DC Questions & Answers

Questions
1)  What are the eligibility requirements for trip participation?
2)  What are the DC Costs?
3)  What is included in the trip package?
4)  What additional costs will there be and how much money should I take?
5)  How are student and parent rooms arranged?
6)  How are student medications handled?
7)  What procedure is used to select those students who will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
8)  What are the chaperone responsibilities during the trip?
9)  How are the bus and chaperone assignments arranged?
10)  What is the weather like in DC and what kind of clothes should we pack?
11)  How much luggage can we take?
12)  What fundraisers are available to help finance the trip?
13)  Who do we make payments to and when should they be made?
14)  Is everyone required to purchase a "DC" tee shirt?
 
Answers
1)  Q What are the eligibility requirements for trip participation?
A
Students must be enrolled at the Shenandoah Middle School campus at the time of the trip, have all trip fees paid by final due date, and not have more than one out-of-school suspension.

Chaperones must be at least 18 years old , not enrolled in high school and have all fees paid by the due date and pass an expanded background check provided at a cost and completed online (see link on DC page).
2)  Q What are the DC Costs?
A
$635 (student and 4 per room adult), $710 (3 per room adult), $785 (2 per room adult), $935(1 per room adult)
3)  Q What is included in the trip package?
A
Cost covers transport via motor coach, three night stay at quality hotel, six meals (3 breakfast at hotel, 3 evening meals in DC), dinner cruise, tour of National Cathedral, tour of Gettysburg Battlefield and museum, swim and rented aquatic center, evening hotel security, and one licensed tour guide per motor coach.
4)  Q What additional costs will there be and how much money should I take?
A
At the beginning of the trip $15 will be collected from each person. This will be used as a final trip tip for each of the three DC drivers and tour guides. There will be 6 meals during the trip that are not covered (1 breakfast stop in transit to DC, 3 lunches in DC, lunch in Gettysburg and a dinner stop on the way home. In transit we will be stopping at truck plazas and rest stops where travelers often buy snacks and drinks. Our last night in DC we will have pizzas delivered to the hotel for those interested. Pizzas are optional and usually split between roommates. Cost is approximately $12 per pizza. We will have several opportunities to purchase optional souvenirs. It is hard to say exactly how much a person needs to take on this trip. Some students will buy a lot of extra snacks, souvenirs, gifts and DC clothing that is nice but not necessary. Lunch stops at the Capitol and/or museums can average $15. I suggest that between $125 and $175 would be a minimum amount of spending money to take.
5)  Q How are student and parent rooms arranged?
A
Usually late in January students are provided a form to be completed by their selected roommates. If rooms of four students are submitted there is little chance that those will need altered. If students submit room requests of less than four it is likely that those rooms may have to be merged with other or altered in some way. All room arrangements are fluid until final trip payments are made.

Chaperones may request single, double or triple occupancy at an additional cost. Chaperones rooms are arranged according to their request. If no rooming information is provided I will place chaperones into rooms of four.

Student and chaperone rooms may have to be altered if one or more roommates of a specific room cancel their trip or fail to make their final payment.
6)  Q How are student medications handled?
A
If a parent is going on the trip we ask that they be responsible for packing and providing any medication needs. If no parent is traveling the bus captain (a teacher) will be responsible for handling any prescription medications. Students will be asked to go to that staff member when they need to take their medications. Exceptions to this will be inhalers and any prescription medication that must be available to the student at all times. Prior to the trip a medication form will be provided and medications will be collected for those without traveling parents. When turning in medications please place the needed amount (maybe a spare or two) in a small zip lock bag that has the student name and dosage information included. Any reaining medications at the end of the trip will be given back to the student just prior to arrival at SMS.

Each bus will have antacids, aspirin and Tylenol for those in need. If students want to pack other preferred over the counter medications for the trip they can. I only ask that they not share these with other students.

Please contact me if you have special medical concerns or needs for the upcoming trip.
7)  Q What procedure is used to select those students who will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
A
The top 4 students based on first semester cumulative GPA will be offered the opportunity to participate in the ceremony. Those students will be notified by letter and provided participation guidelines. In the event a student chooses not to participate the next in line will be provided the opportunity.
8)  Q What are the chaperone responsibilities during the trip?
A
The truth is...very little. We ask that chaperons always make a visual check for their kids every time we reload the motor coach. Your bus captain will be taking head counts at every stop.

At a few tour sites we will ask that you "get with your kids" to make sure things go smoothly. Our tour of the Capitol, Vietnam Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Metro loading area are selected sites.

