Travelling to camp on your own is daunting… or is it?

16th May 2019

It must be daunting for an 8-14 year old to get on an plane and travel to the UK. Regardless of if they are travelling on their own or with a parent or agent, that feeling of excitement and nervousness mixing will cause some apprehension. Parents are probably experiencing the same feeling too so it’s important that they are confident with the arrangements in place to get their child safely to and from Camp. Every summer we have the joy of seeing apprehension turn to smiles as children meet a member of Varsity staff in the airport arrival hall or at the front door of Cothill House School, our residential camp venue near Oxford.

Students travel to us in several ways, ready for their English summer camp adventure. We have children visiting us from all corners of the globe, some of whom have never left home or travelled without their parents before, so we know how important that first contact is in building their confidence and starting their Varsity experience in the right way. We are focused on younger learners and work hard to create a safe, welcoming environment regardless of if it is their first time away from home, a returner to Varsity or a seasoned traveller. We are proud of the effort, planning and care we put into helping children settle in no matter if we have met them at the airport or if they are brought to camp by their parent or agent.

For those parents who do use the Varsity airport transfer service, they can be confident that their child is in safe hands. Every student is met by a member of Varsity staff who will be waiting in the arrivals area, easily recognisable in their Varsity uniform and with a Varsity sign. Our staff arrive well in advance of each student landing and constantly check the progress of the flight in order to make sure they are ready and in place for when the student clears customs, collects their luggage and steps through the arrival doors. Some students may travel as an ‘Unaccompanied Minor’ and an airline representative will take care of them and hand them over to our staff in arrivals. From here our staff will make sure the student has everything they need and let them know how they will be transferred back to Camp. We use several ways of getting back to the camp depending on how many students are arriving at any one time. The student will always be with a member of Varsity staff so they can relax and start their time with us completely stress free. We often have several students arrive soon after each other and we therefore tend to travel back to Camp together in one group. This is a great way for students to start meeting new friends who they will living, learning and having fun with for the next few weeks!

Some parents and agents choose to travel with their children to England and drop them off at camp themselves. It’s great to meet parents and a good opportunity for them to see where their child will be staying for their time with us. Our staff team are on hand throughout the day, ready to welcome students and take them through their camp induction.

Arrival days are always a big mix of emotions. The energy of the new students arriving and staff helping them settle in, find their way round and meet other students is that nervous but excited energy I mentioned at the start. There is also the somewhat sad but excited energy of any students leaving camp, sad that their time at camp has come to an end and saying goodbye to new friends but also looking forward to heading back home to see their family and friends.

We take the same amount of care when students come to the end of their stay at Varsity, carefully planning to ensure they are ready for their parent to collect them or for a Varsity member of staff to transfer them back to the airport. Like when students arrive, Varsity staff travel to the airport with the student and assist them with check-in and making their way to the security gates. Our staff always remain at the airport until each of the students’ flights has departed – just to make sure the flight leaves without issue and to be there should there be any delays or cancellations affecting the students’ journey home.

So yes, a seemingly daunting experience for students (and parents!). But with some careful planning and attention to detail from Varsity, a character building, life skill learning experience that will stay with each student, setting them up for more international travel and learning as they go through their teens. Especially for those who are doing it for the first time, everything about Varsity is designed to help them at every step, boosting confidence and giving them an unforgettable summer in the UK.      

Written by: Mark Vingoe, MD