Does this summer trip sound too good to be true? It may, but don’t worry it’s definitely not a dream, it’s the ultimate west coast road trip for students! From San Fran and Lake Tahoe in Northern Cal, cruise down the coast and fall in love with the beaches of Santa Barbara and the most famous hotspots in LA & San Diego as you experience SoCal. Then venture into the American Southwest exploring the majesty of the area’s diverse landscape and dramatically changing scenery with a stay in Vegas and grand finale in beautiful Scottsdale. With so much adventure and excitement, you’ll be thrilled it’s reality and agree it is one unbelievable trip!
This trip begins with your flight to San Francisco. We help you coordinate your flight to arrive within designated times so that we may greet you upon arrival. For participants from the New York area, we offer a chaperoned group flight that leaves early morning. One of your summer leaders and staff from our office will be at the airline counter to greet you, introduce you to fellow travelers, help you to check-in and the leader will be with you from check-in onward.
For your return home from Phoenix, we head to the airport for morning flights. Our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed. For those from the New York area we offer a chaperoned flight.
Welcome to the City by the Bay. After our orientation, you’re off to ride the famous cable car into Chinatown! Visit Alcatraz*, explore Pier 39 and see its famous residents (the sea lions), sample fresh seafood near Fisherman’s Wharf, taste chocolate in Ghirardelli Square, wobble down the most crooked street in the world, walk Golden Gate Bridge, cheer on the A’s or the Giants and so much more!
*As per the National Park Service, we disclose that Alcatraz tour has a retail value of $36.55 included in the trip tuition.
Take on whitewater rapids on a river adventure. The next day, unwind on the shore of Lake Tahoe under the California sunshine, take a swim and play beach volleyball. Go waterskiing with professional instructors or go tubing or wakeboarding before our sailing cruise around the lake on our private charter.
Unpack your bags at UC Santa Barbara, one of the country’s top public universities with its sprawling landscapes, ocean views, and view over the lagoon to one of the Channel Islands. Enjoy a relaxing beach day, go for a swim or play a pickup game of soccer in the sand… don’t forget the sunscreen!
UCLA, an incredible college campus spread across 419 acres at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, is our home for the next 5 nights. Tour the world’s most famous back lot on the Universal Studio’s Studio Tour and come face-to-face with Jaws, King Kong, the Mummy and other Hollywood stars. Additionally, explore Universal Studios Los Angeles’ newest attraction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! In between thrills at Universal and the Wizarding World, you might catch a live shooting of EXTRA with Mario Lopez! Look for your favorite celebrities on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and compare handprints with the stars outside of Mann’s Chinese Theater. Check out the characters on Venice Beach, watch for celebrities on Rodeo Drive, and watch today’s hottest comedians at the IMPROV. Stroll into the trendy college town of Westwood Village for the best ice cream sandwich. Give back at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Spend the day at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland, featuring the new ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ attraction. Sample delicious treats at the Original Farmers Market on Fairfax & 3rd, choose from over 100 different cuisines.
Enjoy the warm California sun and cool ocean breeze as you learn to surf with professional instructors. Take a guided tour through the San Diego Zoo; be sure to keep your eyes open for the famous panda bear exhibit. Check out Seaport Village, and take part in an epic laser tag battle with your trip mates.
To quote Elvis Presley, “Viva Las Vegas!” Stroll the world famous strip and see all the sites you may recognize from TV and the movies – the Venetian’s canals as seen in the movie Rat Race, the erupting volcano at the Mirage, the forum shops and Coliseum at Caesars Palace featured in episodes of Friends, Will & Grace and the Sopranos and the MGM’s casino robbed by Danny in Ocean’s Eleven. Scream from the top of the Stratosphere on one of the world’s three highest thrill rides: Big Shot, Insanity or X-Scream.
Marvel at the colors of the sandstone cliffs and valleys contrasting against a beautiful blue sky in Zion National Park. Be amazed by the red, orange and white hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Hike the Bright Angel Trail for breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.
Enjoy a rugged Pink Jeep tour with the iconic backdrop of Sedona’s famous red-rock formations such as Bell Rock, Chapel Butte or the Rock of Gibraltar. See the views from Submarine Rock or Chicken Point and hold on tight as you go around Mushroom Rock and descend down the Road of No Return! Head to the resort to work out, tan or lounge by the pool. Enjoy our farewell dinner and cherish memories that last well beyond summer’s end!
Once your action-packed day is over, you’re going to need a place to crash. You will enjoy a combination of the finest centrally located hotels and resorts and a fantastic UCLA college residence stay to get a taste of college life.
You will stay in the finest hotels and resorts. All of our properties are chosen based on safety and security, amenities, comfort and location to our activities. Rooms vary from doubles to triples. Triples may contain two beds and a rollaway or be a suite style with a sofa bed. Each trip member has their own bed.
