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eftours for students

Old Aug 15th, 2006, 01:01 PM
  #81  
 
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Thanks for the feedback, Baldworth. I guess what I'd really like to know is whether there is any way for a parent to really know what they are sending their child off to? You can ask the right questions (I believe I did) but I was lied to. Aren't there any industry standards on supervision of minors on these tours? From reading some of the earlier posts, maybe I was just naive in expecting adult supervision, but it seems like it would be a huge liability issue when taking minors abroad. If I do get my money back, I'd consider trying again for the "trip of a lifetime" for my son, but I don't even know where to start when it comes to checking out who is credible and who is not.
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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I guess you need to ask other parents from another year or get some specific references on one group. I don't think that many kids should be left alone when traveling, and not only is it bad for them, it is terrible for travelers who may have to be around them. I've been in hotels, for example, with large groups of unsupervised kids.

As for what happened to this kid, I understand being that age you are not so sure of yourself, especially when traveling and among kids you don't know that well. But, if you want a suggestion as to what to teach him as to how to respond to doing things that he doesn't want to do or are illegal -- instead of lying, why not teach him to learn how to have some conviction of his own values and himself. It also sends a bad and wrong message that he is being taught that he shouldn't just say no, he doesn't want to, and mean it, that he has to lie and say he has a headache. What's the point of that? That is basically giving approval to others, or at least inviting further action at some other time.

I think children need to be taught values and to have some character. I was from as old as I could talk,and my parents never in a million years would have taught me that I should lie rather than saying I wouldn't do something because I didn't want to (whether just a matter of taste, or thinking it was wrong). There is even no need to moralize -- one can say no and mean it exactly the same way you could just so no to being offered some kind of candy you couldn't stand to eat.
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Christina, I think this is probably the only time I have ever suggested that my son lie about anything. I guess as a parent, I am just sympathetic to the incredible pressure of being a 15 yr old in a room of near strangers, in a foreign land with no adults around, in a situation you did not expect to be in. Panic time. To me just coming up with an quick fake excuse why not to try something seems like an acceptable and realistic safety net--preferable than nibbling on a few bites to feel accepted. (I think people make polite excuses all the time, ie: perhaps not trying your sister-in-law's sticky tuna casserole because you "just ate".) I do not consider this poor character--more diplomatic socialization. But I wasn't really looking for advice on parenting--I actually think I've done okay there. He made a mistake, and he is forgiven. He will have learned from this experience.

I was looking for any advice on how one can tell if a student tour group actually provides the supervision that prevents kids from getting in such an incredibly awkward situation in the first place. If you want to talk about character, to me, this was the big lie on the part of Explorica and I just can't imagine that having minors wandering the streets of Europe unsupervised is acceptable. I would love to hear about any alternative tours that actually provide what they say they do. Somewhere I heard that People to People is a lot more structured--anyone have any feedback on them?
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 03:18 PM
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>>>>I was looking for any advice on how one can tell if a student tour group actually provides the supervision that prevents kids from getting in such an incredibly awkward situation in the first place.<<<<<

The only way to "actually provid[e] supervision that pevents kids from getting in such ...[a] situation" would be for a parent to accompany the kid on the trip, be at his or her side the entire time, and stay in the same room with him or her. Neither tour directors, trip leaders nor tour companies can guarantee anything 100 percent. If parents feel that they need that kind of guarantee, they should accompany the kid themselves; this way, they will be able "to tell if a student tour group actually provides the supervision" desired.

I am really sorry that your son's experience did not turn out as expected.
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 03:39 PM
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These kinds of student tours do not allow parents. So would you say just avoid them all? I guess that is what I am hearing, and I can accept that. It just seems to me that a lot of parents will be duped into thinking their kids are being superived when the literature and the sales people say they will, and something really bad could happen. Is this standard of misrepresentation just something that is accepted in the industry? I guess I have a hard time accepting that.
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 07:32 PM
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>>>So would you say just avoid them all? <<<

Yes, if you want a 100% guarantee of "supervision that prevents kids from getting in ... an incredibly awkward situation."

