April 21, 2010,
M.C. asks from Dunstable, MA on April 21, 2010
People to People European Travel for Teens
My wonderful and high performing 16 year old granddaughter was "nomimated" to particpate as a Student Ambassador for travel to Europe Summer 2010. Although we've made the deposit and she has launched fundraising efforts to finance travel, we continue to have reservations about this trip and P2P, in general. I know it's absolutely normal to have some degree of concern when considering that we'd be sending our precious girl so far away ... but at this point we NEED to be convinced that P2P / Ambassador Group is the absolute MOST qualified and committed organization to keep her(and ALL the children) SAFE while under their care! The trip sounds like it will be a wonderful, enlightening adventure - far more than a sight-seeing tour. But we would be entrusting our beloved child to their care - and it's hard, really hard to just write the check and send her off with them. Does anyone have info on P2P / Ambassador Group and / or feedback from RECENT travel that may be helpful to us in making this decision? P2P may offer an absolutely SAFE and fabulous program for teen travel but their seemingly deceptive marketing has really raised flags for me ... thanks for any feedback! Loving Grandma in New England ...
So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone for the feedback - very helpful! Just about everything I've read that' was written by people who have had ACTUAL travel experience with P2P has been very good and, in many cases, excellent. There have been a few terrifying reports, however, including the horrific death of a young man with diabetes. There's lots of speculation and rumor regarding that tragedy but there is one thing for certain. It is that terrible things can and do happen and regardless of where or how the blame falls, it's horrible. Once our kids fly off to a foreign country and they're thousands of miles away, we can't protect them or help them. So, NOW is the time to ask ALL the questions of would-be caretakers. As to the issue of P2Ps marketing, it seems they may be inflating their actual affiliation with Eisenhower's P2P in an effort to gain credibility. I say this based solely on things I've read indicating that the original organization founded by Eisenhower is now defunct. I've personally seen that their sales tactics are high pressured and manipulative. I find it very off-putting. Nevertheless, the issues of sales and marketing practices are far less important (to me) than their commitment to keep our kids SAFE and the quality of the travel experiences they provide. Can they deliver? According to reports from those who have traveled with P2P, yes. They apparently give kids a memorable and enlightening life experience. As to the issue of safety, I've heard they have protocols in place that should keep everyone safe but I've also found a few "holes" in the plan that leave me feeling unsettled. For example, the issue of screeening host families ... my granddaughter will spend a night or two - alone - wiith an Austrian family. So, I asked P2P what selection criteria was used to select host families and was told that P2P relies on their local office in that particular region to make those decsions. They told me that they "trust" that the local office will do a great job. I want to be trusting, too. But P2P can't tell me what screeening is used, what criteria are considered in selecting host homes??? That's very disturbing. Thanks, again, to everyone for feedback.
L.K. answers from Kansas City on April 21, 2010
OOps, I just read to the bottom of your note. Why do you think their marketing is "seemingly deceptive?"
Good Morning M.,
My 15 year old will be heading to Australia this summer with People to People and this is her second trip with the organization. The first was when she was just 11 when they went to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Oh, and in Australia this year she will stay with a local family for a couple of days. All families/homes go through a thorough screening but the kids are also given code words they can tell the leaders if they feel uncomfortable about anything.
I can not say enough about the experience AND the organization. Have you been to the website and/or read the history of the organization? I guess when she was first invited to go I too had reservations and tried to find something wrong but couldn't. I was further put to ease after meeting Mary Eisenhower herself and understood how important it is to her to keep her grandfather's dream alive AS WELL AS the safety of the thousands of kids who travel under their name every year.
And as a 16 year old your granddaughter will be able to get high school and/or college credit for her time. It is not just a sight-seeing trip. They are involved in and learn about the cultures and usually participate in some sort of service to help the community they visit.
Our daughter is also working on her Congressional Medal which involves a boat-load of hours and even an excursion of some sort. People to People trips are one of the few organizations that fill all requirements for the excursion/exploration part of getting the medal.
I would be happy to talk to you privately and on the phone to tell you in more detail about our experience. I think you are indeed a loving grandma to have reservations, but it will be a safe - wonderful experience!
3 moms found this helpful
L.M. answers from Lansing on April 21, 2010
My daughter was 15 when she went last Summer with the People to People program for 3 weeks to Great Britian. She also was a part of the Sports Ambassador group when she was 13 when they went to Austria. Both trips were wonderful experinences for her with many many fantanstic memories. She also developed some close relationships which have continued throughout the years and probably will last a lifetime. The program is expensive and probably for your money she and her whole family could go for the amount she will pay. Money aside, my daughter gained many intangibles that only a trip away from family with peers and trained counselors could provide. Safety was never and issue. These young people are closely monitored and the counselors are excellent in handling the various situations that arose (my daughter's debit card was eaten in an ATM the second day and the problem was resolved quickly). If your grand daughter participates in this program I hope she has as much fun as my daughter and her group.
2 moms found this helpful
T.F. answers from Dallas on April 21, 2010
I don't have answers for you. I am writing because I'd like to learn more about the program.
Also, what is the marketing program they are using to raise the red flags. I'm sure you as a mom and Grandmother are keenly aware of the red flag and how you react to that gut instinct.
My 15 yr old daughter is planning to live in Italy for about a year because it is her dream. We support her dreams and I am looking into programs where we can do this.
Any ideas are appreciated!
D.B. answers from Dallas on April 21, 2010
Two teachers and our school counselor where I work do P2P and have such wonderful things to say about it. Everything I have heard about P2P has been positive.
M.M. answers from Jacksonville on April 21, 2010
A friend of ours sent his daughter to Europe with P2P and she lovd it.
I have a foreign exchange student from Germany with YFU and I am happy with them and if I was to send any of mine to a foreign country I would probably use them.
Is your daughter livign with a family? And how does P2P screen these families? Those would be my biggest questions.
Also make sure that your insurane will cover her while over there. We have had some issues with the American insurance company that said they would cover my student.
I think she will have a great time and it is so very natural to be scared to death when sending your precious child with complete strangers to a foreign country.
My student's mom was a wreck for a long time but she is now excited to hear of her adventures here in AMerica.
L.M. answers from New York on April 21, 2010
My daughter too was "nominated" for P2P, in the 6th grade. (She's a straight A student, very respected by her teachers, etc) At first I thought it was an honor to be recognized. We went to the seminar, I asked questions "Like how was my daughter selected?", not only was I concerned about the chaperones, but I was also concerned about the other students she would be with. I never got a direct answer to my question. A few weeks later, when talking to a friend, I found out that her daughter was also "nominated" at a high school level. Her daughter is a "C" student, very unmotivated, and only participated in one school club/sport. That set up a big "red flag".
I also talked with a parent from our school who had sent her daughter. She said she her daughter really enjoyed the trip, there were no safety issues, and with all the fundraising she didn't have to put out a lot of money. But I never got the response I was looking for like this was an amazing opportunity, she saw so many great things, it was an adventure of a lifetime, can't wait to go again.
I was also very put off by their marketing techniques. I felt they were teaching us how to get a "free" vacation. I did a little research and discovered that I could go on a similar trip with a tour for about 60% of the cost, and that included hotels, not hostils.
On the plus side, this organization has been around for many years and they're still in business. And yes it is a business, not a non-profit.
We only went to that first seminar. For the following 3 years, we got the you have been "nominated" letter. Just my opinion, but too many red flags for me.