Located on San Francisco Bay, the newly renovated Embassy Suites Burlingame – Waterfront hotel features stunning bay views, Spanish-style architecture, a tropical koi pond and is set alongside a waterfront jogging trail. Accommodations are spacious with living areas and the amenities include an indoor pool and gym.Visit Website
Located on the slopes of Squaw Valley, this property is a spectacular year-round vacation destination. The condominium suites combine all the comforts of home with the finest of hotel service and amenities. The lodge includes a fitness center and spas, swimming pool and patio, sauna and steam room.Visit Website
Located just minutes from the beautiful seaside village of La Jolla, the Embassy Suites San Diego – La Jolla hotel is an all-suites hotel, with each two-room suite offering plenty space to spread out and relax. When not out playing in San Diego, take advantage of the indoor swimming pool and hot tub, or Fitness Center, fully-equipped with cardio machines and weights.Visit Website
Located on famous Las Vegas Boulevard, “The Strip”, this pyramid-shaped hotel offers a unique way to experience the over-the-top décor for which Vegas is famous! The pool deck is one of the largest in Las Vegas, with a choice of 4 pools to enjoy – the perfect place to cool off from all the excitement and bright lights of the city!Visit Website
Guests will enjoy the Western welcome of this hotel in Kanab. From the heated indoor pool to the high-speed Internet access amid its Western style, the hotel will make your stay as memorable as the magnificent scenery around you!Visit Website
The SpringHill Suites in Flagstaff is a great place to relax after an awe-inspiring day at the Grand Canyon. The hotel’s stylish suites feature modern décor. Enjoy the on-site fitness center and indoor pool!Visit Website
The Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains is a luxurious all-suite resort-style hotel. The resort features spectacular desert mountain views, spacious guest room suites, a fabulous pool and hot tub and a fitness center.Visit Website
Get a taste of the college lifestyle on world class campuses and as time permits, take advantage of incredible facilities.
The UCLA campus is so amazing that after your stay here, you might not be able to wait to send in your application. Enjoy their unmatched facilities and check out the bookstore in the Ackerman Union (the perfect place to pick up a great hoodie). You know you can wear it with pride, as UCLA was the first US College to win 100 team championships.Visit Website
UC Santa Barbara is one of the country’s top public universities with its sprawling landscapes, ocean views, and view over the lagoon to one of the Channel Islands. Known to be a “Public Ivy” and with notable alumni like Gwyneth Paltrow and singer-song writer Jack Johnson, you will have the opportunity to sport your blue & gold and show your Gaucho pride.Visit Website
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 USA, 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.
Your summer of a lifetime starts with us carefully crafting the perfect program. Our team is dedicated year round to creating exciting, meaningful experiences! You have a detailed itinerary, but not one that is so rigid that you lose chances for spontaneity! Our Trip Planning Department pays painstaking attention to detail, sweating the small stuff so that your summer experience is stress free. Our trips are designed with a very logical flow: action, adventure and excitement balanced with structured downtime and relaxation. There is a reason our itineraries are known to be “Perfectly Planned. Perfectly Paced.” Our year-round team has 499 summers combined working with teenagers and we understand what you’re looking for. We describe our trips in as much detail as these web pages allow, but to truly appreciate the flow of a particular program, please speak with us to review the trip of your choice.
Get ready because your summer is not going to be spent staring out of a window! For starters, our Active Teen Tours are very different from tours your parents may have gone on. We are always on the lookout for the newest and coolest activities including whitewater rafting in Lake Tahoe, riding thrill rides hundreds of feet over the Vegas strip, Pink Jeep Tour through Sedona’s red rocks, and surfing in San Diego. It’s much more exciting than summer camp. Depending on the specific itinerary, add in nights out at comedy clubs, baseball games, nightclubs and amusement parks and you know you’re in for a treat.
But “active” also means you get to play a big part in how the summer turns out. We want you engaged and are interested in what you have to say. You have a role in this trip and how it gets molded.
There is so much more to a teen travel experience than just traveling. Summer after summer we love nothing more than the many calls and notes from parents sharing with us how they can’t believe how much their son or daughter has matured, helps out more at home, is more outgoing and confident, is more poised, more responsible and more worldly having had not just the summer of a lifetime, but a life changing experience as well. It’s amazing how much growth can occur when you are having fun, feeling socially safe, branching out into new friendships, and being yourself.
Our experience lends itself to trying new things and stepping just outside of one’s comfort zone. With a taste of age-appropriate independence and a well-deserved break from overly scheduled lives during the school year, teens can enjoy a very healthy reprieve from the usual pressures associated with home and school. We want you to be empowered and will provide opportunity to grow as a leader and further develop your self-confidence!
Living, experiencing, working and learning together, our trip members are afforded the chance to interact with other teens who share both similar and different backgrounds and interests. Everybody grows in their social acceptance of others.
By the end of the program we hope to have lit a spark – to travel, to learn, to meet new people, to try new things and to explore. With new friendships, new memories and new life skills on which to build, our teen travel experiences are truly unforgettable.
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 planning, supervisory and management team is an incredible resource with 499 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 212 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 and dinner daily, lunches as indicated on your specific program, gratuities, taxes, land transportation, accommodations, and fanatical customer service from our full-time team and summer Communication Centers. This can add up to tremendous value!
A big part of a summer’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. Our North American Active Teen Tour programs visit great restaurants. Depending on the specific itinerary, you may order off the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, Romano’s Macaroni Grill or Hard Rock Cafe. Still hungry? Here are more of the places you may enjoy… Jack Astor’s, Boudin Bakery and some really great local favorites like a Boulder institution featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
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. Please speak with us to review your needs.
On our North American Active Teen Tours, you’ll ride in a chartered deluxe, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver. Buses have entertainment systems for music and movies. Coaches are outfitted with seatbelts.
You will only need to bring one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in our packing list as we visit local laundromats weekly. We will supply the detergent and dryer sheets. Don’t worry if you’ve never done laundry before, most 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. Parents, we know the thought of your children doing laundry is making you smile!
We believe in promoting responsibility and community, and have a long history of helping charitable organizations. We volunteer each summer at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank on our trips that visit LA, along with other worthwhile agencies on our trips that do not include Los Angeles. (Groups that are exclusively completing 7th and 8th grade are too young for the LAFB and other activities are planned.) Students on our programs have helped dozens of organizations serving thousands in need ranging from building homes from scratch with Habitat for Humanity to running day camps for the Boys & Girls Clubs. Last summer we completed 23,201 hours of service (that’s equivalent to 2.6 years!) in just 8 weeks.
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!