Ever chaperoned a school trip to Europe?

Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Much of the potential drama can be avoided if the penalties for infringement of rules are clearly spelled out in advance. Both student travelers and their parents should sign to indicate their acknowledgement of the policies. Serious infractions such as drug use, etc. should be punishable by an immediate trip to the airport. Parents must agree in advance to be resposible for any additional charges thus incurred. If a student in the group is a known troublemaker, he or she should not be allowed to travel unless one of his or her parents comes along. Unless there are similar rules in place, I would not agree to participate in this adventure at all.

Having said that, I will add that I have taken several trips to Europe with students of varying ages and have never had a serious problem. Student groups with which we have been combined have not been so lucky.
UNCalum is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:47 AM
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My only experiences of group trips have been as a pupil, fabulous trips to France, Spain, a Mediterranean cruise visiting many countries and Russia.

Of course the kids are going to push as many boundaries as possible, I'd be more surprised if they didn't (band members or not). We were so far from being angels that it's a wonder we were none of us caught, but we all survived in one piece and learnt a lot in the process. To my mind, I think it would be better not to set TOO strict guidelines and give as much leeway as the adult chaperones feel comfortable with.

The tighter the leash the harder they'll struggle to get free ;-)

I say go, don't spend too much time with your son (it'll just embarrass him) and make sure they're all equipped with a good map of London. At least there won't be a language barrier.

(PS. Band kids a cut above the norm? Haven't you seen American Pie?? Haha! )
Tallulah is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 08:08 AM
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I chaperoned a 2 1/2 week European band trip with 50 teenagers. First of all kids are kids, whether they are band kids, hockey players or dancers. They are kids who are going to get hungry, cranky, homesick but will make your trip the experience of your life if you treat them with the repect they deserve. Having said that there were days when I could gladly have thrown a couple other chaperones the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
We paid the same amount as the students, attended all of their concerts, woke them up, made sure they were in their rooms at night and did not have any days off.
I spent very little time with my own child, by mutual agreement.
We saw 4 countries, performed 12 times and met many new friends.
What else can I tell you? I am doing it again this coming summer with 75 kids.
diddl_maus is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Saw four countries, performed twelve times? Hmm … did you perform in the Luxembourg Gardens?
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 09:59 AM
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You may want to investigate the commercial travel outfit "EF".
My children travelled the world with them many years ago while in secondary/undergraduate.
The chaperone is a "parent, teacher, etc." who gets/got then "free" travel for each six "students".
mikemo is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 10:28 AM
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Obviously the devil is in the details. And you need to get a lot more info on what your exact responsibilites would be.

But don;t fall for that band nerd nonsense. I agree that it is the most sheltered kids that get into the most trouble - because they have some freedom for the first time - but have never had the opportunity to develop any judgment (that comes only from the experience of having dealt with situations before).

(I have found this to be true of college freshmen too - those from the most conservative, sheltered homes go the wildest since they have had no chance to develop any sense of proportion.)

My cousin has take teen choral groups to europe twice because each time one of hers was in the chorus. One trip worked out very well due to a good leader on the ground there - although there were a fair number of hangovers involved (the kids were 16/17 - old enough to drink legally in europe).

But on the second trip one (very sheltered) young woman fancied she had fallen in love with a guy she met in a club and disappeared for two days. They knew she was OK because she called friends a couple of tims - but she just refused to return - they finally had to threaten to report her to the police - who didn;t want to get involved since she was 17 and missing voluntarily. Apparently she finally returned because the guy became bored with her and threw her out.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:22 PM
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I was the interpreter/"accompagnateur" for a dozen 10-11 year olds to France (edge of Normandy) in 1999. My expenses were entirely paid for my serving in this role (plus I taught the kids French for about 1-2 hours, Saturday mornings, spanning about 20 weeks before the trip). Lodging was in the home of individual French families (each American kid in a different home; the one other adult - - a teacher in their school back in the US, stayed in the home of the corresponding teacher in France; the French kids had earlier come to spend three weeks in our town in the US, staying in the homes of the families of their respective French "matchmates").

I would do this every year, if presented the opportunity.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:57 PM
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..on trips when the children stay in a host home, the chaperone job is much easier. One of my co-chaperones had done this twice before she did a 24/7 with me..She said it was a huge differnce in terms of work load.
travelbunny is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:06 PM
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Your story reminds me of one of my roomates in college (either the 3rd or 4th).

He met a girl who had an Austin Healy.

He overwhelmed her with his driving ability.

They disappeared for a month.

They flunked out.

ira is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:10 PM
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Ira, I assume she was impressed with more than his driiving abilities...
travelbunny is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Thanks for all of your opinions. You've given me a whole lot to consider!
rosebud is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 04:52 PM
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I have to note that chaperoning when students are being hosted (at least for a portion of the trip) in a way is easier, but also leaves a chaperone having to TRUST those hosts with a lot.

