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Frequently Asked Questions.
Frequently Asked Questions of Educators:
Below are some of the commonly asked questions that educators have asked when deciding whether or not to to plan an education program for their students with American Christian Tours.
While not every question is asked or answered, we encourage you to take a minute to browse through our FAQ's. If there is a question you don't see here, please contact us and let us know.
- What is an Organizer and what is their role?
- Every trip needs an organizer. This person is most often a teacher or administrator, but can also be another school staff person or a volunteer parent. The organizer is our contact with the group.
Occasionally there are two organizers (for example, two eighth grade teachers), but even then we would prefer that one be made the "primary" organizer, so we don't have to track down more than one person every time a decision is to be made. It is the organizer who works with us on the details concerning the exact program that is to be offered, the trip dates, etc. Depending on the size of your group the organizer will then appoint a number of chaperones. These chaperones can be teachers, school staff, or parents. Each chaperone will likely have primary responsibility for a number of students. We have all kinds of advice for you on this subject. Give us a call.
Organizers promote the trip. American Christian Tours provides you with customized itineraries and registration forms, support materials and plenty of advice.
Organizers and chaperones are not responsible for collecting money. American Christian Tours' accounting department works directly with each family. Remember--and this is important--as far as we know, American Christian Tours and its sister company are the only student tour providers in the United States that use a client trust account administered by an independent firm of Certified Public Accountants for the protection of your money. Other student tour providers have trust accounts to be sure, but they are self-administered. In other words, the tour provider can access your money. They're not supposed to, of course, but they can. American Christian Tours can't. Your money is safely in the hands of the independent CPAs who pay the bills and only pay American Christian Tours after your trip is over.
American Christian Tours' Education Program Leaders are with your group 24 hours a day from the time you arrive at your first destination until you are on your way home. The trip organizer helps if decisions need to be made and, of course, with supervision and discipline. American Christian Tours EPLs take care of all arrangements, provide on-going commentary, and in general run the trip. Through the night, hall security will watch over your group at our hotels.
- I am the group Organizer. Do I need to pay to be on the program?
- No. As long as you have enough paying participants, your own participation would be free. Depending on how many paying participants you do have, you will be able to offer free trips to chaperones as well.
For east coast tours traveling by motorcoach, the formula is one free space for every 15 paid passengers. On our west coast motorcoach programs, the formula is one free space for every twenty paid passengers.
With our trips traveling by air, either one person goes free for every ten paying participants (formula one) or one person goes free for every fifteen paying participants and we establish a scholarship fund in the amount of $25 for every paying participant to be used as the organizer sees fit (formula two). You can even split "free" spots if you wish and give chaperones partially paid trips.
- When do I call to book my Education Program?
- Most programs will be booked almost one year in advance. Organizers will call well before school lets out for summer to book their group for the following spring. The next most popular booking period is the first few weeks that school is back in the fall, again to book groups for the upcoming spring. Very few organizers will call after the first part of November to plan a trip for the upcoming spring, although it can be done.
Because American Christian Tours has a client trust account administered by an independent firm of Certified Public Accountants we are seeing more and more schools book trips two and even three years in advance. Organizers and parents know the money is safe so they are comfortable paying deposits and making payments that far in advance. With this option, small monthly payments can be paid for these trips booked for two or more years away - and the funds are protected.
- When should we travel?
- The overwhelming majority of schools participate in our programs during regular school time. The two most popular months are April and May, although March is a close third. Spring Break tends to be a very popular time.
More schools every year are realizing the advantages of pre-season and are traveling in January, February, and very early March. During these times there are very small lines, if any, and no crowds. Of course the weather is a factor, but much of what we do is indoors. If there are no lines then that takes care of most weather problems. Only about ten percent of schools travel after school lets out for the summer.
Another great time to travel is Fall. We have a good number of schools that enjoy taking a tour shortly after school begins. It is a great time for their students to bond together. The lines to attractions are short or non-existent; groups are not competing with large crowds of people. The weather tends to be very comfortable. Usually there are cooler temperatures, and you might even get some leaf-peeping in if you hit it just right!
- How are American Christian Tours' itineraries designed and who chooses which sites and attractions are included?
- American Christian Tours has been putting together education programs since 1984, so our itineraries come with years of experience. Our Education Program Consultants will give you a short questionnaire to see which attractions are priorities for you. From there, our Itinerary Specialists will work within their parameters and the availablity of appointments to provide you with the program specifications you wish.
- Who leads American Christian Tours' education programs?
- American Christian Tours has a quality staff of screened, licensed Education Program Leaders who have been trained and prepared to lead your education program. They are with your group the entire time you are on location - staying with you at your evening hotel. Our leaders are selected for their background, education, personalities and experience with youth.
- Are your Education Program Leaders screened?
- Yes. All American Christian Tours Education Program Leaders go through background checks, and are then licensed by the District of Columbia.
- Is the program chaperoned?
