers.
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Old Aug 11th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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"The only difference is the kids" --not! The difference is the quality and amount of supervision, as evidenced by yellow24' post and other, similar ones.
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Old Aug 11th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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Anthony~ I respectfully disagree as to all tours being the SAME. The difference between a quality tour and one that is not...is the company's Tour Guide...I have experienced both ends of the spectrum. Using these tours is a crap shoot at best!
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Old Aug 11th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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I didn't say that all tours are the same. I said that a given tour is the same for everyone—which means that if some kids misbehave and others don't, the problem is not with the tour, but with the kids … and, by extension, with their parents, who have raised them to behave or not behave.

Kids spend 99.999% of their lives being raised by their parents, and 0.001% of their lives on tours through Europe. If they aren't behaving, it's not the fault of the tour, it's the fault of the parents.

If all kids on a tour misbehave, it might be the tour. But if it's only a few, I don't think the tour has anything to do with it.
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Old Aug 11th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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I certainly agree that unsupervised teenagers with too much free time in Europe is a recipe for trouble; however, kids who are determined to "misbehave" will find a way to do so.

I have been on two well supervised EF tours which allowed limited free time for the kids to get in trouble. Somehow, I still found myself holding a drunk girl's head while she threw up in a toilet, on my hands, and on my feet. I had to stay up with her all night to monitor for alcohol poisoning.

I had my eye on her from the flight over as I had to confiscate airplane bottles of liquor from her backpack. (I watched her steal them from the drink cart, but wasn't within speaking distance.) All the adults closely monitored the kids, but this girl managed to get her hands on a couple of bottles of wine and drink both by herself in her room after bed check and lights out.

The bottom line is that kids can and will misbehave even under the closest of supervision. There isn't really any solution; just keep supervising. Had they wanted to do so, those boys who bought the brownies could have still done that during the 30 minutes of free time that the tour company promised. Heck, one could have even excused himself to go to the WC and bought them.

Too much unsupervised time is certainly not advisable, but it isn't a guarantee that misbehavior won't occur. Even consequences won't deter some kids.
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Old Aug 11th, 2006, 07:38 PM
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Regarding whether some kids are just looking for trouble, no matter where they are, let me just clarify my original post of yesterday:

My son is one of the ten kids sent home. This is a kid who NEVER gets in trouble in school or at home (it's Friday night and he's safe and quiet here at home.) Just a month before the trip, he had come to me worried that one of his old friends from town had tried to get him to drink alcohol and he had felt really uncomfortable--so we had made a pact that whenever he gets stuck in a situation like that, he should call me on my cell phone and I'll bail him out. Of course, overseas, that was impossible. This was just a really good, clean kid in an extremely awkward situation with a bunch of kids he had only met a few days before and he was terrified of losing face.

I am not trying to justify his trying the brownies, but he did not go out seeking the stuff. My son describes a scene where 12 kids were in his own hotel room, no adults, and he felt he had to take a few bites to just to maintain teenage dignity. Not a good decision, but he was stuck in a bad situation by absent supervision, a situation that he definitely did not want to be in. (If 12 kids were involved, you know it wasn't just 2 kids sneaking off to the bathroom to smoke or something. There was a bad failure of mature adult involvement with these kids)

So if you believe, that you have "raised your kid right" and that he or she would never succumb to a situation like this, think again. My son and I are now working on how to deal with sitautions like this when you can't call Mom, and you can't just get up and walk away (because all these kids are in your hotel room and its 12 pm at night and there is nowhere else to go). Best I can come up with is to lie and say "Not tonight man, I've got a headache".

Anyways, most of the parents of kids involved are trying to get our money back through the BBB, as Explorica did not provide the supervision that would have prevented this from happening. (And what's up with just leaving them in the notorious part of Amsterdam--almost seems like they were set up to fail.)

Sorry--I'm ranting--still a lot of anger about what was supposed to be the most fun summer of my son's life, which has turned into this big headache.
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Old Aug 12th, 2006, 05:41 AM
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Yellow 24, this is another reason why I would never take 14 and 15 year olds on a trip like this. It is tough enough with 17 and 18 year olds. The amount of free time completely unsupervised is totally ridiculous and there is no excuse in leaving kids for that long in a place like Amsterdam, especially in the red light district. This is why our tour stayed in Edam, 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam, because it is so easy to find trouble in a city like that at night. A lot has to do with the TD who organizes the activities and arranges the meeting times and where to go.

Baldworth
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