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Youth travel club sets its sights on China

06/06/2014| 6:20:55 PM|

With local members travelling to Thailand in 2013 and Germany, Italy and Switzerland in 2014, club president Donna Dalziel decided that the time was right for a journey back to the Middle Kingdom.

The Prince Albert Youth Travel Club visits the Great Wall of China in 2010. Registration is currently open for the group’s next trip to China, which will take place in the spring of 2015.

“You got such a value for your dollar … Just three years ago we went, and typically I don’t rotate trips in except for about every five years,” Dalziel said. “But the bang for your buck, the adventure combined with the culture, is second to none.”

Though the club’s next China trip will not take place until the spring of 2015, planning is well underway.

To help prepare local youth for the trip, the PAYTC will be holding an information night at Messiah Lutheran Church on Monday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Targeted at both confirmed and potential travellers, the session will include information on China as well as the PAYTC and is open to all Prince Albert youth in Grades 9 through 12.

“Typically the kids who travel with us are in grades 10 to 12 that school year,” Dalziel said. “But if you have a mature Grade 9 student and you contact (vice president) Ellen (Grewcock) or myself, then we sort of give the nod or not.”

Anyone interested in registering for the China trip would do well to move fast, as there are only 17 spots still available.

“Seventy is sort of the magic number that we’re going to and we have 53 registered at this point,” Dalziel said. “Probably five people have called this past weekend and are thinking of registering.”

Among those who have already registered for the China trip are veteran youth travellers Kennedy Erickson and Logan Hobson, who each took part in the club’s last two trips and were eager to embark on a third.

St. Mary High School student Erickson, 17, said that she returned from both the Thailand and Europe trips with an increased appreciation for home as well as a deeper understanding of different cultures.

“Travelling with the youth travel club is a lot of fun,” she said. “You make lots of friends and you get to know the advisors, so that was also an incentive.

“But China, just the culture seems really interesting and I’m really excited to experience it. The two other trips were a lot of fun, so I just wanted to continue for the rest of high school.”

Hobson, a Grade 11 student at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, echoed her sentiments.

“I had really good experiences when I went on the previous two trips and I really liked the people that I travelled with and the advisors,” said Hobson, 17. “And then when I heard it was China … it isn’t some place that you’d go as a family. You usually go somewhere like Mexico or something like that.”

“I don’t really have the opportunity to travel,” she added. “So I want to take it all in before I have to go to university and won’t have time to do all that stuff -- or really, money.”

A packed itinerary is planned for the China trip.

Students will be seeing everything from temples to the famous Terracotta Army sculptures to the Great Wall of China, tobogganing down the latter structure on a paved luge. Cities on the journey include Beijing and Shanghai.

Soaking up the local culture, youth will take part in a cooking class, enjoy tai chi lessons and travel on dragonboats.

The duration of the trip will last either 13 days or 16 days, depending on whether travellers choose to go to Hong Kong.

“Students get the option of choosing to go on the Hong Kong extension or not,” Dalziel said. “Those who don’t choose the Hong Kong (extension) will be coming back three days earlier than the rest of us that do go.”

However, she added, “At this point, 90 per cent of the people who are registered are also choosing to go to Hong Kong. Once you’re that far, why wouldn’t you?”

As in previous years, a critical aspect of the trip will be the tour directors from the company EF Education First, who serve as guides for the young travellers.

“They are basically in charge of taking us everywhere,” Erickson said. “They are very knowledgeable about the countries that we go to and they make it fun.

“They’re not just throwing facts at you like a teacher would. They’re always bright and smiling in the morning and just are enthusiastic … If you have an issue, then they’ll help you resolve it.”

Dalziel noted that the tour directors have tweaked the trip slightly from the club’s last China trip to allow for a different experience.

Students planning on a trip should check their expectations at the door. The actual experience often proves different from what is imagined at the outset, as Grewcock noted in describing the 2010 China trip.

“I don’t think it was anything that I expected, because you do go with this idea that it’s going to be crowded and wall-to-wall people and shoulder-to-shoulder and smog, and it wasn’t any of those,” she said.

The cost of the China trip is $3,700 per student. Youth who register first pay a $99 deposit and can then pay monthly installments of $400.

In order to eliminate cost as a barrier to young travellers, the PAYTC offers a range of fundraising opportunities to help youth cover the expenses.

“There are lots of fundraising opportunities that you can do like barbecues, raffle tickets, cleanup crews for parks … You do that all the year before and (the PAYTC) have meetings every month getting ready for what you’re going to be experiencing and what to prepare yourself for and stuff like that,” Erickson said.

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TAGS: youth travel | China trip
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