At the hotel is where we need your help the most. Unfortunately it is also the time where everyone wants to escape to their rooms to recover. We ask that you help monitor the halls for traffic and noise. When we approach "lock down" we ask that you have your kids in their rooms and quiz them on any needs they might have before you lock them up. Chaperones will secure the students and tape the room door for the evening.

We ask that you check your kids in the morning and make sure they are up. Good idea to throw the metal latch allowing you reentry. They love to go back to bed. Check for them at breakfast. We want them to get something in their stomach prior to leaving.

chaperones will sign up for a single "duty" assignment. Two chaperons will be responsible for checking on student rooms for an hour during the evening. We will have scheduled times from 12pm - 5am for each of the three nights in DC. We do have a paid security guard watching our rooms from 11pm - 3am.

We also ask that chaperones check their kids each morning for proper attire. If there is a problem please let a teacher know and they'll check on the situation.

Other than that your responsibility is to have as much fun as possible.
9)  Q How are the bus and chaperone assignments arranged?
A
I will always try to have a balance of male and female chaperones and male and female students. That would be easy if all you had to do was divide them up. All students rooming together must be on the same bus. All parents rooming together must be on the same bus. Chaperones must be on the same bus as the students they are chaperoning. This is where it get complicated.

I provide parents and students the options to have special chaperone requests. This usually results in a parent requesting that they chaperone their son or daughter. I record all of the requests and after the final trip payment set out to see if the requests can be honored. What usually happens is a very large group of connected requests will result in a bus that isn't well balanced or doesn't have enough seats.

Sometimes it works out and sometimes I have to deny certain chaperone requests. My goal is to try to get you on the same bus if possible. Often chaperone requests lead to groups of four girls chaperoned by four moms which leave us short overall. I'll need most of the dads and some of the moms to help in chaperoning the boy's rooms.

If I'm not able to honor your request please know that all of our coaches travel to the same sites at the time so the only separation time is when we are on the bus. Even then you're a cell phone call away.
10)  Q What is the weather like in DC and what kind of clothes should we pack?
A
In early May DC is usually very comfortable. There is no need to pack any “fancy” clothes. Most adults and kids are in shorts or jeans. Be sure to pack a jacket or sweatshirt for the cooler evenings.

Be sure to bring along a poncho, rain gear, or small umbrella. We will tour in the rain if we have to.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and have extra socks packed on your carry-on bag. We do a lot of walking at this trip is not the time to break in a new pair of shoes.
11)  Q How much luggage can we take?
A
You can pack one suitcase as large as you want that will go underneath the motor coach. You won’t have access to this bag until the second night at the hotel so be sure not to store anything in there that you must have the first day.

Your carry-on bag is a small bag (best if soft sided like a duffel bag) that will be taken on the bus with you. The overhead compartment is a decent size but won’t handle a large gym bag. If you bring on a bag that is too large you might have to keep in on your lap….not good.

You can bring along a light blanket and small pillow that won’t need to be in the carry-on bag.

Avoid bringing on multiple bags. We will have full busses and the room is limited.
12)  Q What fundraisers are available to help finance the trip?
A
In early September students will have the opportunity to sell catalog orders, in November we will do a candle sale, in January we will sell candy and we might do a fourth fundraiser in early February. All profit is applied to the D.C. trip balance.
13)  Q Who do we make payments to and when should they be made?
A
There are two deadline payment dates. On September 9, 2016 a $200 deposit is due for each participant with the final total trip payment due on February 24, 2017.

Payments can be made at any time during the collection period. All payments can be returned in case of trip cancellation with the following exceptions; deposit after payment deadline, fundraiser money and final payment that has been sent to Junior Tours after the final payment deadline.

Make all checks payable to Shenandoah Middle School.

Please avoid turning in cash for any fundraiser or trip payment. A cancelled check will act as a receipt of payment. Unless requested I don’t provide written receipts for cash payments. If you must turn in cash be sure to place in an envelope and have the student name and amount clearly written on the front.
14)  Q Is everyone required to purchase a "DC" tee shirt?
A
No. We have always had a shirt for our trip made available. We will wear this shirt the day we meet with Congressman Pence at the Capitol. They provide everyone with a very nice group photo after the trip so we want to look good. We ask that if you don't purchase a shirt please pack a shirt that is close in color so you won't stand out in the group photo.

Shirts are ordered through the school and printed by Transfer Connection. We will provide order forms and payment must be received prior to your order being placed. We try to keep cost as low as possible to make it easier for everyone to purchase.