Washington, D.C. is not only the vibrant capital of the United States, but it’s also been the home of the American Red Cross National Headquarters since 1881. The Red Cross, through its network of volunteers, donors and partners, is always there to help people affected by disasters, help communities stay safe, teach lifesaving skills and support the U.S. Armed Forces at home and around the world.
During your stay in Washington, D.C., you will discover meaningful ways to make an impact with the largest humanitarian organization in the world. Make a difference by helping keep communities safe from home fire, injury and death, as well as assisting homeless veterans. You will also learn new skills to help those in need as you become CPR/First Aid/AED certified.
The American Red Cross responds to approximately 65,000 plus disasters annually. The majority of these are home fires. That is why the American Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Campaign, which aims to reduce the numbers of fire-related injury and deaths by 25% over 5 years. You will participate in the Campaign and receive training in how to effectively reach out to motivate households to schedule fire alarm installation appointments. You will also be trained to visit identified households to install fire alarms, replace fire alarm batteries, complete fire safety checklists and help develop a disaster plan with each household.
There are between 120,000 and 200,000 homeless veterans in the United States. Totes for Hope is a project of the American Red Cross Service in conjunction with the U.S. armed forces. Totes for Hope helps support these homeless veterans in communities across the country through the donation and packaging of personal care products into convenient tote bags. The assembled totes are then distributed to agencies helping homeless vets.
American Red Cross National Headquarters is an impressive building in Washington, D.C. that was constructed between 1915 and 1917. It serves both as a memorial to women who served in the American Civil War and as the headquarters building for the American Red Cross. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Tour highlights include a visit to the famed Tiffany windows donated by the Woman’s Relief Corps of the North and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. You will also get the chance to view vintage American Red Cross historical artifacts and a unique glimpse at pictures and artwork depicting the relief role the Red Cross played in the World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Would you know what to do if your family, friends or a bystander suffered a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life. The Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED course incorporates the latest science and teaches students to recognize and care for a variety of first aid emergencies such as burns, cuts, scrapes, sudden illnesses, head, neck, back injuries, heat and cold emergencies and how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies to help victims of any age – adults (about 12 years and older) and pediatric (infants and children up to 12 years of age). A digital certificate is issued upon successful course completion with anytime, anywhere access to certificate and training history.
Get a taste of the college lifestyle at American University. Visit trendy Georgetown, and explore the Smithsonian Museums and the Zoo. Check out the monuments on an evening bike ride. Ride the Apocalypse at Six Flags America, the park’s newest roller coaster that travels at 55 mph, and then cool off at Hurricane Harbor in one of the world’s largest wave pools. Visit Baltimore and check out the National Aquarium. Cheer on the Washington Nationals at a baseball game (if they are in town on your program dates).
AU has been ranked #10 Great College Town by Princeton Review. You will experience this yourself as you stay in air-conditioned dorm rooms and take advantage of the university’s full facility gym, swimming pool and convenient location to explore the nation’s capital.
At Westcoast Connection nothing else comes first. From our extensive trip planning department through our management team and our leaders, it is our single biggest priority! Safety procedures, equipment – we’ve got it covered. All Trip Leaders and Directors are certified in First Aid and CPR. We are extremely proud of our safety record and welcome all questions you may have in this area. Please see more under Safety First.
Once you are on your trip, you will have sensitive leaders that are caring, approachable and always there for you. Your Trip Director and Trip Leaders are people with incredible backgrounds including teachers, guitar players, IRONMAN triathletes, SCUBA divers, volunteers, and so much more.
Every staff member takes part in and must complete our extensive training weekends that review our philosophy and procedures to provide a well-supervised and fun-filled program.
Our Trip Directors, the individuals responsible for overseeing each itinerary, take on the roles of teachers, coaches, camp counselors, mentors, concierges and hosts. They’ve been trained to provide individual attention and create an all-inclusive family atmosphere (our EACH & EVERY philosophy). There’s a definite art to building dynamic groups, and we’ve worked hard to master it! We want you smiling on day one right through to a teary goodbye at your farewell banquet.
Our leaders are non-smokers. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Summer Leaders section.
We can’t say it too many times, this is a really incredible group experience. A great dynamic starts with our secrets for group bonding. Our bag of tricks goes way beyond traditional ice breakers. Imagine people hunts, Rock, Paper, Scissors championships, Ninja tournaments, flash mobs and so much more. We work hard to get everyone moving beyond first impressions and creating an atmosphere of total acceptance. Our staff hiring and training emphasizes social safety and establishing an inclusive culture. Many of our travelers come as individuals and we have a geographically diverse enrollment with students joining us from across the U.S., Canada and internationally. This mix helps eliminate cliques at the outset and establish an open environment that benefits you. We take great care in assembling groups to create an unforgettable social experience.
