About Camps International:
Camps International provide volunteer trips in Africa, Asia and South America to suit everyone, from schools to gap year travellers, from animal lovers to thrill seekers, there is a perfect experience for everyone. We are the only provider to own permanent camps and employ local people worldwide, meaning that our projects are guaranteed to benefit the communities that we work in.
"Having taken a large group to Peru with Camps International last summer, I experienced both amazing and horrific situations.
The team leader, given by Camps, was atrocious. He was sexist, calling me a diva when I'd demanded our 15/16 year old students were given food for lunch during an 8 hour coach journey, because they said they wouldn't need food in that time - apparently I was asking too much. He was rude to the students, made sexual comments about other staff members to the students, and that's just the small things! When I became seriously ill, and it turned out to be sepsis, he had been telling me all along that 'if you were a student I'd tell you to carry on; you're fine' - suggesting I was making it all up. 10 days in ICU/hospital is far from that I think. He was utterly appalling, and complained to the company about me: said I put the student's safety at risk because I questioned his decisions. Good thing I did, or I may well be dead now! When discussed with the company Director, who came to visit me, I was told my school had already been contacted and had been told I was being difficult. Camps contacted my employer BEFORE speaking with me or anyone other than this misogynistic man, to pass on that I was apparently making our students unsafe. All of this was a lie. None of this was true. And when they bothered to speak to the other staff and adults, this became apparent, including from their second team leader who was wonderful - a young woman who cared deeply about the children; and this was added in the reviews they asked us to do at the end. Shockingly we had no feedback from our comments about the male leader, and I believe this leader will continue to work for the company. He is unsafe with children, has no personal skills and put my actual life at risk.
So, based on that I will never be using this company again. This individual was on the trip so he could travel; not for the benefit of the children. The Director has not, to my knowledge, dealt with this. I had a visit from an in country liaison after this leader had been sending daily updates on what he thought I'd done - for example asking what time we were leaving the following day, which he deemed as questioning his authority; asking him to clarify what time breakfast was, which he didn't feel I needed to know; asking whether students should pack the night before, which he didn't believe was needed, they should just get up earlier in the morning, and they didn't need to have that much information about the next day; challenging him on the amount of time it would take for a 15 year old to pack a bag, as he thought 5-10 minutes would be enough. No experience of younger students. No experience of a group that size. No ability to accept a female leader. Neither my new school, nor my old school, will be using this company. They did not recognise that the teachers and the students are, in fact, the customer. If you want to maintain business, you approach situations professionally.
The plus side was that the country was amazing, and the work with the community was a wonderful experience for the students. The medical care was also very good, although myself and a colleague had to argue with some Camps staff to get me to a hospital, even when I was finding it hard to breath. Once there though, the care was exceptional.
Sadly, all of these positives can be found in other companies. Many of which have been running for much longer, with more experience and better reviews.
I thought I'd feel more positively toward the company some months on, but I don't. They've called multiple times to try and arrange another trip with me, but I will be making damn sure no one I know in education ever uses this company. The team leader was dangerous. And he still works there. Enough said."
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with a review on your experience of Peru last summer. We welcome all your feedback and take any complaint such as this very seriously.
A public forum such as this is not an appropriate place to discuss the details of your complaint so we request that you direct this to our firstname.lastname@example.org email address so we may have the opportunity to respond in full and in detail.
However, based on the information here, we have looked at the reports from your 2018 summer expedition, and have spoken to the team involved in the delivery of your expedition and vehemently refute your claims. We take the health and safety of our volunteers very seriously and on the rare occasion that relationship problems do occur between members of the Leadership Team, in most cases we are able to resolve this successfully. Our excellent safety record and industry leading standards are key factors for schools choosing us, along with our Learning Outside the Classroom accreditation.
We are really happy to hear that your students had an amazing 4 week expedition with us and had some wonderful experiences with the project work they were involved with, as that is what our expeditions are all about. Camps International are incredibly grateful to the support teachers give us and allow us to run these life-changing expeditions for their students. Without you all, we would not be able to continue to support the local communities, wildlife and environmental projects that positively change so many lives.