- American Christian Tours' Education Programs are set up with one complimentary chaperone for every ten paid participants (if traveling by air), one complimentary chaperone for each fifteen paid participants (if traveling by motorcoach to the east coast), or one complimentary chaperone for every twenty paid participants (if traveling by motorcoach to the west coast).
Other adults are usually invited to participate on the tour. They may be only allowed to go as chaperones, but that is up to each Organizer to decide their own tour's chaperone guidelines.
- How many participants are required to make up a group?
- Your group will either "stand alone" or be a "matched" group. If your group has 35 or more participants it will stand alone. If you expect fewer than that number of participants then we can either match you with another group or groups, or we can price your program for the lower number of participants.
Many of our groups are matched groups! Perhaps a third of all our tour groups are made up of students from more than one school.
- How many participants are we allowed to have on a program?
- There is no upper limit. We have worked with groups of over 450 participants and very routinely work with groups of well over 200 participants. These groups are divided into motorcoach sized "teams" and each team has its own American Christian Tours Program Leader.
- Who can we bring on the program?
- That's pretty much up to you. The great majority of our schools allow students from a certain grade or spread of grades and parents, as well as an occasional grandparent. A few restrict the trip to only students and teachers. Some Organizers open the trip up to members of the community.
- Should we mix grade levels?
- We don't highly recommend it, but you might choose to do so. Some of our schools have too few students in a particular grade to have a "stand alone" group. In these cases American Christian Tours would prefer that you let us match you with another school. However, if for one reason or another you don't want to match, then you might combine two grades. For example, you might combine your fifth and sixth grades, your seventh and eighth grades, or your eleventh and twelfth grades. If you choose to do this, you would then offer the program every second year.
Keep in mind that it would be to American Christian Tours' advantage in your first year to have you combine grades. It's simple - more students in the first year. However, we would rather have you bring fewer students and match with another school. We know that your program will most likely grow over time, and we would rather see you have the continuity of an every year program.
No matter which you choose, we'll give you a great trip.
- Are there behavior guidelines, dress codes and the like on the program?
American Christian Tours® and/or the organizer of this tour reserves the right to send home any participant, at their expense, whose behavior interferes with the enjoyment or safety of the other participants or who violates stated guidelines or rules.
•Possession of alcohol, non-prescribed drugs, or tobacco by students is specifically prohibited.
•Further guidelines are given on the first day of each tour and as needed.
•Any rule that would apply at the participant’s school is automatically included within the understood guidelines and rules of the tour.
•No clothing showing, referring to, stating, or implying anything to do with alcohol, drugs, profanity, or sex is allowed.
•No clothing referring to or picturing any musical group or individual is allowed.
•Very baggy clothing or revealing clothing is not allowed.
•Finally, any clothing thought objectionable by the trip organizer or your ACTS Education Program Leader will not be allowed.
These are spelled out in our Registration and Medical Release forms, which are sent to you along with detailed trip itineraries when you book an education program. It is all common sense stuff.
- What are American Christian Tours' safety procedures?
- American Christian Tours uses established motorcoach vendors, hotels, restaurants, and attractions that we have checked to make sure provide our programs with quality and safe service.
American Christian Tours also follows all established federal guidelines with motorcoach operators.
Each participant is provided with a lanyard/badge that provides emergency contact information and phone numbers in the unlikely event that a student would find themselves alone.
Students are not allowed to be without adult supervision.
At our hotels, we also provide through-the-night hall monitor security with bonded, licensed operators.
Hotel orientations are provided to give instruction on stair locations and evacuation procedures.
- What type of transportation is provided on American Christian Tours' programs?
- American Christian Tours uses newer model motorcoach equipment that meets all federal transportation guidelines. We use deluxe motorcoaches equipped with large windows, comfortable upholstered seating, a restroom, air conditioning, and a public address system.
If a group has air transportation included we try to utilize the least expensive carrier options to provide you with a better price. ACTS does not include the baggage fees, and this can vary with the different carriers.
- What type of hotels does American Christian Tours use?
- American Christian Tours has several levels of hotel properties that we utilize. We use high-quality brand hotels in downtown locations in Washington, D.C. Common brands we use would include Hyatt, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, etc. Sometimes if your group is hoping to save some money, we also use nice suburban properties that would have brands of Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn and Suites, etc. We look for properties that are in safe locations, are clean with up-to-date modeling, and are well laid out. Each room has its own bathroom.
- How many participants are housed in each hotel room?
- Generally, either two adults or four students are accommodated in each room. Every room will usually have two large beds. Adult couples and single occupancy participants may be placed in a room with a single king-sized bed. For purposes of room assignments, "free" organizers and other chaperones are accommodated just like paying adults, two people per room. There is a possibility that a third person might be put into an adult room, or a fifth person into a student room, using a rollaway bed, if numbers of participants do not divide evenly by twos or fours. The organizer makes rooming assignments.