Our service projects can change from one year to the next as we adjust to the needs of the local communities and the guidance of our service partners. This way, our service hours have the greatest impact and move forward the projects with the greatest priority. We also focus on service-learning throughout the process, where education and reflection are key to enriching these experiences for all.
Our groups participate in well-planned and substantial community service projects in between marveling at the Smithsonian Museums and Zoo, biking by the monuments or enjoying the rides at Six Flags America. We know when to pick up the pace to get the adrenaline flowing; we also know when it’s time to chill with some downtime on campus at American University. The balance of service and recreation is what sets our programs apart. By integrating recreational highlights into our itineraries, we are able to maintain a high level of enthusiasm.
If you come prepared with a positive attitude, you will be ready to embrace the challenges and reap the many rewards of these programs. It takes teamwork, cooperation and leadership to succeed in a service project. You are committing yourself to participate in 4 to 6 hours of service on the days that do have service. By giving it your all, you are sure to enjoy incredible memories. You will receive a letter of completion recognizing your hours of service and listing the work you helped to complete.
Westcoast Connection is a Certifying Organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award program was developed in 2003 as a way to honor and thank U.S. citizens and residents who engage in service both domestically and abroad. Presidential recognition of what you have achieved speaks to the type of person you are and hopefully inspires others to take positive action to change the world. The award requires completing 100 hours of community service within a 12 month period. Your service hours with our program qualify towards that total to earn the award.
As you travel to new places and experience different cultures, your journey may challenge your ideas and preconceived notions. We recognize this and strive to provide an environment where you are free to question and learn. This is nurtured by our leaders’ open and non-judgmental guidance. The opportunity for growth through service learning is endless!
Of all our summer programs, community service provides the greatest opportunity to interact with the local people and culture. Being exposed to families and children who have different customs and daily realities can broaden our perspective and raise our awareness of important issues. In a multicultural world, this education can break stereotypes and help us understand the role we play as global citizens.
There really is a difference in how different summer programs operate! Motivated teens going away with qualified leaders is a given. But what sets us apart is the depth of our qualified personnel that allow us to perform with the greatest consistency at the highest level.
Your Trip Director and Trips Leaders are with you throughout your program. They have daily contact with one of our two 24-hour Communication Centers and are in regular contact with our Company Directors. Our Company Directors are the most seasoned veterans who each oversee specific programs providing support to trip staff and to assist with any situations that may arise. Our Company Directors alternate between traveling to visit programs and being reached in the office. Program visits enable us to provide ongoing support and development to our Trip Directors, allows trip staff to have a sounding board for their own progress in reaching trip goals, helps us to identify any challenging areas for improvement while it still has relevance to your summer rather than as a mention on your end-of-summer survey, and helps us to identify the future Directors from the current crop of all-star summer staff. These visits are by Company Directors along with our Regional Supervisors, who are former Trip Directors with further experience out in the field. Collectively our team is an incredible resource with 420+ summers of combined teen travel experience. This way, we can lend a hand wherever and whenever a little extra effort is called for. Last year, we had 208 scheduled supervisory trip visits to make sure all was running well, provide ongoing support to our staff in the field, and have fun! This investment in depth of personnel is unrivaled in teen travel and is a critical element to achieving consistent, excellent program quality and surpassing client expectations!
Included in the trip tuition are all activities and entertainment described, breakfast & dinner daily, 5 lunches, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, CPR/First Aid/AED Course and certificate of completion, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
A big part of your program’s success depends on how well you eat. We are proud of the fact that year after year we are complimented for our quality, quantity and choice of food! Breakfasts on this program are served at the University cafeteria. On the days with service, lunches are either catered boxed lunches or we go to restaurants. On non-service days you eat at restaurants. Dinners are served at restaurants or the American University cafeteria.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive personal experience in this area.
On our Washington service program, you’ll travel in passenger vans that hold 7 people and are driven by our staff.
You only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list as we have the opportunity for laundry weekly.
On our programs within the United States, we will supply the detergent and dryer sheets. Don’t worry if you’ve never done laundry before, many of our travelers have not either. We’ll walk you through the Westcoast Connection laundry lesson and in no time at all you’ll have the hang of it.
While you’re out having the summer of your life, your parents should feel like they are in on the action as well. We post updates to our blog and Facebook page and e-mail photos approximately once a week so those at home can be in on the fun. Parents also have access to our dedicated office Trip Monitors 24/7 for any questions and/or concerns. We’re as in touch as any trip operator could possibly be via smartphones with e-mail and text. The goal is uncompromising safety and peace of mind, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Participants may bring their personal cell phones.
In last summer’s surveys, 98% of responding teens and parents said they would recommend us to others. We must be doing something right!