"Bad organization. Food unacceptable. Kids starving. Price outrageous. Accomodation not in line with their promises. Unexoerienced coaches. EXPERIENCE NOT TO BE REPEATED WITH THIS ORGANIZATION. No one available for answering. No responsible. NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL"
Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback - we're really sorry to hear you feel this way as we take pride in the high standards of all our expeditions as well as our customer service. We take all complaints seriously and would love the opportunity to talk with you further. If you contact us via email@example.com one of our team would be happy to help talk with you and resolve these issues.
The Camps Crew
"1. Over zealous discipline of minors, leading to investigation of allegations of widespread physical and verbal abuse by supervisory personnel.
2.Unilateral allocation of punishment, regardless of guilt or otherwise.
3. Negative reinforcement/ comments on performance.
4. Daily exposure to verbal abuse by intoxicated locals."
Dear Mr Fitchet,
Thank you for taking the time to write a review for us. We are aware of the concerns raised in relation to the discipline of the students on this expedition and we're sorry to hear you were unhappy with how the the leadership managed the discipline. We understand the school are currently dealing with this matter privately with all involved parties and hope this will help to resolve the issues raised here.
The Camps Crew
"Unfortunately I have had terrible issues dealing with Camps International. For fears of safety I have had to cancel my daughters trip. When asked for a refund I was told zero dollars will be refunded even with valid reasons to cancel.
Now I understand that when booking any normal holiday through a travel agent (which is what camps International is) if a cancellation occurs you may loose deposits, however never the full amount.
I have been trying to contact them and they will not reply. I have asked for all of the documents and they will not send to me.
Total i have paid is $2700, which a lot of money for them just to keep! Dissatisfied and absolutely disappointed. Will never recommend or have any of my kids travel with them!!"
We are really sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the service you have received from us and thank you for taking the time to submit a review. We pride ourselves on our levels of customer service support and apologise if you feel we have fallen short of those standards. A response to your complaint has been sent to you directly today which outlines our position and why we are unable to offer a full refund. However, within that email is some additional advice regarding our insurance policy which may be of assistance to you.
The Camps Crew
"Attended a sales pitch / presentation from camps international this evening. They claim that teaching the kids to fund raise is a valuable life lesson. They then give you 6 days to find the first deposit. All this teaches the kids is debt. They honestly expect after listening to the wonderful stories for an hour that parents would let their kids travel to some of the most deprived places to be free labour. The important information any educated parent would expect to receive is sadly non existent. They visit the school a week before and hype the kids, get the parents in a week later and then want the first deposit a week after that. They also believe that teenagers in their final GCSE year are able to fund raise nearly five grand without impacting study time. I have so many concerns about this outfit. On the strength of this I would not trust them with a child of mine to go to a McDonalds for four hours, let alone half way round the world, to some of the most deprived areas for four weeks. Read the horror stories on the web before considering getting involved with them."
We're really sorry to hear you feel this way after attending our presentation. We'd like to reassure you that the school puts a lot of consideration into choosing a provider to offer this opportunity to their students. Our excellent safety record and industry leading standards are key factors for choosing us, along with our Learning Outside the Classroom accreditation and the extensive support we offer throughout the fundraising journey as well as the expedition itself.
We fully appreciate that fundraising is a challenge and we don't shy away from that. That's why we offer a huge amount of fundraising support and resources to make this achievable and encourage the development of valuable skills learnt through balancing fundraising and study. The thousands of students who fundraise and travel with us each year are amazing testament to this.
We're really disappointed to hear that you feel important information was missing from our presentation. We do try to provide all the information needed to make an informed choice about whether our expeditions are right for your child and also offer the chance to ask questions during the presentation. We'd love to chat with you directly to help answer any additional questions you may have - you can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01425 485390.
"My son went to the talk at school last week and convinced me to go to the parents presentation tonight. I listened to the presentation and thought how good it all looked until right at the end they spoke very briefly about having to set up a direct debit by next friday to secure his place in the trip. I thought this was odd as i had assumed that you would be given time to start fund raising before having to make a personal contribution. Having looked on various sites at the many reviews of camp international it appears to me that you should only agree to pursuing these trips if you are willing and able to personaly underwrite the cost if the trip."
"Don't even think about sending your kids to these hell holes, my daughter was sick and required hospital treatment and i was informed 2 days later. Better conditions in prison camps , you have been warned."
