Our travelers’ security is our number one priority. At Westcoast Connection, nothing else comes first. It is integral to everything we do. We are always mindful of our role and the trust you place in us.
While we know that to travel and be active inherently involves risk that cannot be eliminated, we use our well-developed processes to systematically reduce and manage risk to make our programs as safe as possible. Built on 36 years of experience in providing teens with reliable and secure travel experiences, we are proud of our excellent safety record. We share the following safety information and if you have any specific questions or concerns, one of our Directors would be happy to speak with you.
Our Planning Department specializes in creating detailed itineraries, where every location and activity meets our high standards. Vendors and suppliers pass a rigorous written safety review to reduce risk to participants. While we believe in spontaneity and flexibility in the field, we limit deviations from our preapproved itineraries so our groups take part in well-researched activities. Over the years, existing itineraries have been perfected, while new programs undergo a ten to eighteen-month research and scouting process that involves site inspections, vetting activity suppliers, researching accommodations, reviewing routes and access to medical care.
Highly Qualified Leaders
Our selectivity is second to none, as our offices in four different cities provide a wide geographic talent pool, with over 1200 applicants annually. The interview process includes individual interviews and at least two references, background check, and driver’s license checks as necessary. Many are experienced teachers, coaches, camp leaders and lifeguards. All staff are required to hold valid CPR and First Aid certificates.
Organized training programs range from one week for Program Directors and three-days for Program Leaders. Written manuals with detailed policies and procedures are reviewed, and additional role-playing exercises reinforce our safety protocols. We’ve been told by many teachers who work with us that the quality of our training far surpasses any other camp, school, or travel program they’ve been a part of!
Program Directors review each student’s health history and we hold medication for those that request it in writing of us. We provide additional training for anaphylactic allergies. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, access to medical care has already been determined.
24/7 Summer Communication Centers
Our two dedicated communication centers act as the 24/7 link between the program and parents. Program Directors check in at least once daily to receive messages and to provide any updates. Communication plans are in place in the event of an incident or emergency. Parents can also stay in touch with travelers who are permitted to bring their cell phones.
Scheduled Supervisory Visits
There are regularly scheduled visits with programs by Company Directors and Regional Supervisors, who last year made over 200 scheduled supervisory visits to provide ongoing support and mentoring in the field to help all run smoothly. These visits are an integral part of our quality control and help ensure our safety practices are being followed. This investment in senior personnel traveling to programs distinguishes us in the summer student travel industry.
Risk is reduced by adhering to our well-documented safety protocols for sporting and adventure activities as well as day-to-day supervision. We continuously audit and review our risk management practices. We stay prepared through industry events and the use of outside experts, such as our subscription to iJet international security alerts. Our goal is to reduce avoidable risks.
In addition to physical safety, we put an emphasis on social safety. By having our Planning Department prepare well-researched and detailed itineraries, our summer Leaders can give their full attention to our group dynamics. Our Program Leaders are skilled at forming cohesive groups and follow a plan for the first 48-hours, complete with games and lots of mingling, to get everyone quickly moving beyond first impressions. This warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment helps travelers feel right at home. To help make this possible, participants are asked to join us with a positive attitude, open to meeting others and trying new things.
Participants are expected to act in a safe, responsible and respectful manner, and follow our policies. All participants agree to follow our Student & Parent Expectations Agreement, which outlines our policies. Your actions have a direct impact on your safety and the safety of your fellow trip mates. We will not tolerate conduct that endangers the student, others, or is otherwise detrimental to the program and as such, some policies are zero tolerance and will result in dismissal.
Changes to Itineraries
We will not hesitate to change an itinerary at the last moment for the safety of our travelers. And have done so in the past. We are experienced at monitoring situations whether that be forest fires in the western USA, transit strikes or political protests. In such cases, there are often many factors to be weighed and we are pleased to review how we have managed situations in the past for the best interests of our students and staff.
Extra Peace of Mind
We subscribe to iJET Integrated Risk Management international security alerts that help us avoid threats in real time and help protect our students around the world. This investment in monitoring potential threats keeps everyone informed and can help prevent problems before they occur, raising our level of preparedness.
The goal of the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) is to encourage the highest standards within the student & youth travel community, by enforcing a strict code of ethics and stringent membership criteria. As an accredited member, we adhere to a series of objective criteria including: financial stability, proper insurance for customers, vendors and employees; soundness of operating procedures; and overall safety measures for customers, vendors and employees. SYTA states you can travel with confidence as “SYTA-approved tour operator members have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to safety. They are educated in safety standards, have access to the latest safety planning resources, and are thoroughly trained in safety protocols.”
The National Tour Association (NTA) is a prestigious travel organization and membership involves maintaining strict requirements including ethical, financial and professional standards resulting in public confidence in its members. As a member, we share knowledge and stay abreast of industry news as it relates to travel in North America.
In 2017, a near-perfect 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us.