Camps International

(29 Posts)
Leeds2 Fri 19-Oct-12 17:38:54

Have had an email from DD's (year 10) school about a month long Camps International trip to Africa in the summer of 2014. Most of the trip seems to be doing charity type things (painting classrooms, planting seeds etc), although there are some fun things included, such as mountain hiking and going on safari. The cost of the trip is expected to be about £3,500, and the email says that the students are expected to raise much of the money themselves. School have said that they will support them in this.

So, has anybody's son or daughter been on a Camps International trip, and what did you/they think of the trip, and what they got out of it? Also, does anyone have any fundraising ideas that would be suitable?

Thanks for any input!

Cooroo Sat 04-May-13 10:51:57

Oh, this is rather old! Any news?

I'm in same position as you - DD16 really wants to go. Also Summer 2014. It all looks impressive but...

They want paying by monthly direct debit, with monthly payments of about £280 IIRC. Not to mention £200 deposit next week!

It's all well and good, but if DD doesn't raise £280 every month (quite a tall order) who has to find the money? And if we don't raise enough she can't go, no money back. OK if that's funds donated as it mostly gets used for charitable purposes, but if I've had to scrape around, borrow off family etc, then it's gone.

Do they get booted off as soon as you miss a payment??

So please - anyone's DC managed to raise the money? I'm in the awkward position of not having been paid this month, looks like employer in serious shit, so finances are not good at all! I don't want to commit to this at such a difficult time.

BadgerB Sat 04-May-13 18:06:30

I get cross with these expensive 'holidays' - which is basically what they are. Wouldn't it be better, and more charitable, to send just a fraction of the huge amount of money which will need to be raised and let the locals do the work themselves? They would no doubt make a better job of it that school kids, and it would provide employment. Some company organising these things is taking a big rake-off

Cooroo Sun 05-May-13 09:31:37

Well Camp Int do seem to run permanent projects, do necessary things and employ local people. I think the benefits of the school trips are pretty much one way. Our kids get to see and work with a different culture, with elephants and mountains thrown in!

What annoys me is it's all 'the kids fund raise their money' but parents has to do a direct debit so if DD hasn't raised her £280 one month I have to find the shortfall or she is off the trip and no refund!

Would love to hear from parents who've been through this one way or the other.

crunched Tue 14-May-13 12:10:12

My DS is currently fundraising for Camp Int trip to Borneo in 2014. He has done two car boot sales and is planning an overnight 30 mile sponsored walk plus a few car-washes and cake sales with his mates. TBH the amount he is likely to raise will fall way short of the cost but he feels he is making an effort and I feel he is learning some new life skills along the way.

I understand from friends whose children have done Camp Int previously, it gave their children quite a lot to put on UCAS forms and seemed to be looked on favourably by Universities, particularly if studying International Relations, Geography or Environmental Sciences.

PJW22 Wed 16-Oct-13 15:22:41

Our Daughter (14) came home with a letter from school & told us all about this trip to Cambodia she wanted to go on in 2015, & how it would be a once in a lifetime experience !
We attended a meeting about the trip last night at her School...and we really do have some serious concerns about it.
First & foremost the cost of this trip is over £3,500.00 for 4 weeks !
The Idea is that the Students dedicate a lot of time & effort in to fundraising & getting sponsorship for this trip ? BUT...a deposit of either £200 or almost £350.00 (depending on which method of payment you choose) has to be paid next week, and if you opt for the monthly Direct Debit payment option payments of over £200.00 are taken every month - Starting next month !
If you get part way through paying for the trip & your Daughter/Son decide they don't won't to go or can't go...you get absolutely nothing back !
The person giving the talk about Camps International & the trip was very well briefed with what was basically a sales pitch.
They put a chart up on the screen that showed where all the money went, and she seemed to really emphasis the point that only 2.5% was profit. Well, with just one group of 20 students paying approx £75,000.00...Camps International are making at least £1,800.00 profit from just that one group !
And I suspect they will also be getting heavily discounted flights etc...so you can rest assured that they are probably making money on the flights as well.
You then get on to issues like the work the students have to do, anything from painting school class rooms & planting seeds...to helping with the installation of wells and clean water supplies ?
Sorry, but this is the responsibility of the countries own Government...sending bus loads of School children from this country to "sort out their problems" is not the answer and is akin to putting a little sticky plaster on a gaping wound.
And probably more importantly than any of the above, I'm afraid that, in our opinion at least, The next 18 months are the most important time in a students education & they will have enough on their plate completing course work etc in the run up to their GCSE's in 2015, without having the added pressure of attempting to raise over three & a half grand to go on this trip !
And lastly, we are certainly not very comfortable with the idea of asking people for money... just to enable our child to go on what is, in effect, a very expensive month long working holiday !