We’re very sorry to hear that you feel we didn’t communicate early enough with you regarding your daughters illness. Without knowing the full details it’s very difficult for us to respond to your concerns, however, we would like to explain that sometimes there will be a delay in us receiving the information back in the UK Head Office due to the time differences in the various countries our teams are in. In all cases, we endeavour to inform parents as soon as we have the full information relating to the incident. We have thousands of students travel with us every year and the health and safety of our volunteers is paramount, so much so, that we have an unrivalled safety record throughout the industry. We only ever use checked and approved medical facilities and work very closely with them to ensure our volunteers receive the best medical attention.
Students live alongside rural communities, staying in traditional style accommodation and get to experience the local cultures and way of life. Whilst the facilities might not be what they would be used to in the UK, they are clean and well cared for and our camps staff work tirelessly to make sure our volunteers as comfortable as possible during their stay with us.
Thank you for your message, we take all feedback very seriously. We sincerely hope your daughter recovered quickly and fully and was able to continue with the rest of her expedition
"camps international stay away.
Firstly, the Terms and Conditions are not clear. They state that 50% of the amount paid after the third payment by the participant can be refunded when a notification of cancellation has been made to you. However, when I phoned to ask for this 50% back I was then told that you could only get 50% back after the full total amount of the trip had been paid. It doesn't make sense that I have to pay the full amount for a trip that my daughter can no longer attend in order to get some percentage of the amount paid refunded. Also, if this is the case then what use is the list in section seven detailing the percentage you would get back after each stage of payment since it is always based on the end total amount?
Secondly, no help is received from the company in the area of helping the very young participants to raise the money. It is a very expensive trip over £4000 and a decision to participate in it has to be taken very quickly because they give a very short period of time between the initial presentation delivery and the booking a place deadline. These are very young participants who often don't understand the difficulty in having to raise such a large amount. Your presentations do not do a good enough job in emphasizing the difficulty of having to raise the money and the implications of not raising it but still having booked the place, which are usually either; the parents have to then cover the remainder of the cost or not being able to get a percentage of the money paid back if you cancel. Its all been very disappointing and frustrating.
as single parent I lost £1038 they don't want to refund me any percentage back. they left me broke after believing on them they will help fundraising. I wish someone will listen to the families suffered from them and these company as they really damaging the emotion of our teenagers and our finances."
Dear Meriem, thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback, we’re really sorry that you feel disappointed with Camps International. As you know, we have spoken to you directly and although we were unable to offer you a refund, in line with our T’s & C’s, we hope you can understand the reasons behind this. We would disagree with you about the lack support available to students regarding fundraising. We not only have a dedicated team here who are on hand to help our volunteers every step of the way, but we also provide our volunteers with a series of three fundraising guides and regular newsletters. All students have access to their own Traveller Gateway which has lots of ideas, tools and resources to help them organise events. We help 1000’s of students each year achieve their targets and actively share their achievements on our social media to inspire others on their fundraising journeys. I have passed your comments on to our Regional Expedition Co-ordinators regarding communication around the challenge of raising money for their expedition, but would like to reiterate that it is achievable through hard work and organisation. Whilst we are obviously disappointed that your daughter is no longer travelling with us, we would like to wish you both all the best for the future
"Attended a Camps International Presentation for a school excursion to Kenya - Talk about a hard sell for an hour and half for what I was told was a 40min presentation.
They are very clever, go into the school a week before, do a massive sell to the kids, then a week later a parents presentation where they pretty much guarantee that pretty much all the kids raise at least 75% of the total cost, do lots of positive reinforcement and claim that you get UCAS points (additional cost) - vaccinations at additional cost, spending money, insurance excess, transport to/from uk airport and so on..
Usual hard sell tactics, until all the way at the end they present you with either a monthly direct debit of £290 a month plus a £240 deposit.. or a £400 deposit with a payment plan every quarter with the total payable in full the following year,
Grand total of the cost is just short of £4000 (that excludes probably £1000 of extras taking into account UCAS £80, Visa £30, Spending money £300, Insurance Excess £50, Airport Transport @£100, Vaccinations £100 let alone the rest) and you HAVE to sign up within a period of just over a week or so with your deposit as they can’t save places and then offer them to other school pupils.. and so the cycle continues! That’s called a hard sell to me, and unsurprisingly designed to have kids whining at parents as they believe a sum of around £300 per month is actually achievable to fundraise! I have little doubt that 90% of parents end up paying most of the cost.
