OSWEGO, NY – At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Lisa McPherson, Oswego High School Travel Club adviser, told the board members about the club’s upcoming trip – to Italy.
The veteran school district staffer took the reins of the Travel Club in 2000.
“I have gone on nine trips, out of the country, with students of the school district, this trip will be my 10th. We used to do trips once a year. But, we found that our numbers went down and the cost was prohibitive for students,” she explained.
So, a few years ago, they decided to do trips every other year.
It gives the students an opportunity to raise funds for a longer amount of time, she noted.
The cost of the trip for each student will be approximately $3,400.
“The trips are voted on by the kids. They tell us where they want us to go in the fall and we say, ‘OK, these are the trips we’re willing to do.’ We try to limit it to seven to nine days,” the adviser said.
Last year they went the European Mediterranean Coast, “which was a great trip,” she said, adding that the vote for next year’s excursion was a close one with Italy winning out over Greece. The trip is planned for late June – early July 2016.
They have begun planning. Nine students and adults have signed up so far. They can sign up all the way through next year.
“We’ll do another push come fall to get students to sign up,” she said. “We run various fundraisers throughout the year to help students offset the costs. They make payments to the company (that facilitates the travel). We aren’t the middle man for that. Because the trip happens after the school year ends, there is no liability for the district.”
There is an insurance policy on the advisers when they go.
“We’re considered (unpaid) workers for the company (EF Tours). So there is an insurance policy on us and the kids as far as their trip,” she said. “We’ve always been told we don’t need board approval. We just need to tell you we’re going because the trip we’re taking (district) kids. It’s more of a formality, is the way it was explained to me.”
The only cost to the district is the stipends the advisers receive.
“Is the whole purpose of the club just to go on the trip? Or, are there other things as well?” asked board member Heather DelConte.
“It’s mostly the trip. But we talk about, research the area. The kids give presentations or (the advisers) will give presentations,” McPherson said. “We talk about what we’re going to see and the history of the area. It’s generally a small group.”
Most of the fundraising is for the individual kids.
All of the money is logged and audited, she added.
“When we get ready to go, we get approval to cut the student a check for the amount of money that they fundraised. Basically, that covers their spending while they’re on the trip,” McPherson told the board.
The advisers attend the annual freshmen orientation and explain to parents that it is a very costly trip, and that’s why the travel every other year now, she added.
“If they really want to go, they can fundraise through us for three years and go their senior year. I’ve never had a student push that hard to do it,” she said. “I have had some students travel with us every year we offered a trip.”
It’s been a very rewarding experience for her, McPherson said, adding that she started doing it the year her son was born.
“He actually started walking when I was on my first trip. And he’s going with me this year. So it’s been a long trip,” she said. “But very rewarding.”
Getting out of Oswego and seeing the world is beneficial for the students, the adviser said.
“Getting kids out of this area really opens their minds … there is so much more out there in the world,” she said.
“My daughter has brought home some award-winning artwork, photography from her trips. She’s won money; people have paid for her pictures. At the Scholastic CNY Art Show, she has won Gold Key and Silver Key awards,” Rachel Henderson added.