>>>>Is this standard of misrepresentation just something that is accepted in the industry? <<<<
No.

You may be asking for a guarantee that can't be offered at any time or any place (including the confines of your child's school, place of worship or neighborhood.)

I think it is called assumption of risk. I'm sure you will agree that we all encounter it every single day of our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes our children are placed or find themselves in situations where they are forced to make decisions. Sometimes they are not what we would have chosen for them. With experience, they will learn to make better ones despite the variables at hand or the odds against them.

As posted earlier, too much unsupervised time is certainly not advisable, but it isn't a guarantee that misbehavior won't occur.

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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 09:45 PM
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I realize I am coming in at the tail end here, but I wanted to comment on the poster who said "these tours do not allow parents to come". I would definitely avoid a group like that. My daughter will be most likely going on an EF tour this Spring and I will probably go also. I've already been told that parents are more than welcome.
Having said that, I will not be glued at her side the entire trip. She is very trustworthy, and though she makes mistakes from time to time, she has never made a major one so I will take a leap of faith in her(while still being a few rooms down). lol
I do not think any tour can realistically promise to supervise your child 24 hours a day. I think most high school children have access to drugs right in their own schools in this day and age.
Your son made a big mistake. Even though it was only a couple of little bites, he knew it was wrong, wrong, wrong. That's not to say he isn't a good kid. Good kids make mistakes. And even though it was a costly, costly lesson, maybe it really sunk home that our actions have consequences. I know that is easy for me to say as I am not the one who paid for a trip that was not fulfilled. Kids that have been caught with drugs in other countries have faced dire, dire consequences.
I do think that maybe he received something more valuable than a trip to Europe.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 01:41 AM
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Yellow24,
deinitely pick a tour where parents are not only welcome but encouraged to come. The only other way would be for your child to go on a tour where another trusted adult was included, someone that you know and feel good about. There are no guarantees but you have to judge wether the amount of risk is acceptable or not and proceed. On the two EF trips that I have been on I have had parents say that they felt better letting their kids go because I was going along. I got involved in the first place because my wife wouldn't even hear of my daughter going the first time without one of us along and I was available.

Baldworth
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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Interesting feedback. I guess I am learning now what I should have known before the trip. It's just taking a while for it to sink in that these tours can state standards of supervision and totally blow that off and not have to assume responsibility. One poster commented on the assumption of risk anytime a child goes to school, camp or anything like that. I agree, but in schools etc, adults have an obligation to watch your children. I know a classroom of kids cannot be left unsupervised, and that is within the safe walls of the school. And as a youth group worker at my church, I know there are specific guidelines we MUST follow in the supervision of the children (ie: I could never take them to Boston and turn them loose for 6 hours, including nighttime hours.) It just amazes me that a tour group has no such responsibility over our kids, even if they state they do. Like I stated before, I guess I was just naive. Live and learn.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 05:11 AM
  #90  
 
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My spouse and I take students on these trips every other year. We now have a policy of never taking adult participants. The reason is that they tend to be demanding and want to take our time and attention away from the kids. They also are less flexible with "surprises", have higher demends and are frequently late. They are also almost impossible to discipline. We are able to fill the trip with students and chaperones that we hand pick. Far too many teachers on these trips are scrambling to get enough participants to allow the trip to go and allow anyone to help fill it up.

After talking to a number of student travel company people and TD's I estimate that around 60% or more of the student groups have an official policy of no alcohol by students. Some trips are school sponsored and the administration prohibits ANY alcohol. This can be hard enough to enforce anyway and almost imposible to enforce if you have other groups on the bus you do not control. 17 and 18 year old Americans are all too familiar with sneaking alcohol.