Other “Gap Year” style courses are available from them at around £1600 (okay they don’t include flights or the scuba course which is around £300-£400 separately) no doubt these are the positive reviews, but ultimately other providers are available and much cheaper even for gap years.
To then read some of the reviews below about pulling out 10 months in just reinforces my beliefs."
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback. We are sorry to hear you feel this way about the way we communicate the cost of our expeditions. As a social enterprise passionate about travel and making a positive impact globally, we pride ourselves on being transparent about the costs whist offering support and encouragement to those who want to volunteer with us. We structure our launch process so that the schools choose the expedition destination they want, we do a short presentation to students, followed by a more comprehensive presentation to interested students and their parents. All interested students are reserved a place on the expedition, which is confirmed once they pay their deposit. The deadline is short as spaces are limited and fill up quickly and although the thought of raising the deposit may appear daunting, we have 1000s of students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds who achieve this each year in a variety of ways. We are always on hand to personally discuss and support any volunteers who need extra time, help and advice. Last year, our Regional Expedition Co-ordinators challenged themselves to raise a deposit for a trip in a week and all achieved it through different means, including car washes, face painting, quiz nights, sponsored walks, bake sales and bag packing. The cost of the expedition is communicated in a letter home, 1 week before the presentation and again in the first few slides of the expedition presentation. There are additional costs which we explain in the presentation and also on the Traveller Gateway in more detail, along with ways to reduce this such as purchasing second hand kit, which a lot of our travellers do. Vaccinations can also cost so we recommend you shop around to find the best value. If there are enough students travelling from the school then travelling together in a coach or minibus is normally the best option and the schools often help organise events to cover this cost. Again, our apologies, if you feel this wasn’t communicated effectively, we have discussed this with our expeditions team to ensure this message is being fully explained. Regarding our Gap year trips, they are structured very differently to our school trips and do not include a trained Expedition Leader or supervisory adults, flights, insurance, scuba and other adventure elements. We have a dedicated fundraising team here who are on hand to support all volunteers, and who themselves have been through their own fundraising journeys so understand the struggles but also know what works. Additionally, we have blogs, newsletters, and the Traveller Gateway which provides support, resources, ideas and tools to help organise successful events. Once again, thank you for your feedback, we wish you all the best and I have passed your comments on to our Regional Co-ordinators to review. Kind Regards, Camps International HQ.
"Unfortunately, another warning for parents. Our experience was the same as the parent 10 months ago. Even though we cancelled within 28 days with a disclosed condition, which THEY had postponed originally with the booking, (pending further investigation), they were not prepared to return any money at all. Other parents had paid half of what we did due to the payment methods that they chosen - despite sending several emails, they would not return anything. We contacted our credit card who disputed the claim and Camps International even fought that - we were lucky that our cc company gave us a goodwill gesture and the money we lost isn't as bad. We are talking about 14 - 17 year olds here, away from home for a significant period and situations can change very quickly. I am saddened for the lack of empathy and unethical practice of the company. Seriously, look into what you are doing before booking, (which is really hard given the very short time provided), do not expect any empathy, support or help from Camps International if things do not go as planned."
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback. We take every complaint very seriously and responded to you directly regarding yours. We do have Terms and Conditions relating to our trips which outlines both your and our obligations to the products and services we are providing. I am sorry that in this case we were unable to offer a refund, but hope our response to you explained why this was not the case. If you would like any further clarity then please do contact us at email@example.com and we would be happy to provide a more detailed response. Kind Regards, Camps International HQ
"In 2016 I went on a school expedition to Uganda with Camps International. After our Camps Leader phoned the London Headquarters, they allowed us to go for a swim and a game of volleyball in the Nile. We also used Nile Water in the showers on Hairy Lemon Island. After we returned to the UK one of our group became quite ill and after some testing was diagnosed with a parasite- Schistosomiasis/Bilharzia. After the rest of the group heard of the diagnosis we all went to get tested. Most of us tested positive for the parasite. In the UK the NHS covers the medical costs, however because I moved to Germany for Uni straight after the trip, I have to pay for my medical bills of roughly 1500 Euros myself. After my Stepdad contacted Camps International to ask for my payment to be paid by them, they denied the request with the reasoning that I was lying about how they were contacted to give permission to go in the water. This, in fact, can be confirmed by members of my group and so whether they have no written record of the phone call or are trying to cover themselves, I do not know. I am now left with these extensive medical bills after Camps International acted negligent. Myself and the rest of my group were all minors at the time given in to the care of Camps International, who we were promised had excellent knowledge of dangers in the area we were to visit. After doing one google search I was able to find that it is actually common knowledge not to go swimming in the Nile, as it is a breeding site of many parasites. Had the one member of our group not become acutely ill, we would have never known about the parasite and left untreated it can do severe damage to internal organs. I am sharing this now, over a year after our expedition because only now has my medical treatment been completed. I want to warn other parents and kids who have gone on trips with Camps International to get tested and make sure you were not in contact with anything dangerous. Other groups are still being sent to the exact same camp in Uganda where we contracted the parasite so I hope that others are more wary of the organisation and get tested for various parasites upon their return."