Marmitelover55 Wed 16-Oct-13 17:05:11

Our babysitter went on something similar in the summer. She managed to raise all of the money herself through things like babysitting, Saturday job in cafe, organising events such as barn dances and jumble sales etc. she had a fabulous time on her trip.

Bumping this thread, as have just had the same 'sales pitch' as described by PJW22 for Tanzania in 2015.

I would greatly appreciate hearing of any experiences with this company, be they good, bad or indifferent.

sami99 Wed 05-Feb-14 16:47:51

I would also be interested to hear more about experiences with this, DD having got excited about a chance to go to Borneo.

I'm shocked by the cost. And raising the cash by fundraising? On top of GCSE work? And Duke of Edinburgh award and whatever? I don't think looking good on a CV should come into it. Children shouldn't have to worry about their CVs. Is it the norm for families to top up these costs when the children don't fundraise enough? I'm in no position to top up and I definitely don't want to have to ask other family members.

Leeds2 Wed 05-Feb-14 16:56:16

I think it would be very, very hard to raise the money purely from fundraising activities unless your DD's school are very supportive of big, group fundraising events. I think my DD raised something like £30 for events done at school, and there was so much more which could've been done. My emails suggesting things were ignored!

heyl Sat 05-Apr-14 15:58:12

Hi. My son has just decided to withdraw from his trip- only a couple of months after paying the initial deposit - he realised that the fundraising was going to be almost impossible. Anyway, we have just received a bill from Camps International for an additional £1350 on top of the lost £350 deposit for cancelling - half the total fee for the trip for changing his mind two months in. Has anyone else experienced this?

heyl Sat 05-Apr-14 16:03:20

Hi. My son has just decided to withdraw from his trip- only a couple of months after paying the initial deposit - he realised that the fundraising was going to be almost impossible. Anyway, we have just received a bill from Camps International for an additional £1350 on top of the lost £350 deposit for cancelling - half the total fee for the trip for changing his mind two months in. Has anyone else experienced this?

PortofinoRevisited Sat 05-Apr-14 16:26:00

Wow! I have no advice/experience, but this sounds like a big con to me.

clayspaniel Thu 15-May-14 13:19:29

Does anyone else have experience of this?

heyl Thu 15-May-14 16:26:44

I managed to get them to cancel the invoice but only after the school intervened. They said it had been sent in error. I never managed to get his deposit back so he lost £350 altogether for filling in a form - he hadn't had anything else from them except a receipt for the money.

icanlearn2 Mon 19-May-14 23:21:10

I tried to get my money back and they refused. We were definitely told in the sales pitch that if we cancelled, we would lose our deposit. Turns out this is a lie. You lose everything that you've paid (over £1000). I'm now torn between losing that money or carrying on forking out another £3000. The whole experience has put my son off and he doesn't want to go now. He's had some bad money raising experiences (spending hours making cakes and earning £1.50). We've had very little support from school or Camps Int. Someone did put a very accurate blog of the real story (badly erected buildings with little purpose etc) but it has been taken down. I just hope that if he goes, it will be as amazing as they report it to be. I have spoken to some students who went last year and they said it was a worthwhile, life changing experience. It should be at £4000!!!!