After a number of trips, we now take the stand that some drinking experiences in Europe is a part of their cultural education such as a trip to the Hofbrau Haus or a vinyard or even one drink with dinner. We don't force the kids, but encourage the parents to sign a form that allows the kids to have a drink or two in our presence. We tell the kids repeatedly that if they want to spend the summer drinking they should stay home. Many of these kids are 18, graduated from high school and will be on their own with all the temptations of college in less than 2 months. We tend to watch the younger kids a little closer. Usually about 10 to 20% will never touch a drop.

Some kids will still break the rules, but we can punish them by making them get up an hour earlier the next day or by spending the next day hanging with us on the tour instead of their friends and eating at our table for supper. This is usually the last place these kids want to be. Sending a kid home at parents expense would be a last step after a warning call to the parents. We have never had to go that far (though came close last year). All of these kids are from the same school and past or present language students of the teachers on the trip.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 05:27 AM
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The fact that such a thing would never occur to you, yellow24, makes it obvious that you would never shirk your responsibility as a tour leader like that. Not everyone has the same sensibilities or sense of duty, as evidenced by the experiences of some above posters. I would gladly let my child go to Europe with you---but then, if you can't trust the written standards for leaders, how would I know that as a parent considering the trip?
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 05:35 AM
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I should also add that you have to be able to trust your kids regardless of the rules of the trip. If your 17 or 18 year old wants to drink, you will not be able to stop him at home let alone on the trip. Your "angel" is exposed to alcohol regularly at parties and with other kids. Trust your kid, but don't blame the chaperone or the trip rules if your kids drinks away from home. He will have to learn to handle temptation when he goes to college. Make him take responsibility for his actions.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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yellow24 - You are talking about 2 entirely different things. You booked your child with the "Summer Academy" not a tour. This is something new to Explorica this year. Other student tour companies have tried this type of program in the past and have dropped them.

Most people discussing the student tour companies are talking about groups going from their schools WITH their local teachers on tours. The teachers are in charge of the students not the tour company.

All list sending your child home at your expense if rules are broken so I don't think you will get any money back.

Most teachers try to watch the kids, but few know what the kids are really doing.

The "Academy" doesn't have teachers, just employees of Explorica. If they are European, they would expect 14-15 year olds to need very little supervision.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 05:47 AM
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I feel that this type of running rampant in a city is a fairly rare thing with tours. I know it is hardly a fair comparison, but when we travel to Russia, we stay with families for about 10 days, and then we do the "tour thing" for about 4. While the students are with host families, we (teacher-chaperones) see them during the school day, and they spend the rest of their time with their host families.

I know that for some kids, this is a time of great temptation. Many of the Russian hosts smoke, and several (I have been told) drink.

I am proud to see the pictures of my students, sitting in cafes, drinking cappucinos and feeling European- but I am even prouder when they tell me that they don't want to drink out of respect for their parents and their chaperones.

As far as when we are all together, our time is very... structured. The one time we do let the kids "free" is for about 2 hours on the Arbat in Moscow. Both of the chaperones are there, too- but the kids roam on the pedestrian street in small groups. We check up on them CONSTANTLY, and usually a bunch of them choose to stay with us.

I think that choosing a group with a trusted teacher is a good alternative to a parent going along. It is not always possible for parents to join, and depending on the student, it may be embarrassing for them.

When I ask my students what they did last night, what they had for dinner and whether they ate breakfast- I ask it of all of them. All equally mortified.
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Old Aug 16th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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What if yellow24's child was assaulted in the red light district in Amsterdam? Would the tour company have been responsible then?