Thank you for your feedback. We have addressed your concerns directly with you and this has been concluded but we did want to publicly respond to your comments. We are sorry to hear of the problems you experienced after your return to the UK. International travel is not without its risks and we do risk manage all our expeditions to ensure we deliver safe expeditions. Whilst our students are on our expeditions they are covered for treatment for the duration of their trip but once you return to the UK then any subsequent treatment would not be covered and a UK doctor would treat you. Treatment is normally a short course of tablets. In your case, there were unfortunately medical bills for the treatment, as you no longer resided in the UK. When all our volunteers return to the UK we do ask them to make an appointment with their GP should they feel unwell. We can also confirm that we no longer use the area in Uganda where your group contracted the parasite. Kind regards, Camps International HQ
"**PARENTS BEWARE*** - Please ALL parents consider the implications of potentially having to fund the trip with this company if there is any possible shortfall in your fundraising as if your circumstances change and you are unable to commit to the trip there is NO room for a compromise with them. You will NOT be able to retrieve any of the money committed even if a legitimate reason for cancellation is given.
I had hoped that the company, which prides itself in its ethical ways, would understand the circumstance my family found itself in when we had to cancel my sons participation in a trip and we had contributed money for my son's place. After we informed them that we needed to cancel, at NO time was there any compassion shown to our situation and the business head of this company reared its ugly head, throwing its own ethics out the window!! I am aware there is T&C's that cover this company from these kind of cancellation requests which we had signed but I can assure you, the decision to cancel was not taken lightly and with great reluctance though this company did not once acknowledge the reason for cancellation.
Another word of warning is that this is a company, NOT a charity and if any businesses were to sponsor your child, they are unable to declare this as a charitable donation, just in case this would affect your fundraising ideas & any impression given at any information evenings.
I am acutely aware that the company has (and probably continues) to help in the areas they are based in but if you run into any trouble and can't honour the cost of the trip, you have almost 100% lost any contribution paid.
I sincerely hope any of the money that we have paid has gone to some kind of assistance to people they advertise that they help and not into their profits of the company (which I sadly assume has in our case)
I sincerely wish any parent that has their child participating all the best of luck on the opportunity they are involved in, and do not want to adversely alarm anyone to not take part in these trips, I just want to highlight the situation that I found myself in when my circumstances changed dramatically from when we signed up for the trip and the ZERO understanding given by them."
Thank you for your comments and we’d like to say we fully appreciate and sympathise with your situation and reasons for cancelling your son’s place. We apologise that you feel this may not be the case, please let me reassure you that we do genuinely care and have tried to work with you to find an alternative solution to cancelling. We have written to you directly to respond fully to your points and in the interests of protecting your privacy, we will not discuss those in a public forum.
What we would like to explain is a bit more about who we are and what we do.
Camps International is a social enterprise – a business with philanthropic interests at its heart. In 15 years, we have supported nearly 50,000 people in Africa, Asia and South America. We are not a charity; however, we have a charity attached to the company to enable us to do even more amazing work in these rural communities.
The expeditions we run are not organised by the charity, they are organised by our social business – we make this clear on all materials and in our presentations to parents. We are exceptionally proud of what we do and achieve as a company and therefore have no reason to not want to shout about it from the rooftops.
With regards to how and where we spend the money we receive; the funds are used to enable hundreds of life-changing projects to be undertaken each year. Through these we deliver real and sustainable change around the world. We promise that every project we start we finish, without compromise.
We also provide extensive pre-expedition support for anything up to 2 years before departure for all our volunteers.
We hope this answers you questions and should you have any further comments, please contact us directly to see how we may be able to help.
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