Ever chaperoned a school trip to Europe?

Jan 21st, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Ever chaperoned a school trip to Europe?

My son's band will be making a trip to Europe later this year, and I'm trying to decide if I want to chaperone. On one hand, it seems like a fairly inexpensive way to see more of Europe. On the other hand, it could be that I'm paying money and giving up my time to work and deal with potentially difficult kids! I would love to hear others' experiences. My son is high school age, by the way.
rosebud is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 09:03 AM
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Hi R,

There isn't enough money in the world to get me to do that (well, maybe a whole lot of money)

ira is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 09:37 AM
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I did 8 trips to Europe as a chaperone with 7th and 8th graders. Iloved it (but was in my 20s and had more patience back then and was so eager to see Europe I'd have done anything).

I don't know what your trip would be like, but mine were a LOT Of hard work - researching and preparing for the trip as well as the on-the-ground responsibilities. I learned more French history preparing for those trips than I did in a gazillion college classes.

The days are long, the kids are a handful, it's exhausting, but I'll never regret doing it - and OH the sweet relief when I finally just up and went on my own!!!
StCirq is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 10:16 AM
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Have you chaperoned a large group of teenagers anywhere? What would your responsibilities be? I've been a highschool teacher for thirty years, and I won't even consider chaperoning overnight. Nope. J.
jmw44 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Have you ever been one of the class mothers on a school day trip? If so, imagine that magnified 100 times (yes they will all be trying to sneak out to the pubs/bars at night - and it is YOUR resonibility).

Never mind the ones that lose things, get homesick, are obnoxius to others - and all the logisitcal problems inherent in that many people traveling together.

If you've never been class mom on a day trip - don;t even consider it - you're just not prepared.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 01:28 PM
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I did this when my daughter was a high school senior. I really hated the kids, but it was so great to experience Italy with my daughter, and to see her respond to the country just as I had hoped she would, that it is a very pleasant memory to me.

That said, for a couple of years after the trip, you could have threatened me with death, and I would have taken my chances rather than travel to Italy with 17 teenagers again.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 01:44 PM
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I would imagine that band kids are a cut above the normal run of kids, so it might not be as bad an idea as I thought of at first blush.However, nothing would tempt me ever to chaperone a group of teens again anywhere, at any time, under any circumstances.

My experience with chaperoning a group of kids from Sacramento to San Francisco during which three girls who had smuggled a bottle of tequila on the bus and who drank it once they were set loose was lesson enough for me. They were extremely drunk when they got back on the bus, and the trip back to Sacramento doesn't bear remembering.

The ski trip to the Sierras wasn't quite as bad despite the bottle that had been smuggled into the girls' dorm (after I had made it a condition of my chaperoning that there be no booze), but I didn't get much sleep that night.

Then there was the overnight senior trip to a lovely Japanese hotel, wherein alcohol figured, along with I rather not know what else...

However, none of my trips ended as disastrously as a fellow-teacher of a British friend. Some kids smuggled alcohol into a room on a ferry between England and France and then fell down some metal stairs. The teacher didn't know anything about it until the heliocopter came to take the injured student off the boat.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Oh C'mon. These are BAND kids, not the preps, jocks, burn-outs or Goths. Band kids are, for want of a better word, somewhat nerdy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Both my kids are band kids (and still are in college). Band kids are the best behaved and usually the smartest kids in the school. They are the one group of kids that might actually appreciate the history and culture of Europe.

As an educator I've done 10 escorted educational trips trips in the past 6 years and they've all been fantastic. Sure, someone is gonna break a rule or two and yes, a couple kids will get drunk. But the chaperone doesn't have to do much more than lend a band-aid or shoulder. It's the group leader and if you have a good one, the tour guide, that handle any major problems. Kids learn pretty quickly not to drink too much when they have to spend the whole next day riding a bus to the next city or running across Rome in the searing heat.

The only thing that might concern me is if the trip goes to Amsterdam. Kids get a little crazy around all that available "sin" thrown in their faces. Once was enough for me.

Go Rosebud. Just make sure there are other adults that you can hang with. No kid is gonna pal around with their parents.

I guarantee the entire experience will make you feel young again.
Zeus is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I chaperoned my niece's high school Spanish club trip to Spain for 2 1/2 weeks. We were with 3 other schools from other states.

The kids I chaperoned were wonderful!!! I can't say as much for the other school's kids - they got to be pretty annoying by the end of the week.

It was a very cheap trip, we had great hotels, a terrific tour guide. I guess I got lucky that the teenagers were all mature, polite and as far as I know there was no drinking.

The kids were all juniors & seniors so I think that made a difference (the other schools had some very immature freshman & sophmores).