Legally, it probably would not. But to leave kids unsupervised in a dangerous or very seedy area makes them at least partly responsible, at least in my book. It's easy to say that your kids have to be trustworthy, responsible, able to deal with all kinds of people and situations, etc. in order to participate in this kind of trip. But if kids were resourceful enough to get around European cities all day by themselves, resist temptation in any form, and generally rely on their own wits, why even send them in a group? That's a kid who is ready to tour Europe unescorted. Obviously, the kids who are sent on an escorted or chaperoned tour are sent because they require chaperoning. And if they don't get the chaperoning the parents expect from the stated rules and brochure verbiage and get in trouble, it's at least partly the tour's "fault." IMO.

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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 01:45 PM
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My niece & nephew have gone on EF tours & all was okay. Food usually sucks, but whatever. The only issue is flights. you don't know when they are going & can't count on them coming back at the times they say. Our son is currently stranded in Toronto. 1/2 the group got home from Ireland 2 days ago. The others were bumped from their flight leaving Heathrow. After an exta night being shuffled around Heathrow (with no luggage... it was locked up by the airport) they finally got to Toronto at which time EF informed them that they would no longer guarantee flights - they would all have to fly stand by coming home "piece-meal". If I would have wanted to sent my child to travel around alone I would have done so in the first place, not paid thousands of dollars to have him wandering around Toronto hoping to get home in a couple days.... NOT A HAPPY PARENT!!! I WILL be dealing with EFTours for their shabby arrangements. They brag about being in business for so many years. Well by now then you should have it down pat...shouldn't you?
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 03:22 PM
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Good luck to your son, Jeannie, and I hope you get some satisfaction from EF tours---although if you read the fine print I'm sure they have indemnified themselves against anything and everything.

If you can write up a short description of your son's and other travelers' problems you might be able to get a news feature organization interested in doing a story---Teens stranded by Tour Company, that sort of thing. The more people who hear it the better.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 03:54 PM
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Jeannie: So sorry to hear of the upset with your son. You have every right to be concerned. I do hope he was properly chaperoned while apart from the rest of the group. I have never used EF as a tour company, but I do know that overall they do a good job. There is, however, no excuse for having a student traveller put at risk needlessly. For other parents (and for you too Jeannie) please remember the benefits of travel and why you wanted him to travel to Europe in the first place. Student group travel is a wonderful growth experience.
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Old Apr 16th, 2007, 05:03 PM
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Last summer, my DH and I went on an EF Tour with four other teachers from my school. The price was right and overall EF did a good job. Our hotels were ok but ut of the major towns. We did have a hotel in Paris within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. Our food was also ok but most of the kids didn't eat it filling up on junk food instead. I would personally advise that those who are considering sending a child on a tour check out the teacher/student ratio. Of the three student groups on our bus, the best supervised group was also the smallest. This teacher supervised her students all the time. The other two groups had a lot of unsupervised free time in each city. The teachers are the ones who supervise the students, not the tour director.
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Old Apr 17th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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My son & 1 more girl got home - unescorted. ... 3 others now stranded in Toronto for 1 to 2 days... the one teacher has stayed with the group in Toronto & is trying her best to deal with EFtours. She has done an excellent job. The other teacher came home with the first set of kids that got routed through NFLD. Yes the kids are young adults & nothing has happened. But the flight issues were solely on EFTOurs shoulders. They simply could never had made their connector flight from Shannon to Heathrow. Yes the trip was great, yes the tour guide was great, etc. etc. but I am really disappointed in the treatment at the end. It seemed like EFTours washed their hands of the group at the end. The tour was over, they had their money...oh well... you'll all get home some how... some time... All of us parents now have many dollars worth of collect calls from London, St; Johns NFLD, Toronto, etc. Heaven only knows where the luggage is - it didn't make it home with the 2 kids we picked up in Saskatoon last night... The kids were close to getting ono so many standby flights that they have no idea which plane their luggage may have gotten on to... All started okay, but they really dropped the ball at the end. I will be dealing with EFTours personally. None of this falls to the escorts, airlines or the kids... it is solely EFTours issue & I am ever hopefully that if nothing else these kids will personally receive at least an apology from them for their shabby treatment at the end.
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