Rotary Trips Emails

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Eastern Trip Emails

January 19- We are at 61 students right now, so I beg you to talk your friends into joining the trip so we can run the 2nd bus. 

Hope you had a great weekend.   At our RYE weekend this past Saturday, everyone was talking about how their year is half over.  The coolest part with this trip and the Western Trip the best part of your year is coming up.  The trips are exciting, adventurous, and you will learn a lot about the USA. 

You will learn how the USA was founded and learn about the people who did it.  We'll visit George Washington's home  Mt. Vernon.  It's also where he is buried.  Washington was very tall for his time, a gentleman, and after marrying his wife the richest man in the Colonies.  It would be like Bill Gates fought the revolution, helped form a new Government and then be president for 8 years.   The best thing about Washington is he was offered a crown, to be king the USA and turned it down.   He also stopped being a General.  At the end of his term as president he stepped down and walked away. 

The fun part of the trip is part being with exchange students and part having the opportunity to explore places in depth.  We prepare you well and then let you learn on your own.   It's amazing.  The only thing we ask is you stay with groups of 4 or more. 

We don't have hard rules but we do enforce them and take them really seriously.  Many were recommended to us by past travelers, exchange students who were on the tour.

January 16- We have been really busy figuring out the Eastern.  Again, please tell your friends about the trip.  We would like to run two buses if we could and right now we can't.  Please let me know soon.
The Eastern Trip is a long trip, 10 days but we really don't cover that many miles.  Everyday of the trip is a day when we do something awesome.  When we leave Columbus we'll spend the afternoon exploring the monuments in Washington DC after a beautiful drive through the Pennsylvania and Maryland mountains.   The next two days are spent exploring the exciting city of Washington, including visits to the Capital, George Washington's house, Mt. Vernon, and many museums.  
After a short drive to New York we'll visit the Statue of Liberty and then Times Square.  The next day is exploring all of Manhattan Island.   The next two days is Boston including Harvard, Plymouth, the Freedom Trail, Boston Common and Old North Boston.  The next day we end up in Gettysburg after a stop at Hershey's Chocolate World.   Final day is spent on a guided tour of Gettysburg and then home.
Remember to get me information on how you are going to arrive in Columbus on March 7th.  We will be waiting for you. 
Trip Fact:  New York was originally the Netherlands City of New Amsterdam.   Many of the streets, borough names and areas are old Dutch names. (Staten Island, Yonkers, the Bronx, Knickerbocker. Brooklyn).  St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, in lower Manhattan, was a old Dutch country church.  Wall Street was the site of a wooden wall which was the Northern Tip of New York City. 

January 14 - Right now we have Bus A filled and everyone on that list is going on the trip. Check http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom2014.html.

We are not far from filling the 2nd bus, but I need you tell your friends to get their applications in because if we don't hit 80 students, we won't run a 2nd bus.   We are at 60 students right now and need 20 more to confirm the 2nd bus.

It really comes down to when we received your payment (deposit or final payment)for the trip.  If you haven't sent anything for this trip, you might miss the trip.  That is sad for us for two reasons.  We will miss you on the trip and we will miss the 3 or 4 chaperones who won't be able to go. 

Trip Fact:   Gettysburg is considered one the most important historical sites in the USA.  It was a pivotal victory for the North (Union Troops).  It is also the best preserved military historical battlefield in the world. There has been a major move to make it look exactly as it did when the battle began. Including  removing trees which would not have been there that day and removing building not there and restoring building which were there.

January 9 - Check out the Web page http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom2014.html to see if you are confirmed on the trip.  You are only confirmed if we have received payment from you.  A couple of you have wire transfers in the works but we haven't received them yet. If you have sent payment for this tour before and you are in the unconfirmed part, email me soon. 

Also please tell your friends we have space on the tour and tell them to sign up.    It is available. In fact we need 20 more kids to run the 2nd bus.

The same is true on the Western Trip. It is available.

If you are signing up for this trip but were on the Disney trip.  You DO NOT have to fill out the application again.  Just let us know and send the payment for the trip. 

Payment options are Check (personal checks, cashier checks are fine), money orders, or you can have your parents wire me the money.  I have instructions for wiring money, just email me and I will send it to you.  
 
We are going to be in the bus (this is a big country and your need to ride awhile to get around it).  But the good news is there are hundreds of really interesting things you'll see if you are awake and paying attention.    Pennsylvania Turnpike - First major Interstate type highway.  Goes through the beautiful wilderness of central Pennsylvania.  Amazing old farms and historic sites along the way.  In Maryland you can see the towers around Camp David, where Presidents in the USA hold meetings and relax.  North Of New York in Connecticut you can see the Coast Guard Academy and across the river the main factory and base for America's Nuclear Submarine fleet.    There are so many more cool sites, which my chaperones and I will alert you to. 
 