LikeMumUsedToMake Wed 21-May-14 18:38:49

Girl Guides run these sorts of trips and the costs are more in the 2,500 to 3,000 range which indicates to me that there is a healthy profit in there. With guides, the leaders have to raise the same amount of money as the guides. My daughter did one a few years ago and she raised the money through a lot of hard work She enjoyed doing the fund raising and matured a lot in the process. Some of it was done as a group but about 80% individually. As parents we bought all ingredients, materials etc for whatever was being made so that any money raised was profit - otherwise it would have been a real slog. The trip itself was a fantastic experience

lucy2244 Sat 31-May-14 16:19:13

Hello, I'm 16 and going on the trip to Tanzania with camps international this summer. Its been hard to gather up all the money and its likely your kids will get tired of fundraising after a couple of months. My parents or relatives have paid for almost all of my trip. There are also lots of unexpected costs such as 2 visas, lots of injections (mine came to about £360) and the list of equipment is painfully long. The initial quote of somewhere around £3700 gets boosted up to into the £4000's which is a hefty cost for a family.
I'm delighted to be going on the trip but the communication with the company hasn't been very good, and the extra costs are not a welcomed surprise. I'm sure it'll be a great experience in the end- though.

Notlob46 Tue 17-Jun-14 12:47:22

Be very careful with Camps International, following all the trouble in Kenya CI are refusing to cancel our schools trip to Kenya and are effectively wanting to send our children to a war zone! They are refusing to refund the money however they are willing to transport our children through Kenya to Tanzania (which in my opinion is just as dangerous!)
And its not only the parents, the children are scared about travelling to Kenya having seen at least 70 people killed over the past 2 days.
Out of around 20 children at least 14 have cancelled and will not get their money back, we the parents are now looking to take legal action against Camps and also we are shortly going to be contacting the press!!
As it states on the top of their webpage ETHICAL JOURNEYS WITHOUT COMPROMISE!! Should read unethical company unwilling to compromise!!

StevenA Sun 22-Jun-14 10:20:14

My daughter came back from school excited about the prospect of going on a CI trip to Peru. Then she told me the cost - around £4000 - to be raised over the next 12 months (by her!).
I attended the 'sales pitch' a week later where the whole event came across as a rather exotic holiday. Undoubtedly it would be an amazing experience for a young person who has only know the UK or been on the odd package tour to Spain.
Unfortunately the 4 weeks adventure which received most of the attention during the presentation had the dark cloud of the 12 months of fundraising that was necessary beforehand.
A quick calculation made that around £300 per month or £75 per week. There was no way my daughter would raise that amount, especially given it would be exam year too. Then there was the issue about refunds if they gave up, already mentioned above.
Of course there are those kids who have the drive and determination to make things happen, so I wouldn't want to deter anyone. However, I am quite certain in our case, I would be footing a large part of the total amount.
So my advice is think carefully and consider the options. I might consider it for half the amount - say in the region of £2000 - which seems a more realistic sum in this current climate.
Given that our Government give so many billions in overseas aid, I cannot understand why they don't run such schemes with some form of sponsorship.
My daughter attends a very ethnically diverse school and in my opinion there is no better way of teaching tolerance and understanding between people than by sharing the same environment and observing different values.

Echo123 Fri 27-Jun-14 09:55:19

Yes we have had an awful time with CI trying to get them to change the venue from Kenya. Had we not been a large group of parents, I doubt anything would have changed at all - their stock line is that they follow FCO advice. Having said that, there were also a handful of parents who thought we were over reacting to the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya. Most of the parents I've spoken to feel annoyed with themselves for falling for the sales pitch. Perhaps CI should have told us that the children need an armed escort for travel in Kenya when the made their sales pitch to us & our school children - I wonder how many would sign up for it then!! They told me that I take a risk every time I step outside my house, but I don't remember ever needing an armed escort with me every time I go to Tesco!

Heels99 Fri 27-Jun-14 10:12:26

To be honest, you can go as a whole family on an adventure holiday to Kenya for not much more, and that is for all the family. A holiday in Borneo including helping at orang sanctuary comes in at under £5k for a family of 4. And these are just through virgin holidays. Nonw of these countries really needs unqualified teenagers turning up to "help out" they have enough unskilled labour already. I would rather spend it ona holiday for the whole family to the same destination,

HDcamps Fri 04-Jul-14 16:26:09

Hi Ladies. I'm Hannah and I work for Camps International in the UK.

This thread has come to my attention so I thought it might be helpful for me to shed a bit of light on some of your queries and concerns.

First and foremost, we understand that our expedition opportunities won't be for everyone, for a variety of reasons. It's great to hear that some of you have attended our parents presentations in several schools recently. We make no secret of the fact that we want to recruit travelling students from every school that we visit, but the evening is not designed to deliver a hard sell. More to give you all of the information that you need to decide, as a family, whether the expedition is right for your son or daughter.