I would do it again in a heatbeat!!!
adnil1962 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 05:02 PM
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Thanks for some interesting perspectives! Just to clarify, the trip is for six days in London. The kids will be grades 9-12. My child is only an 8th grader now, so I don't really know many of these kids yet. Hard to say how they'll act...
rosebud is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 07:33 PM
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Are you a teacher, or just a parent paying to go along?

As a teacher, I have brought students to Europe twice now. It is very rewarding for the students and it can be a great way to see students in a new light.

That said, the amount of work that goes into planning an exchange (or trip, or both!) is enormous. If you are lucky, nothing too major will go wrong.

I think it is a mistake to assume one "type" of student is more likely or less likely to get themselves into trouble. In my experience, it was actually the more innocent ones who are finally away from mommy's watchful eye that try to... let's say, branch out overseas. It is NOT the student who gets into these drinking, etc. activities at home necessarily... sometimes a little taste of freedom is tough for a good kid to handle...

As a teacher, while I know the value of these trips, it is a HUGE undertaking. I have to say, that in my experience- I am expected to bring a group of 14-20 students to Russia every other year, giving up 2 weeks of my time and roughly a year of free time to planning it, with NO compensation and sometimes without even a verbal "thank you" from parents.

It is highly stressful because you are being entrusted with the care of these teens, not getting enough sleep, worrying about what they will/will not eat... it is tough. I continue to do it because I know that it was an experience that changed my life as a teen. This aside, it is a rather thankless job on many levels.

Just my two cents...

katya_NY is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 08:12 PM
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I have had the pleasure of travelling with students aged 14 - 18 for many years. There is no better way for children to gain an appreciation of the world outside their local area than to go there. Bearing this in mind, travelling with students is wrought with potential upsets. You must feel comfortable with the organizers, tour company and rules that will be applied. How were previous trips from the school handled? Are the participants talking about partying or performing? What level of responsibility would you have for students? What is the ratio of chaperones to participants?

A well-planned international trip can be a life changing experience for students. I urge you to participate if you feel comfortable with the role.

p.s. We travelled to Egypt last March for 15 days with 36 students and we leave in 6 weeks for 15 days in Europe.
teacherCanada is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 12:30 AM
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I think it depends enormously on the type of kids on the trip. Typically they are all drawn from a similar group, and the characteristics of that group determine the type of problems (if any) that you'll have. For example, as previously indicated, if your group consists of binge drinkers or potheads, you'll definitely have trouble. And a particularly dangerous demographic is kids who have been kept on a very short leash at home, as they will go wild at the first opportunity (and there are many opportunities abroad).

However, with a good group, it can be great.

Of the numerous tour leaders and chaperones I've encountered and worked with, most really enjoy the work, although they are completely exhausted by it, sometimes getting only a few hours of sleep a night. Some of them get addicted to it, and end up spending many years (in the case of tour leaders particularly) doing trips abroad or domestically. The trips abroad usually involve more “adventure”—although not always.

Teenagers are fully capable of getting by on their own if they are the responsible and intelligent types. So how much work a chaperone has to do depends greatly on the batch of kids she's managing. It can be anything from a free pleasure trip to Europe to hell on Earth.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:12 AM
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Not wanting to ignite an endless disucssion about the piety of "band kids" - let it be said that I was a band kid and went on many trips with group - never in my life have I done more stupid and dangerous things than I did on those trips. Sometimes the "nerdy", quiet kids have less ability to respond to temptation than others.

Be sure what your responsibilities are. Do you get a sub-group of kids, or are the various parents just general chaperones. My kids have both been on overseas trips and the chaperones are assigned "hall duty" in shifts all nigth - and it was necessary!

If you are flexible, tolerant of annoying behavior, willing to be the one riding a bus with a kid for 8 hours when he loses his passport so he can get one back, understand you may spend your time searching for a missing kid when you really want to be in a museum - tghen this may be for you.

The trips my kids took were "chaperoned" by teachers - who went for free - and earned every penny of that trip. Then there were several parents who were "junior chaperones" - they paid their own way but had specific things to do each day.

The teachers who organize these annual trips always tell parents at the first parents meeting that something goes wrong on every trip - it is impossible to herd a group of teens thru a foreign country and not have some trauma and drama.
gail is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:29 AM
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Just for the record, there's nothing special about teens in that respect: adults are just as difficult to herd and something always goes wrong on trips with adults, too. The only difference is that adults are legally allowed to make their own decisions, so they don't have to have a grown-up around to decide everything for them.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:36 AM
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Rosebud- Teachercanada has given you some excellent factors to take into consideration before you chaperone the trip. I would also like to add here that this thread should be required reading for any teacher who is thinking about organizing a student tour to Europe. As a High School teacher I have taken 5 student tours to Europe. Even though there were some "trying" times, as I near retirement I regard this as one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. HOWEVER, to other teachers out there I found that one of the single most important factors was limiting the numbers and screening students. I like to keep the group size to around 20 if possible. If a "questionable" student shows interest, put them on the "waiting list". Also, I would NEVER take a tour as part of a school function requiring Board approval. It's your job on the line. I don't blame jmw44 for those comments. I also learned to limit adults- my trips are for students and I've had more problems with adults than students!
Beatle is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:49 AM
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Where I live, any teacher traveling with students at any time would be required to get board approval.