One of our cooler stops is Hershey Pennsylvania.  Here you can buy gigantic chocolate bars, Hersey's Kisses, and see the center of the American Candy Industry. Hershey's has always been the USA's biggest candy company and the entire town is named after Milton Hershey, who founded the company.  The town smells like chocolate. It's a great stop and there is an interesting and slightly funky information ride on how they make chocolate.  Hershey's makes, Reeses Peaces, twizzlers, Hershey's Kisses, and many more candies.

January 7- If you live a long way from Columbus Ohio you are probably going to have to fly.  Students from Michigan, Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia usually are driven here.  But if you live in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, California, New England, or other places far away your will need to get an airline ticket.  Usually we can help if needed, but our Airline person is under the weather with the flu.  This is what you need to do if you must fly.
Get the earliest flight on the morning of March 7th to Columbus OHIO... Airport code CMH.   Your return flight should be the earliest flight available on March 17th.  5am isn't too early for either flight.  We will have someone to meet you at the airport in Columbus and get your the 2 miles to our hotel.

Once you issue your air tickets, send me and Jackie your flight information so we can be there to pick you up.

New York is actually 5 counties.  We will be spending all our time in Manhattan, but other parts of New York City are Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.  Only the Bronx is not situated on an Island.  Manhattan and Staten Island are their own islands. Queens and Brooklyn are located on Long Island, a 150 miles (241 Km) land mass which includes Nassau and Suffolk Counties which are not part of New York City. (Long Island actually has some of the best swimming beaches, recreational fishing and ocean scenery in North America).   New York is America's largest metropolitan area with over 16,000,000 people. The New York Metropolitan area includes a large part of New Jersey and southern Connecticut as well as Long Island.

Chaperone Fact:  Bill McMurray's wife and chaperone Bob White are from Long Island.   Bill married his wife there and lived there for two years.   Bob White grew up on the tip of Long Island at Montauk, which is where the best great white shark fishing is found on the East Coast.   Bill's father-in-law was a pioneer scuba diver exploring and discovering some of the most famous wrecked ships in America.

January 6 - Time is coming quickly.  Today is final payment due date.  We will still take applications until the trip is filled. Please tell your friends to send their applications. 

32 people have paid and are confirmed on the trip.  You can see who is and isn't confirmed on http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom2014.html.   Check it out and if we've made a mistake and you have paid please email me and let me know.  There are a total of 55 who have applied for the trip.

Our weather in Ohio is expected to horrible for the next two days (temperatures below -20C with high winds).   I'll probably to handy to the computer or my phone until it's over so please message me on Facebook. 

Good news the Statue of Liberty is open.  The Immigration museum in Ellis Island isn't open yet.

Fun trip tip:  Shoes are so important.  Make sure you have really comfortable warm shoes as it can be cold in March.  We walk many kilometers.  No one gains weight on this trip because of the walking. 

One of the highlights of our trip is a quick trip to Harvard University.  Most students end up buying Harvard t-shirts or other gear.   If you buy one and someone asked you if you went to Harvard, you can say yes, to buy a t-shirt.

January 2- Happy New Year's Kiddos.  For most of you your exchange is going reallllly fast.  It's now 2014 and it's only 64 days until the Eastern Trip.
January 6 is final payment deadline so make sure you get your payments into me quickly.
Please make sure you get your flights if you are flying the Columbus for the trip.  Make sure you email me your flight schedule.  Leave first flight March 7 and return to your host airport first flight March 17.    There are places left on the trip so tell your friends to hurry.  This is open to any Rotary Exchange student in the USA Canada, or Bahamas.   

We will be meeting in Columbus, Ohio at the Best Western Plus, Port Columbus Airport.  it's on Airpointe Dr., about 2 miles west of the Airport off Cassady Roda.  There will be a chaperones to meet you at the Hotel if you are driving in after 11am.  We will have people holding Rotary Trip signs in the center of the Baggage Claim are of Port Columbus Airport. 
How do you act in Hotels:  We are going to some pretty nice hotels and because of this we expect you to act like adults.  No screaming or running in the hotel, no loud talking in the halls, and you have to be in your rooms and quiet by 10pm.  Many hotels have spring loaded doors and they do tend to slam so be careful that they don't.    Our groups have traditionally been the best student groups our hotels get and we want to keep that up.  Chaperones:  Our chaperones all have background checks and spend up to three-four hours in training.  Most have been on several trips and many are volunteers or officers in Rotary Youth Exchange.
In Boston we hope you walk the Freedom Trail.  It's a walk of all the history sites in this historic city.  It also goes through some really neat neighborhoods.    

