For a parent, sending your child away for days or weeks at a time is probably one of the scariest possible scenarios. Whether it is overnight camp, student educational travel, or even college, it requires the ability to let go of the reins, trust the outside world to take care of your very heart, and trust in your child to make good decisions and fend for himself a bit. That being said, at the right time and in the right context, it is a gift that we give our children that can yield unending and immeasurable benefits.
“She had probably the best time of her life! She really did not want to return and if this trip could have continued for weeks with the guides/group provided, she would have been quite happy to remain. She returned a different person and … felt so connected to the host families, to her guides, to this experience that I know she would love to return. She misses her guides from your organization and every day there is some reference to this trip.” Parent of a middle school student (PA)
At Chill Expeditions, we help teachers plan international experiences for their students. While parents are not our direct clients, we do a lot of answering questions and concerns, helping them to prepare their children, and even helping them prepare themselves for what to expect while their child is away. The feedback we are getting from parents these days is phenomenal. And yet, it is not without concerns that these parents allow their child to travel internationally without them!
Despite the fact that we live in a world of constant communication via social media, email, texting, etc., when your child is traveling with a group in a foreign country, the rule of thumb still applies that “No news is good news.” Yes, we post photos of groups on our blog, and yes, some schools keep a daily blog on their own that parents pore over for evidence of their own child… but sometimes you won’t hear anything for a few days. Remember that the point of sending them away is self-sufficiency and independence! Besides, it is also likely that they are very, very busy!
What aspect of the trip had the biggest impact on your child? “Confidence in being away from home, self-sufficiency.” -Parent of a middle schooler (PA)
“Learning about hard work … and that giving to others can be so rewarding!” Parent of a high school student (NY)
The skills they are honing and the intellectual adrenaline they are discovering may well inspire them for a lifetime. A well-planned and well-chosen student educational travel experience will change the lens through which they view their world and themselves.
“My daughter’s trip to Costa Rica was life changing. The two week adventure is absolutely the main reason why she chose her major in college and her current career path. After living in the ecosystem and realizing her passion for science, she majored in Biology and is currently pursuing a MS in Marine Mammal Science. I am convinced that the trip to Costa Rica planted the seeds of discovery in her in a way that only a hands on experience could have done.” – Parent of a high school student (PA)
Finally, we hear from many parents that they are surprised at how much more mature their child sounds when they return, how much they suddenly appreciate their parents, teachers, and opportunities, how much more grateful and grounded they seem. While this may surprise parents, it certainly does not surprise us! We regularly get feedback from students along these lines.
“The world is a big place so I must value every special moment and the good in life. …I learned how awesome my teacher is and how he is such a good person who deserves a lot of respect. I learned that I am a person who needs to focus on the good in life because it’s so valuable. This trip helped me find out who I am.” – High School Student (VT)