A few years ago we had a group of American kids on their last night with their hosts who were brought to a local bar. The students sampled alcohol (some apparently did more than sample) and the next day were scheduled to leave with the group (w/me as a chaperone) for our next location.

One of the students who went to the bar felt uncomfortable about the previous night & told me. We then had to spend our last day individually interviewing kids to find out who did what (one sip = breach of contract) and calling parents, etc. It was HORRIBLE for me, horrible of course for the kids and their families... and the hosts (who had also been drinking) got off without issue.

As per our school board policy, all of the kids who admitted to the mistake were suspended for 5 days from school upon returning to the US. This whole incidents made for a very uncomfortable last 4 days of the trip.

And yes, drinking can happen even on a tour, where chaperones are "around" 24/7. I know of one incident where some kids were in their hotel room, talking and drinking on their balcony- which was located directly above the chaperone's balcony.

This is a HUGE undertaking and you have to know and trust the group you are bringing. My last group was fabulous and I think the difference was that my co-chaperone and I BOTH had taught the group for at least 2 years.

katya_NY is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:02 PM
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Well since everybody's jumping on my assertion that band kids are the best behaved kids in high school(and I've taught in three different school districts where this has been the case), let me just say it must be my overwhelming personality that has kept them in line. Sorry, but my best students are almost always members of the band or chorus. Through years of practicing the discipline necessary to excel at music, these kids are the ones that seem focused and willing to learn. I've never had a major problem with any of them. The kids that aren't involved in any school activities are usually the ones I have to keep an eye on.
Zeus is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:03 PM
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I was thinking about this too. My son's orchestra is off to Germany and Czech Rep. in April. I have never been to either country.

But, what put me off to it was that I know it would feel like a giant bus tour -- which I just dread. All that being herded around, and eating in group restaurants etc. I don't know. On the other hand, I'd love to hear them play there.

But, I sort of decided it wasn't worth it. (Also, it was not free for chaperones but about $2000.) I guess I'll wait and see those places on my own.
wliwl is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:01 AM
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To AnthonyGA
We did not perform in Luxembourg Gardens. Why? did you think you saw us, perhaps?
diddl_maus is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:56 AM
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I've seen bands from the US perform in the Luxembourg Gardens, although I don't remember the names.

I can't believe that someone called parents and interviewed kids just because someone gave a few of them an alcoholic drink. Why? Americans seem to be more and more clueless with each passing year.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 03:41 PM
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That is a very hot topic for our upcoming trip. Parents are very concerned that their childrn might drink whilst they are in our care. Since this is a school trip the students are under school rules which means no drinking, even though some of them will be of legal drinking age in our country. Chaperones and teachers are also not allowed to drink while the children are around. So that means after they are safely in their rooms. And by that time (after midnight) all we want to do is sleep.
diddl_maus is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 03:56 PM
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While I've never chaperoned a school group to Europe, I've chaperoned music/art/drama students to fine arts festivals for the last several years (relatively small group of private school students, high achievers, from Texas). Having taught the students for up to thirteen years, I knew them and their families very well. Without a doubt, it is so much work! I always felt a tremendous amount of responsibility for their health and safety. Sleep deprived for several days is bad enough - I can't imagine it on an extensive overseas journey. On every trip, there's been an emergency of sorts requiring medical intervention. On every trip, there's been an incident with alcohol. Every night we did "bed checks" on all students. Unless you hire a guard to patrol the halls, there's not a way to insure the students stay in their rooms. The legal/liability issues aside, I would forego the concept of it being an inexpensive way to see Europe for another opportunity, another time.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 04:16 PM
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You are insane. I have never chaperoned a trip to Europe... but I have done several trips where I was the high school person travelling and trying to get around the chaperones.
Trip #1 - Quebec City for Winter Carnival the boys school that went with us... a group of standup young gentlemen missed the bus back to the hotel because they were in a strip club getting smashed.
Trip #2 - France my poor French teacher and his wife with 10 girls who needless to say were a handful and regularly found a way around the legal drinking age.
I also as a cheerleading coach have chaperoned (and spent 20 hours on a bus) with 25 girls and parents on 2 occasions. The first trip I had a 7th grader vomit on my feet on the bus ride down. The second trip I was not so lucky... we had two freshmen girls get caught shoplifting in Disney, another girl broke her ankle (thankfully her mom was there), and another girl who had a panic/asthma attack on the Disney bus and I had my first ever ambulance ride since her mother was not there.
It is a helluva lot of responsibility and headaches.
All that being said, I still enjoyed the trips and I had a lot of help from parents and the other coach... without them I would have gone nuts. There are saints who can put up with the insanity needed to pull off these trips so you may want to go just to be a godsend to the nuts who decided to take an entire band to Europe.
mma128 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2006, 04:19 PM
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By the way, to the post about the "band kids"... my husband was in band in high school and they are WAAAAAY worse than I ever was. Mostly because, like the above poster said, they have a reputation of being the good kids and can get away with all manner of crazy stuff.
mma128 is offline  

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