We also realise that the cost of our expeditions are a lot of money by anyones standards! However, we are very proud to be industry leaders who deliver expeditions of unrivalled quality. We offer real value for money when you consider the level of infrastructure and support that we have in place for all of our school expeditions. This ranges from our own permanent camp locations, permanent members of in-country staff, qualified expedition leaders to accompany every team, scheduled in-country transport, all food and drinking water - as well as flights and all of the expedition projects and activities - inc. a trek or an open water scuba qualification.

Whilst the fundraising isn't easy, it is achievable and the frequent success stories that we receive from students is testament to this. Of course every family is different - some will agree to meet their son or daughter half way others will rely entirely on fundraising to pay for the trip. These factors are all part of your decision making process and we understand that. We do offer a staggered payment plan for families who are not keen on the Direct Debit option and we also offer flexibility on the initial deposit amount, on a case by case basis. We try and do as much as we possibly can to make these experiences achievable and manageable for everyone who wants to be involved.

Payments that we receive do become non refundable at certain points during the lead up to travel. This is something that should be made clear in every parents presentation, before you sign up. We hope you can understand that, whilst we are profit making, we have strong philanthropic and ethical objectives. We are continuously investing in to our host countries and committing to projects months in advance. These non-refunable points are also in-line with some key planning dates - such as when we book flights for each of our volunteers.

Finally, I would like to re-assure you that our expeditions are far more than just a holiday. All of our projects are long term, sustainable and designed in partnership with deserving rural communities. The input from our volunteers has a huge impact. Whether it's improving school facilities or planting trees in fragile ecological areas. We also create permanent jobs for local people in all of our destinations which is beyond valuable in areas where poverty is high and employment opportunities low.

As well as this there is a huge emphasis on the learning objectives and personal development of your sons or daughters. Starting with the fundraising all the way through to the expedition itself. This is an unforgettable experience which promotes a huge amount of valuable life skills from leadership to teamwork and problem solving. There is also the fantastic element of pushing young people outside of their comfort zones and providing them with a truly eye opening experience, fully immersed in different cultures and traditions. It is a fantastic introduction to travel for most and certainly something that is held in high regard by Universities and employers.

Phew! That was a seriously long response, but I hope this helps in some way to explain the ethos of Camps International and the way in which we operate. If you have any direct queries please don't ever hesitate to contact us on 01425 485390.

Echo123 Sat 05-Jul-14 22:59:01

Could I therefore suggest that CI make it explicit to all parents during their sales pitches if children need an armed escort on their expeditions. Every single child at our school has failed to fundraise anywhere near the £4000 (ok, just under). Fundraising is time consuming & caused my daughter a lot of stress - not helpful with exams. I have no doubt she will have a wonderful time & I expect it will shake her out of her teenage lethargy, but if we had our time over again, we would not have fallen for their sales pitch & as another person wrote, there are a lot of additional costs. And of course CI are a profit making organisation. Interesting that the CEO works out of an office in the UAE.

icanlearn2 Sat 05-Jul-14 23:25:16

With reference to the statement: "Payments that we receive do become non refundable at certain points during the lead up to travel. This is something that should be made clear in every parents presentation, before you sign up. We hope you can understand that, whilst we are profit making, we have strong philanthropic and ethical objectives. We are continuously investing in to our host countries and committing to projects months in advance. These non-refunable points are also in-line with some key planning dates - such as when we book flights for each of our volunteers"

I tried to cancel a year and 3 months before my son travelled and was told I could not get a refund! Flights have not been booked, the date of travel is still quoted as sometime in July 2015.
I'm not against this organisation, I think it will be a valuable, life changing experience for my son, it's just that we were told categorically that if we cancelled within a reasonable time, we would get a refund, but would lose our deposit, which was fair enough. This turns out not to be true. I would not have entered into this agreement as I know how fickle my son is. He paid the £350 out of his own savings and I made sure he knew that it was a commitment that he would lose the money if he backed out of the trip. Camps gave an excellent sales pitch in a pupil assembly, the parents were then invited to the same one, so he saw it twice and was completely sold on the idea.
After sitting for hours at car boot sales and craft fares making £15 a time, suddenly the thought of raising £4000 is too daunting.

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