Our school's band kids are always the wildest kids on trips. The Beta/NHS kids are run a close second.
kybourbon is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 06:13 AM
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kybourbon- How can the Board stop you from participating/organizing a non-sanctioned school function???
Beatle is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 06:55 AM
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Rose, I chaperoned 2 choirtrips. I am not a teacher but I have 3 boys and worked at a camp during high school. It was a huge amount of work as well as a huge responsibility. I was there to be a chaperone not be be a tourist though I did do some sightseeing with the group. I also was not there to be with my child; in fact, our children were assigned to others. I felt very comfortable because the group was extremely well organized. All parents and children were aware of the rules and consequences of infringement. The other chaperones I worked with were hard workers and well qualified. The ratio of chaperones to kids was excellent (this is key for your sanity and the kids' safety). There were several meetings of the chaperones before the trip and clear guidence re expectations from the choir master. I think I had 4 evenings off in 17 days. You have to have a sense of humor..and believed me we laughted a lot!! Don't look on it as a vacation; it isn't. But if the trip is well organized, it can be a wonderful opportunity; if it isn't it can be a disaster for both you and the children.
travelbunny is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 06:55 AM
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Good Morning Rosebud

I will be leaving on my Chaperon trip to Europe this March. We will be in Spain then to France and end up in Rome. It's a 10 day tour and I am very excited. I have chaperoned many missionary trips with High Schoolers, and this is my second trip to Europe with this school. 2 years ago we did the paris and madrid tour. It was Fantastic and a great way to spend time with your children. I do not have any school age kids, however, whenever churches or schools need a female chaperone I offer my serivces. Of course I pay my own way and usually only know a few of the parents, and most of the kids. This trip in March is 2600.00 and I just had to pay an supplement of 153.00 for fuel charge (those Dogs) but I must say it is really worth it. The airfare, hotels, breakfast, dinner, tourguide, and tours are all included. The kids don't pay as much as Adults and I really don't understand that, because the kids eat way more than we do. One draw back for Me is the fact I usually share a room with a Woman I don't know, and that can be kind of awkward, but never real bad. I am a nite owl, so after curfew for the Kids, I leave the hotel to explore the city on my own and eat dinner at a restaurant of My choice. I can't say Your Teacher that heads the group will say You can leave on your own, however, I have done alot of Travel and They have no problem with Me leaving on my own for the evening.

Most tours you have a day to yourself, and that can be great. I had a whole day to myself in Paris and had the time of my life wondering the streets for 12 hours alone, it was not cheap because I did go shopping, I mean hey, your in the shopping central in Paris. I ate 3 meals in that 12 hour period, and when I got back to the Hotel I slept like a rock.

I have never in my travels had a tour guide, and the Man that headed our Group with the NETC student travel was Awesome. He stayed with Us the entire time and I just loved every minute of it. He was just full of info that you'd never get while on Your own, He got us front row seats for a Flameco show in Madrid and it was a lifetime experience, You know, the one that flashes before your eyes when You die. My heart was pounding so hard from the passion of the dancers and the stamping of their feet could be felt in our seats. We did the whole dinner and show there and I must say it was Fantastic.

Sometimes kids do get out of line. But I make it a point to let them know I am not there to be their friend...I am there to help them and watch over them, and I make no bones about not taking any crap out of anyone. They totally respect that you are honest up front and I have good friendships with 100's of kids because of it too. Be prepared to be everyone's mother too. This one school I go with they prefer that Parents don't come, because kids usually act up when the parent is around. And most parents make excuses for their kids bad behavior, and more than likely kids don't act up unless a parent is there.

I cherish the time I spend with these kids, they are amazing, kind, respectful,smart and very refreshing, and they are the future and they deserve the best. Hopefully they will straighten this crappy world were handing them.

Go with Your Son's band class. It will be something You two will talk about for the rest of Your lives. And just maybe you'll be going with Him and his children on trips in the future.

Have a ball........Love Theresa from Detroit PS I went to italy and have a trip report on the Rome forum,titled Italy I loved it. Several forum members really liked it, so hopefully it can give you some insight.
THERESA10 is offline  

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