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World Challenge

(30 Posts)
higgle Wed 30-Mar-11 15:24:11

DS2 is in year 11, and will be doing GCSEs very shortly. This week the school arranged a presentation by World Challenge to promote a 4 week trip after A levels in 2 year's time.

The "expedition" is to Ecquador and the Galapagos Islands and sounds really exciting in many respects. The cost is £4,200 and those going are expected t raise this themselves, though I expect a lot of those who go will be heavily subsidised. DS2 really would like to go, and quite a few of his friends are saying they will be signing up.

I'm not sure this is a good idea at all. They said you would "go a boy, and return a man" but teachers are going too and it is all comprehensively risk assessed. I think that at 18 and having finished school I'd rather my son was thinking about some independent work and travel, rather than this rather sanitised version, and he would get a lot more of that for his money.

My second misgiving is the cost, and the fgact that we really cannot afford to subsidise this apart from possibly a very token amount. DS2 is talking about getting a job, and fund raising but he needs a job to save up a bit of a buffer for when he goes to university, and I can't see him saving much more than the cost of the challenge ovewr the next two years.

Part of me wants to say "Yes" he would undoubtedly have a great time, and it would be a good experience for him, but I would prefer him not to have the worry of fundraising when he is doing his A level course, and planning an Oxford application.

Of course he does spend loads of time on facebook and texting and dossing about anyway and it would be a good thing to have him engaged in getting ready for this project in his unproductive hours.

Does anyone else on here have any experience of World Challenge or have children who have decided to go their own way instead of joining in something like this? All views gratefully received!

adamschic Wed 30-Mar-11 15:33:26

It's exactly the same challenge that some of DD's friends are about to go on. We went to the meeting and I told DD no!

The true cost of the trip has amounted to around £6,000 for one month when you add on injections, spending money and training. I think it's excessive no matter how much of an experience it is. I bribed DD and told her I would buy her a round the world ticket for her gap year instead and am going to do this, costs around £900. We asked how they realistically expected to fund raise enough to cover the cost and they said well they can work to pay for it!

Her friends have managed to raise about £1,700 each towards it, so unless you are prepared to stump up the rest I would think very carefully about it.

Also with my DD she has been on a few school trips abroad and doesn't enjoy paying to be told what she can do by teachers and will grow up enough on her gap year.

Of course this is just my opinion and it will be interesting to hear other view of parents who's DC's have actually taken part.

mumblechum1 Wed 30-Mar-11 15:36:42

DS's year were invited to do this two years ago, and he would have been 16 (this summer) when it happens. Fortunately he wasn't particularly interested as it was Vietnam and Cambodia and he didn't fancy the sweaty jungly aspect (more of a California surfing type).

I'm convinced we would have ended up paying for 90% for it so was quite relieved. The people in his year who did sign up have mainly fallen by the wayside, after raising and paying around half of the cost, which is non refundable.

I agree with you that by 18, they should be going off and having their own adventures without teachers around.

DS went off to the States by himself last year at 15 and that was quite enough of an adventure.

adamschic Wed 30-Mar-11 15:40:34

Also 'go away a boy and come back a man' what does that mean, grin.

There are a couple of little feckers going in DD's year that could do with a major growing up expedition. Remains to be seen how they are when they return but I doubt much changes.

scaryteacher Wed 30-Mar-11 16:44:05

For me Higgle, it is the fact that if you don't raise all the money to go, World Challenge keeps what you have raised and that they are relying on teenage inertia to get funding.

higgle Wed 30-Mar-11 17:08:53

Thanks for the replies so far - adamschic, I have also been thinking that there would be quite a lot extra to pay for - boots, rucksack, transport and antimalarials are all very expensive. They did sort of warn us that if you drop out you would not get a full refund. I can't understand why the school is being so pushy about it as there is another "expedition" to Morocco which has not had a presentation yet, but they seem to be steering parents towards this one - do they get a big commission I wonder?

adamschic Wed 30-Mar-11 17:33:15

Either on commission or the teachers want to go for free. You get told that it will broaden their horizons, character buidling etc, which whilst I am sure it is true they do say that about D of E etc. Also they sell it as looking good on UCAS forms but I've heard that often these things arent valued by unis as they aren't inclusive for people who don't have parents prepared to pay such a huge amount.