Adults are usually able to pay additional money to have a single room.
- What type of meals are included on an American Christian Tours program?
- American Christian Tours looks for restaurants and eating options that provide students with variety and choices. Sometimes the meals are set up in a buffet style, other times they are plated, but they always allow for a number of options. Breakfasts are normally set up at our hotels. Lunches are typically not included in our package price, but we plan to stop at locations that have a wide variety of options and prices. Dinners are complete hot meals.
All lunches may be included in the package price, if desired and requested at the time of booking the trip by the organizer.
- What are American Christian Tours Dietary Restrictions/Food Allergy Policy/Procedures?
- While American Christian Tours takes a number of steps to facilitate food requirements and dietary restrictions, it is impossible for ACTS to be responsible for guaranteeing specific food availability or uniquely prepared foods for those with special dietary needs.
For those children who have serious food allergies or complex food requirements, we encourage parents to include snacks and extra meal money to purchase specially prepared foods. An adult participant will be expected to be able to accommodate for their own special dietary food requirements while on the program.
The Education Program School Organizer should be informed of any special dietary needs. The Organizer will in turn be in touch with American Christian Tours.
Please note: ACTS will not be able to provide a list of eating establishments prior to program departure.
- I have a student who is physically disabled, are they still able to attend the program?
- Of course. American Christian Tours follows all ADA guidelines. For example, if your student requires a handicapped motorcoach, we arrange that.
- How are registrations and payments made?
- American Christian Tours provides online registration and payments. This is the preferred safe way to register for a program and make payments.
Payments can be made by Visa, MasterCard, Discover cards or by PayPal.
Payments are made directly to American Christian Tours. Except for the deposit, which is never more than ten percent of the tour price, the payments are made payable directly to American Christian Tours Client Trust Account, an FDIC insured client trust account administered by an independent firm of Certified Public Accountants (CPA's) (in California, all payments, including the deposit, go directly to American Christian Tours Client Trust).
The deposit is paid upon registration. The rest of the program cost is divided into two approximately equal payments: one to be paid ninety (90) days prior to trip departure and another to be paid sixty (60) days prior to trip departure. However, participants can go online at any time and make smaller payments, they just need to make sure that the scheduled payment amount is made on time to avoid late charges.
A person can also register by paper and mail in payments - if alllowed by the organizer. We will provide you with access to paper registration forms should that be requested. Payments can then be made by check, money order, or credit card.
- Does American Christian Tours provide any pre-program education materials?
- Absolutely. An American Christian Tours Explorer Workbook with journal pages will be sent for each student participant on your tour, along with a few extras.
- Medical Assistance on Tour
- Please know that the safety of your group is our top priority! In the event of an emergency, 911 will always be contacted. For non-emergency situations, we utilize other healthcare options, such as the following:
Inn-House Doctor: We partner with Inn-House Doctor, a company that provides top-level medical care in the comfort and convenience of the home, workplace, or hotel room on a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week basis.
To utilize this service, you would simply call the appropriate on-call phone number, which your Education Program Leader would provide. A physician returns the call within 15 minutes to provide the necessary pre-assessment and service plan. A licensed physician from one of the finest local hospitals then provides high-level, on-site care, as needed, in the comfort of your own hotel room.
If this service is needed for a student who does not have a parent on the tour, Inn-House Doctor would contact the parent via telephone to receive parental consent, which is similar to how the situation would be addressed in a hospital.
Charges vary based on services performed; there is a minimum charge of $400. Inn-House Doctor only accepts credit card payment. They do provide the paperwork needed to submit to insurance companies. Again, for those students who do not have a parent on the tour, Inn-House Doctor will work with parents via telephone regarding these matters.
It is good to know that Inn-House Doctor will address any follow-up questions from primary physicians in order to maintain continuity of care for any patient who they see.
This service is available in the Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Boston areas.
Minute Clinics: There are a number of CVS drugstores in Washington, DC, Virginia, and New Jersey that include Minute Clinics. Your Education Program Leader will assist you in finding the closest one.
- Can individuals register after the deadline?
- When registration and payment dates have passed, an individual will be considered a late registrant. While we will do everything we can to secure space on the program, please keep the following in mind:
- If airline seats have already been ticketed/released, we may not be able to secure an additional airline ticket with the group, or the ticket price may be higher (possibly considerably higher) than what was secured for the group. Consequently, there may be an additional fee for the airline ticket, and it is possible that late registrants will not fly with the group.
- Tickets for some venues may no longer be available (ie. Broadway, museums, etc). At high volume times of the year especially, tickets sell out months prior. If we cannot secure a ticket for an event with the group, we will do our best to accommodate an alternative, but it may not be possible.
- If hotel space has been released, it is likely that additional rooms will not be available. As the organizer, you will have to decide regarding the possibility of housing late registrants in the existing group space.
- Education Programs close to additional participants at 15 days prior to departure.