How big are Riveted Kids camp groups?
Small! Usually 10-16 participants. One of our primary goals is to make sure that each participant gets the most out of every day and we do that by keeping our groups small. We’ve been on trips run by other companies with more than 20 kids. The buses are big, interactions with local people are almost voyeuristic, and opportunities to help kids process and integrate their experiences are nonexistent. One of the key reasons operators have large groups is to increase profits. That just isn’t our main goal. We want you and your kids to get the most out of the Riveted Kids experience and our counselors available to offer just the right support at the right moment. We keep our groups to about 1:5 counselor to participant ratio to maximize everyone’s experience.
How do you help kids and families prepare for their adventures?
We want everyone to be confident and ready to take on whatever comes our way. To achieve this we set up a pre-trip meeting with all of our travelers and skype in anyone who can’t be there in person. We talk about the itinerary, what might happen, and answer all of your questions. We also take time to get to know each other a little better. Riveted Kids provides customized packing lists for each destination and we are available to answer questions via email or phone at any time. We get a lot of texts the night before a trip and we love it!
Who are your counselors?
Experienced, responsible, middle-aged folks. We wouldn’t send our 13 year old off to another country with just anyone. We don’t expect you to either. For now, our counselors are our two founders – Jay and Kymber Waltmunson. Check out their bios here. When we need to add staff they will be people that we know, trust, and have vetted and background checked.
What safety measures do you take?
Safety is something that we take very seriously. We only take people to places we’ve been and tested thoroughly. Our transportation contractors are fully vetted. We always wear seat belts. We have strict rules about going off on your own without communicating. Participants must let us know immediately when they are not feeling well. We put “I’m lost!” cards in everyone’s pockets in the local language and have local emergency contacts. We scope out emergency medical facilities in each of our destinations. Sunscreen and/or cover ups are absolutely required when we are going to be in full sun. Jay and I have both taken emergency first aid training. That said, one can take safety so seriously that you miss great experiences. For example, we do go horseback riding, ziplining, hiking, and eat street food when the conditions are right.
Can my child bring their phone to camp?
No. Traveling technology-free is wonderful. Many kids have even told us that it is a relief to be away from constant communication. Technology is an incredible distraction from the world around us. It can have an especially negative impact when we are trying to immerse ourselves in a new culture. It keeps us at arms length from our experience and from one another. One of the goals of our trips is building independence and confidence. This may mean that you don’t talk to your child until we arrive home at the airport and they talk nonstop until every story is exhausted.
How and when do you communicate with parents during camp?
We post photos to a group account daily when we have internet access. We do not contact parents for skinned knees, upset tummies, or homesickness. Before camp begins we will ask you for strategies to use with your child when they are sad or worried and we apply them as needed. If we are concerned about a more significant medical issue or something that needs your input we will contact you right away.
Will you administer medication to my child?
We will ask you to complete a form that outlines how you’d like to handle this. If your child is taking medication we’ll work with you on a plan. We will work with your child to follow your guidelines. With your express permission we will administer over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, antibiotics you provide, or pre-approved medicines as noted on your child’s medical form.
What does Riveted Kids do to make sure that you are traveling responsibly and sustainably?
We are always looking for new ways that we can be our best, most globally-responsible selves. Tourism can have negative impacts on local people and the environment. We go to great lengths to avoid using plastic or other non-compostable materials that our hosts may have to dispose of. We walk wherever we can. We make sure that animals we visit are well cared for, e.g. horseback riding or animal sanctuaries. All of our partners are locally-owned businesses so benefits stay close to the people we impact. We meet people where they are instead of asking them to make us comfortable in their culture. We promote meaningful human connections and don’t treat locals like exhibits to be observed. We learn about the cultural, social, and political issues people face. We engender local pride and confidence with our genuine curiosity and engagement.