I reckon from personal experience that travelling for a longer period of time on a gap year is very much character building and even better if someone does some voluntary and paid work in a foreign country that they have had to arrange themselves.

chopchopbusybusy Wed 30-Mar-11 17:35:54

I went to a presentation with DD1 for a similar trip to Borneo. I didn't have to say an outright no because she decided herself after a couple of days that it was just too expensive. I know she would have a great time but I did question how much of an 'experience' it would be.
She's only just managed to find some part time work, so either she would have had to cancel and lose money or we would have had to pay up.

serin Thu 31-Mar-11 23:10:28

Ridiculous waste of money. My DH helps with University applications and what they really value is evidence of a long term commitment to extra curricular acitivities (bronze, sliver and gold DofE, sustained voluntary work or hobbies pursued to a high level).

What on earth does a 4 week holiday tell a university about the applicant, other than they have well off parents and know how to waste money???

Divawithattitude Thu 31-Mar-11 23:28:02

My son went at 16 after GCSE's to Mexico and had an abolutely amazing time. The cost was around £3000 and it did do him the world of good, he came back a different person.

I had a range of issues with the management of the relationship between the school and world challenge, the management of the trip whilst in Mexico and the total lack of interest from the member of staff who got a free place - but that is another story!

They did lots of fund raising as a group and it really taught my lad the value of having to raise the money to go, they ran quiz nights, sold quiz papers for £1 each, washed cars, cooked chilli's and packed bags in a local supermarket.

It also gave him the confidence to go travelling at 18 with his girlfriend to Cambodia Loas and Thailand.

Divawithattitude Thu 31-Mar-11 23:30:28

Oh and it wasn't a 'holiday' - they worked in a village installing piped water and building a classroom for the school, they trekked through jungle which was hard going, climbed a volcano - they did the same sort of training as is required for the Dof E gold award in terms of fitness.

cyrilsneer Fri 01-Apr-11 08:40:17


I don't have any experience with this particular organisation but I think that some of these things can be a bit of a racket. Someone, somewhere is probably making a fortune.

Serin is spot on, that universities and potential employers look for long-term sustained commitment, not who bought a £4k/4 week trip.

I also get a bit fed up of being asked, endlessly, to sponsor kids wanting to do these sorts of things. I never feel able to say no when I get emailed the link to the justgiving sponsorship page but actually we choose to donate what we can to our own chosen charities by direct debit and have to make decisions about what opportunities our children are able to take up based on financial circumstances.

My DD17 has a part-time job and is saving up to go inter-railing after A'levels.

higgle Sun 03-Apr-11 18:58:14

Good News! Although DS2 and most of his friends were very enthusiastic after the presentation most of them now feel the fundraising would be an enormous task, take up all thier spare time for 2 years and that they can travel after A levels on their own or on another arranged trip for far less.

I'm so pleased my son came to this conclusion himself, as I was dreading a situation where he really wanted to go and I continued to have reservations.
Thanks for all the comments and advice.

adamschic Sun 03-Apr-11 19:24:25

Glad he saw sense. Quite a few of DD's friends were enthusiastic too, after we discussed it straight after the presentation and decided no. Most realised and didn't sign up, a few mugs students are due to go soon.

Hengameh Mon 04-Apr-11 22:17:15

DD did this and I'm with Diva re management of the trip.

She raised all the cash herself. that was the best experience for her. None of it was sponsorship - it was all work and other enterprise.

The WC is expensive and I'd love to see where the money goes because they give precious little support at school. The school teachers have a fantastic paid for expedition so I can see why they promote it.

