Given the evolving global health environment, rest assured we are monitoring, adapting and staying well-informed. We use multiple sources to make informed decisions including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Travel & Tourism Council, National Tour Association, Student & Youth Travel Association and our infectious disease physician. Please refer to our Health Protocols for details about immunizations and COVID-19 policies.
Thorough Planning & Supplier Screening
Our planning department specializes in creating detailed itineraries where every location and activity meets our high safety 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 pre-approved 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 in-person site inspections, vetting activity suppliers, researching accommodations, and reviewing routes and access to medical care.
Highly Qualified Leaders
Our selectivity is second to none. Our offices in four different cities provide a wide geographic talent pool, with over 1,000 applicants annually. The interview process includes individual interviews, reference and background checks, and driver’s license checks as necessary. Many are experienced educators, coaches, camp leaders, and lifeguards. All staff are required to hold valid CPR and First Aid certificates.
Our comprehensive training programs are unparalleled in our industry. Ranging from one week for Program Directors and three-days for Program Leaders, we reinforce our safety protocols and procedures through role-playing exercises and review of detailed written manuals. 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 make a request (in writing). We provide additional training for anaphylactic allergies and are happy to accommodate most dietary restrictions. In the unlikely event of a medical emergency, access to medical care has already been determined prior to departure.
24/7 Summer Communication Centers
Our two dedicated communication centers act as the 24/7 link between parents and the program staff. Program Directors check in with leaders on a daily basis to collect messages and provide 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 Support Visits
Our Company Directors and Regional Support Staff, make regularly scheduled support visits to programs in order to provide ongoing support and mentoring in the field. These senior staff members make over 200 visits to help all programs run safely and smoothly. These visits are an integral part of our quality control. 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 Crisis24 security alerts and our membership with Cornerstone Safety Group. Our goal is to reduce avoidable risks.
In addition to physical safety, we put an emphasis on the social safety and comfort of all participants. With well-researched and detailed itineraries, our leaders can give their full attention to creating positive group dynamics. Our leaders are skilled at forming cohesive groups and get everyone quickly moving beyond first impressions (ask us about our Social Integration Plan). This warm, welcoming, and inclusive environment helps travelers feel right at home, whether they join our programs on their own or with a friend. 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 participants. We will not tolerate conduct that endangers anyone or is otherwise detrimental to the program. 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 potentially threatening 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 with you how we have managed situations in the past for the best interests of our students and staff.
Extra Peace Of Mind
We subscribe to Crisis24 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 raises our level of preparedness, helping to prevent problems before they occur.
With expertise in risk management, medical and mental health, our membership with Cornerstone Safety Group supports our well-established safety protocols. Key resources include risk management planning and on-call medical and mental health professionals that can provide guidance if situations arise during the summer.
We are also proud members of the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) and the National Tour Association (NTA). These memberships involve maintaining strict requirements in financial stability, proper insurance for customers, vendors and employees; soundness of operating procedures; and overall safety measures for customers, vendors and employees.
Westcoast Connection has been awarded the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council. This stamp is an international symbol designed to allow travelers to recognize companies globally, which have adopted proper, standardized health and hygiene protocols. Nothing is more important than our travelers’ physical safety and comfort.