A Catalina Island Adventure

Sun and fun off the coast of California

For a refreshing and relaxing addition to your Los Angeles or California group itinerary, consider a day trip to Catalina Island and the community of Avalon. Your day will likely begin at the Balboa Pavillion in Newport, California as you board the Newport Flyer, a large catamaran vessel that ferries you and your group to the island across an hour and a half of open ocean. The views as you leave and arrive in the harbors are picturesque and worth the trip by themselves. Consider suggesting that your group’s members take motion sickness medication prior to boarding, or at the very least move to the open air top floor of the boat if you begin to feel seasick. You may also want to bring a sweatshirt or a coat as it can get very chilly over the open ocean even in the middle of July.

Upon arriving in Avalon you have a choice of many activities. There are many beaches within walking distance of the arrival pier, and each of these beaches has its own share of shops where you can rent snorkling gear, kayaks, and other beach equipment. Group prices for these rentals are very reasonable. You can even rent scuba equipment and motorized boats. I highly recommend Joe’s Rent-A-Boat on the green pier in Avalon for some very good deals and friendly service with snorkling, fishing, or any other rental needs.

If you know that you want your entire group to do the same activities call ahead and reserve a block of equipment for your participants. Group prices for these activities are often far below what the individual prices are. If you are using a travel agent to plan your trip be sure to ask how flexible they are with what the group members can do. The best agents can provide you with a list of activities to choose from and allow each member to select their own activity. For links to recommended agents and activities please visit http://www.musicedmagic.com

As for dining in Avalon, Steve’s Steakhouse is just a few feet from the beach and the main pier. Steve’s serves the most incredible burgers and steaks at prices that compare to most sit down restaurants. Meals range from $7.00 on up depending on your taste. Be sure to ask for a table near the windows so that you can take in the view of the harbor and beaches while you dine.

Other activities in Avalon that are perfect for school groups or for individuals include underwater wildlife tours in a “semi-submersible” boat called the Nautilus. Trips in this craft can be reserved from their station on the tip of the pier.

The only downside to a day trip to Catalina Island is that one day is simply not long enough to enjoy all that it has to offer. The ferry arrives on the island around 10:30am and leaves very promptly at 4:30pm. There is always the option to stay overnight at one of the island’s many hotels, but be sure to book in advance.

Chad Criswell is a well regarded high school music teacher. He has over a decade of experience planning and coordinating trips for school and non-profit groups of all sizes. He is a respected resource person for band, choir, and other activity groups across the country.

Group Discipline and Consequences While Traveling

Group discipline is hard enough when you are in your classroom, but when you are at school help is just down the hall in the principal’s office. When on a group trip, often the decision on what to do will come down to you as the leader. The best way to protect yourself from the stress of such a decision is to make sure that your school or organization has a very straightforward conduct policy and that it specifies what the consequences are if these rules are broken. It is often not enough just to state this policy verbally. Put it in writing and require that all participants and their parents sign off on it before you leave. The leader should take copies of the signed documents along on the trip.

Once you have the conduct agreements signed, cross your fingers and say a little prayer that you won’t need to use them. Without a doubt, if you travel a lot with minors, sooner or later you will have a problem. Hopefully your policy has different levels of consequences for different infractions, but whatever the policy dictates is what you must do. Even if it means hiring a cab and taking the student to the airport at 6am to be sent home for hiding cigarettes in her suitcase. It is when this ultimate scenario plays out that the true group leader is tested. No group leader wants to send home a participant or a student, especially when this will result in additional expense for the student’s family or for the sponsoring organization. Failing to follow through and execute the requirements of the conduct policy will literally and completely destroy your reputation as a leader. It might hurt in the short term, but stick to your principals and always follow through with any consequences you present. You will be a stronger and more respected leader as a result.

About The Author

Chad Criswell is a well regarded high school music teacher. He has over a decade of experience planning and coordinating trips for school and non-profit groups of all sizes. He is a respected resource person for band, choir, and other activity groups across the country.

The Lowdown On New Orleans Travel

The beautiful city cuddled around the curve of the Mississippi River, known for its cuisine, music and culture, is the metropolis New Orleans. This vibrant city summons many a visitors every year. Its more than a few attractions are cherished by tons of people across the globe.

Getting Acquainted With the Place

New Orleans is quite an old city that has a profound sense of art and architecture, culture and people. Certain historic buildings like the U.S Mint Building and the Lousiana History Museum have always accepted attention of the visitors.

The French Quarter is an eminent area in New Orleans. The Quarter speaks about the marvelous European architecture, history, legends and the like. The Bourbon St. bars is an all time entertainment bar or club for the adults. Once you step out of French Quarter, a horde of hotels and restaurants welcome you. The IMAX theatre, Riverwalk shops and Harrah’s casino are particularly very famous here.

The Storyland at the City Park of New Orleans is believed to be a wonderland park. The Six Flags amusement park, the Audubon Park and the Zoological Gardens that have more than a thousand animals are amongst the magnets of New Orleans.

The Jackson Square area of New Orleans is teeming with artists, musicians, mimes and fortune tellers, needs no introduction. People from all over the world visit this place on their vacation to New Orleans. The French Quarter is brimming with shopping malls and shops. From glittering jewelry to exclusive souvenir, everything is readily available. There are also antique shops for those who have a taste of antiques. The French Market at New Orleans is known for the bargain. The market is basically devoted to the farmers as well as to flea.

Once you are tired of running around to shop, enjoy a wonderful coffee at the Café Du Monde. The café is considered to be the home of beignet and chicory coffee.
The ‘shotgun’ houses at New Orleans are meant to admire the exclusive and peculiar architecture. The rooms in these houses are lined one behind the other such that a single shot fired from outside the front door would go out from the back door without hitting anything. The D- Day Museum at New Orleans that exhibits the history of World War II, has its own glory and charm.

There are different tours to explore New Orleans to the fullest. Thses tours are quite informative and adventurous. For instance on a swamp tour you get to know the concept behind the above ground cemeteries in the city. You also get an opportunity to feed the alligators, see the grand homes and gardens in the Garden District and many such things.

A ghost tour, relished especially by the kids will take you to the haunted St. Philip Street. While on a Southern Comfort Cocktail Tour you will enjoy the restaurants, bars and hotels of the city along with the fables attached to them. The Honey Island Swamp tour is specifically meant for the kids to enjoy this nature preserve and eerie houses like Gris-Gris.

The distinguished pulls of New Orleans are incomplete without the festivals celebrated here. The principal festival of the year is the Mardi Gras in February. This is followed by the crawfish festival in March, the Jazz Heritage festival and the French Quarter Festival in April or May. The July visitors can enjoy the fireworks that happen to be on the 4th of July, Satchmo festival in August subsequent to which are the festivals for tomatoes, catfish, plants etc. in September. Finally there is the grand Christmas celebration that draws everyone’s thought and concentration. Almost all the festivals are festooned at least with fireworks and parades.

New Orleans has earned a significant name in the area of sports. The city is a host to many sports concerts all round the year. These festivals make New Orleans a destination worth vacationing all round the year.