Student Travel Club Gearing Up for Two Trips in 2008

Students at Tumbler Ridge Secondary School(TRSS) once again have the opportunity to travel this school year. The travel club at TRSS, spearheaded by teacher Caroline Crispin, is preparing for not just one adventure, but two! Students in grade eight will travel to Quebec in February and students in grades 10-12 will travel to Spain in March. The travel club is not mandatory, but for the students that choose to join, the experiences they will have will create memories that will last a lifetime.

The TRSS travel club was started by Caroline Crispin in 2005/2006 during her first year teaching in Tumbler Ridge. EF Educational tours was the company Crispin chose to work with based on value and experience. Crispin had been on previous EF Tours as a chaperone. Deciding to become a tour leader for students at TRSS was a big decision. For their first trip to Europe, the TRSS travel club was granted permission in June 2006, almost an entire year before the trip was to take place.

EF tours has been giving students the opportunity to learn out of the classroom and ?learn by living it? for over 40 years. Founded in Sweden in 1965, the mission of EF tours is to break down barriers of language, culture and geography. The adventures students have allow teachers to enrich classroom teaching through travel. Tours are filled with different activities including visiting historical sites, going to museums and participating in walking tours. Some free time is given during tours, but the majority of time is spent learning. Students go on EF tours to learn and have experiences that textbooks and classrooms cannot give them.

The TRSS travel club is preparing for two trips this year. The grade eights will travel in February to Quebec. They will be attending Carnaval in Quebec City. Students will experience one of the largest Carnavals, as Quebec City is celebrating it?s 400th anniversary in 2008. The trip will be from February 7th-15th, 2008. Although the trip is not mandatory, Crispin said that studying Carnaval is part of both the grade seven and grade eight French curriculum. This trip will bring the student?s textbooks to life.

During their trip, the grade eights will have a walking tour of Quebec city and Montreal, a guided tour exploring historical moments in Quebec City and they will visit Le Chateau Frontenac, the world?s most photographed hotel which has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Students will also dine in the manner of early French-Canadian loggers at the Sugar Shack, nestled deep in the pine forest of rural Canada. Tapping maple trees, exploring Old Montreal and visiting Montreal?s Underground City are sure to interest students. The highlight perhaps will be when the students take part in the Carnaval Parade, which is going to be the largest parade in history.

Students in Grades 10-12 have a chance to travel to Spain during March Break. So far nine students have signed up for this adventure. According to Crispin, all but one of these students are new to the travel club. Crispin explained only students in grades 10-12 are allowed to go on this trip because it is overseas and there is a need for a higher level of maturity from students. While in Spain, students will visit and tour Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Seville, and Costa Del Sol.

?Planning these trips takes a lot of time and effort?, said Crispin. To ensure students don?t take this opportunity for granted, they must sign a behavioral and educational contract when they sign up to go on a trip. The parents of the students must also sign this contract with their sons/daughters.

The behavioral contract is for when they are on the trip. ?It is to ensure students are good, contributing and respectful citizens when they are in another country?, says Crispin. It is important for students to respect the rules, respect others on the trip and to respect authority. This will ensure the safety of all the students on any trip the travel club embarks on. In this behavioral contract, students agree to: no drinking/no drugs, no sneaking out, no sneaking anyone in to the hotel room, and no fraternizing in the hotel rooms. Crispin said there is zero tolerance. Anyone caught breaking any of the rules will have to call their parents and let them know they will be on the first flight home at the parents expense.

The academic contract starts when students sign up for their trip of choice. According to this contract, students must not be late more than 20 times(within the school), they must do their best at all times and they must give 100% in class. Crispin explained when she first started the academic contract, she had put a grade average students must achieve. She decided to eliminate this because some students can work very hard in class and earn a C+ while another student might not work hard in class and get an A. Having the students work to the best of their abilities makes the contract more fair.

EF tours pride themselves on offering the lowest prices guaranteed. As low as they may be, these trips are not free. The Quebec trip will cost each student $1700. The trip to Spain, including the bus to Edmonton, will be $2800 per student. These prices include airfare, taxes, hotel accommodation and two meals per day as well as any fees to attend the different attractions. Once on the trip, students need only to worry about one meal per day and spending money. So who pays? Crispin says the students are responsible for the cost of the trip. Students and parents can choose to pay for the entire trip out of pocket, fund raise all of it, or fund raise and pay some out of pocket. The trips must be paid in full regardless of how you choose to pay for the trip. If the student decides to participate in fund raising, then when all fund raising is done, monies are added up and divided amongst those who participated. The more you fund raise, the more money you will get back to put towards your trip.

Students who are going on these two trips will have several opportunities to participate in fund raising. The grade eights have already hosted Cafe Latte, which raised about $400 towards their trip. Students in the travel club also worked at Grizfest earning almost $2000. It is a good start, but there is a long way to go. ?Corporate sponsors are always welcome?, says Crispin. There are also many more fund raisers in the planning stages. A community scavenger hunt, rent-a-kid, silent auctions, Christmas parties and bottle drives are just a few fund raisers that will help students out. New ideas to raise money are always welcome.

?The students are willing to work hard for these trips?, says Crispin. Working for the trip gives the students a sense of achievement and they value the experience that much more. The experience of fund raising also helps students to form new bonds and friendships. They learn to work together and in many instances, work with people they normally wouldn?t associate with. The process of fund raising is an important part of the entire trip experience.

Students aren?t the only ones that get to travel the world. EF tours have a mandatory minimum one to ten ratio: one chaperone per 10 students. Crispin was happy to have a one to five ratio on the trip to Europe. She said everyone is welcome, although adults who go on the trip do pay a higher fee. For every six students that go, one free space is given to the group. Crispin uses this free space to help bring down the costs for chaperones and students, rather than giving it to one person.

Last year, nearly 40 people including students, parents and teachers went to Europe. The trip cost over $100,000 in total. Before taking out expenses, over $63,000 was fund raised. This year the travel club is hoping that the community will continue to support their desire for educational adventures. ?Whatever the event, the community was there supporting us last year?, said Crispin. If it wasn?t for that support, the trip to Europe would have never happened.

Students will be working hard to get ready for their trips to Quebec and Spain. They may even be knocking on your doors soon to ask for support. Keep your bottles and save your cans, students from the TRSS travel club will be coming for them soon.

**Several students have chosen to forego the trip to Spain as they are eagerly awaiting the upcoming trip to Greece in the summer of 2009. **