For your money it's poor value

higgle Tue 05-Apr-11 09:40:00

2 or 3 of DS's friends (including his present girlfriend) have decided to go, so I shall look on with interest to see how the fundraising goes and whether parents have to chip in very much. Unfortunately DS will be amongst the first who have to pay the increaed tuition fees, and with the way things are in general I'd like to think that if he manages to save a couple of thousand or so he will have a cushion for when he leaves home

Greenwing Fri 08-Apr-11 19:31:06

As a teacher I have worked in schools which do various trips. From my experience World Challenge is very expensive. I agree, there is much more you/he could do with the money. £1000 would give him a fantastic inter-railing trip around Europe with real independence.

ZukiLJ Sat 09-Apr-11 18:16:47

Hi, I'm new to mumsnet and I really wish I'd joined 17 years ago when I first became a mum! I read this thread with interest as I would like to organise trips for school leavers to learn about the realities of life in India and Zambia, the actual causes of poverty and what they can do differently not during a 4 week trip but for the rest of their lives, to make the world a fairer place. After 15 years of working with charities and seeing global poverty increase, I feel a different approach is needed. It would take about four weeks and would include training in communications skills so they can tell the world about what they're learning. It could happen at the beginning of a gap year so that it helps to inform their thinking for the rest of the year. What do other mums think of this idea? How much do you feel it would be reasonable to charge for this? I hope it isn't inappropriate to ask this kind of thing on this forum? Many apologies if so. I am exploiting every avenue, including interrogating DD's friends - much to her annoyance!

IdontknowwhyIcare Sun 10-Apr-11 09:40:02

Funny ZukiLJ that you should post now. DS (15) friends have just gone on a WC trip to Ethiopia. Last year they went to Kenya. I have always been surprised that DS has refused to go. Basically he says too much time travelling and arsing around and not enough time building mud huts, painting etc doing anything useful. He very much wants to go in his gap year, should he/we ever be able to afford one with uni fees. We got all the bollocks feedback last year on how it was life changing etc. Personally there are quite a lot of life changing things you can do that dont require you to spend a fortune and be nursemaided in order to do it IMHO.

He and I would be happy to answer your questions if you could be a tad more specific. We are well into holiday brain here as its the second week already.

tallaballa Tue 05-Jul-11 10:14:15

Thank you mumsnet! My DS came home last week with the same World Challenge trip to Ecquador / Galapagos islands and I was very concerned how he would raise £5000, as he is very smart but lazy! I did some research and found the discussions on mumsnet. My husband and I tried to talk to my son and reason with him but he kept saying we always say "NO" and make things difficult for him. Finally I showed him the discussions among other mums and how almost all mums agreed that a 14 year old boy can't raise that kind of money......He read all the messages with interest and then said OK, you are right!!!!!!! The next morning he told me that he was relieved and that he didn't really want the pressure of working and worrying about raising money when he should be studying for his GCSE's!!!!!!! Thank you to all of you for sharing your thoughts. As a result I have now joined mumsnet!

higgle Wed 13-Jul-11 11:58:58

I'd like to update on this one now. After the initial enthusiasm for the trip amongst DS2's friends about 20 of his year signed up. now about 1/2 of them have dropped out, leaving mainly those with well off parents still committed. DS2 decided to travel with friends after his A levels and has recently got his first part time job. He says that he would feel pressured if it was the case that everything he earned was having to go to the trip and is enjoying his work because he gets more freedom and independence now he has some money of his own.

lilolilmanchester Sat 16-Jul-11 20:05:25

Not been around much and missed this thread earlier.... my DS is about to do World Challenge. Cost for him: £3500 for the base trip; about £200 for kit; and about £450 for injections/anti-malarials. And have probably missed a few bits so probably £4500 all in. He earned half of that with a part-time job/car boots/joint team fundraising. Kit has been bought with money from last 2 birthdays and Christmas. We will go on holiday while he's away so will contribute what we won't be spending on his flight/accomodation/food. Agree, it is a huge amount of money - but it a month away does cost a lot of money and it's a great experience,. It is well regarded by universities and employers. Obviously there are cheaper alternatives. Whether it delivers on the promise of the immature boy I send away coming back a man, I will let you know....

Lilymaid Sat 16-Jul-11 20:28:55

DS went on a World Challenge trip to South Africa/Lesotho at the end of Y12. It was very expensive - he raised some money through a lot of supermarket bag packing with the school group, other money came from his weekend job, birthday/Christmas money and from us.
He had a great time and through visiting a school in Lesotho and helping in a project there, he became aware of what it is like in the developing world - particularly the dedication of the students who would walk for hours to get to school each day!
I don't think it or DofE or anything else had any effect on his university applications. He got offers from all the universities he applied to - but that was because he chose sensibly.
Now he's at university he's worked as a camp counsellor at summer camp in the USA -- a very great contrast to Lesotho!

Batteryhuman Mon 18-Jul-11 19:59:41

As an aside I really hate being asked at work to "sponsor" colleagues' (mainly senior and far far better paid colleagues) teenagers to do this, especially when the "reward" on offer is a chance to read their (badly written) expedition diary. Tapping up your parents colleagues and business contacts is not fundraising, nor (apologies Lilymaid) is tapping up strangers for a pound in the supermarket for packing shopping.

Surely all it says on university applications is "I have rich parents and lack the initiative to plan my own gap year".

<bitter and twisted emoticon>

mwarden Tue 29-Sep-15 13:02:22

Thanks for all of the posts. As a teacher who organises World Challenge expeditions at a girls school, it is interesting to read the thoughts you have posted about teachers. There is no incentive at all to run a World Challenge program at a school - nobody I know gets paid for it. While teachers do go for free, I have never heard of any type camp for students where the teacher has to pay so why should this expedition be any different?? Whilst on the expedition, teachers are on duty 24/7 and have to be proactive (about safety, emotional distress, stress and anxiety) and not just "go along for the ride". The only way this expedition differs from a traditional school camp is that the students run the expedition and the teachers should not take control (the World Challenge leader has complete control) which is something many teachers find difficult as it could mean going somewhere without the required food/equipment, staying with students whilst in hospital for prolonged periods, not participating in activities when other students cannot and accompanying students to tourist attractions they have no interest in seeing (I know these do NOT always happen and most of the time everybody is having a great time but please be aware there are times when things do not go according to (my/WC leader) plan).
Before the expedition, there are days and days of planning behind the scene:
* writing a submission to school council to approve the expedition.
* recruiting teachers willing to participate.
* researching and deciding on a destination before negotiating with other travel companies to get the most inclusive tour, safest backup/emergency services and best prices for the students.
* advertising the Launch Information Session.
* collecting the reply slips and then the deposits, Application Forms, Schedule Forms (and a school contract notice that we wrote).
* checking the students with year level coordinators and the student welfare coordinator to ensure they have no concerns about the students applying.
* working out friendship groups to build the teams.
* planning the Challenge meeting for students to discuss their itinerary.
* many emails informing World Challenge of any changes to teams or itinerary and many emails with families to discuss their concerns.
* organising the T-shirt order and distribution.
* running monthly meetings to check progress of fund raising, kit purchase, fitness levels, medical concerns.
* planning and running fund raising activities such as walkathons, trivia nights (not very popular at my school but they are still advertised). On average I also write about 20 "Letters of introduction" for students wanting to apply for a job or for a BBQ to raise funds
* emailing families about forthcoming events (information sessions, fund raising activities, training camps, kit hints, etc).
* organising and supervising fortnightly walks with backpacks starting 12 months pre expedition departure.
* attending the 1 day teacher World Challenge conference and the 2 day Training camp.
* completing evaluation of the program whilst on expedition and then after.
* reporting the success of the expedition at a staff meeting, in the newsletter and annual report as well as giving out the Completion certificates.
* I have also been (subtly) coerced by my last expedition team to participate in the World Challenge Amazing Race in which we ran around the whole course and the students won US$300 towards their expedition.

I would imagine that many teachers who plan and attend "traditional" school camps would NOT have to complete all of the above activities.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post smile

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