Trip Fact: Temperatures in Washington DC can be as warm as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. .  Temperatures in Boston can be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.   Fun Fact: Suburban Boston was the scene of the first major battle of the American Revolution. New York City was the site of three major bloody battles in the that same war.  There is a restaurant in Boston that insults all it's customers.  Some exchange students have gotten so angry they almost got arrested.

December 27 - We have 52 students on the trip so there is room, please tell your friends.

You can check who is on the trip (rooms are not finalized) by checking http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom2014.html
We have not set up the rooms yet and are just filling seats.   We will run two buses when we hit 80.

We have added a couple of chaperones to the mix.  Bob White, who is from Florida RYE is chaperoning.  He is from Long Island, NY.  Bob has been in Youth Exchange for over 20 years and leads two trips for Florida RYE.  He is also a great guy to have on the trip and loves exchange students.
Juliana Barker is doing her 2nd Eastern trip.  She has been a host mother and she and her husband counsel students in Lancaster OH. 

Hope you had a great Christmas/Holiday.   It's a big deal here and is lots of fun.  Just remember your D's during the New Years. 

 

December 19 - We are quickly filling the trip, so make sure your friends sign up for the trip. THERE ARE STILL PLACES AVAILABLE.

Please get your flights to Columbus booked if you are not coming by car.  Monday, Jeanne in our office will be back from a trip and can book your flights for you, you will need a credit card for the airline ticket.   
 
Did you know that most of our rules are suggestions from Exchange students who have been on other trips.  One of our most interesting rules is speaking English.  We require that you speak only English.  Kids want to be able to talk to everyone and the only language most share is English.  If you speak your own language, those who don't speak it feel isolated.  This causes bad feelings.
 
There are several great places we are excited about visiting.  In Gettysburg where we have an expert get on the buses and tell you about the battle.  It is one of the USA's most interesting historic sites.  There are 2000 monuments and all tell an interesting story.  

December 16 - We are back after a great trip and looking forward to the next one which is only 81 Days away.    So far we have filled up one bus. Make sure you get your friends moving on joining the trip.  It is first come first serve.

The great thing about the Florida Adventure was how well everyone got along together.  Chaperones, students and even our driver were all great friends at the end of the trip.  That's how these trips are supposed to be.   It's a mutual fun experience.

Just so you remember, you have to meet the trip at the Best Western Port Columbus Airport, in Columbus OH.   If you live far away you will need to get an air ticket to meet the trip March 7.  Start getting those tickets if you need them.  You need to be on the first available flight into Columbus, and your return is March 17, as early as possible.   If you live in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky you will probably drive here.   You will return at 6:00pm on March 16.

The chaperones lined up for the trip far at Bill McMurray, Jackie Favret, Dave Saho, Larry Jenkins, Vanessa Troup.  There will probably be 8 chaperones.

December 4 -I'm gone all next week on the Florida trip.  We have available place for two girls if any of you want to go. All we need is your OK, and payment of $799 for the trip.  Call me 614-899-1979 if you want to go.

Only 92 short days until the Eastern Trip. 

If you don't have a camera or good phone in your camera it sounds to me like a good holiday gift for an exchange student.  Students average around 700 photos on each of our trips.  

You are going to make a lot of friends on this trip.  Make sure you have plenty of cards with your information on it so you can all stay in touch.  Include your Facebook address, cell phone, home phone in your country and skype name on your cards.  You can get cheap cards at Vista Print if you don't have any.   Also bring lots of pins for exchanging which we do in Gettysburg on the last night.

Tell your friends to get their applications in for the Eastern trip. 

If you are flying to meet the trip, get your air tickets now.  You need to be in Columbus early on March 7, returning on March 17, earliest flight.

Chaperone Fact:  Vanessa Troup is from Belgium (and is still a citizen of Belgium).  Her father was a diplomat and she lived in the New York City as a teenager.   She attended Wellesley College in Boston and finished her education in Belgium.  She and her husband Ryan live in Lancaster Ohio. She is a many time host mother, RYE Volunteer and this is her 3rd Rotary Trip as a chaperone.  She is fluent in French (her native language).

November 26 - We are close to filling the first bus.  Tell your friends to get their application in as soon as possible.

I was watching a news show yesterday and saw where we meet the bus when we are in New York.  Gets me excited about going on the Eastern Trip again.  There are so many places we go which show up on Television and movies on this trip. Every part of our trip are in places that Movie directors, News people and television folks use for backdrops.  When you watch TV look at the backdrop.  You'll recognize it when we are on the trip.

We are going to the Statue of Liberty.  It has opened again and we are heading there again.  Last year because of Hurricane Sandy we had to skip it.   Still don't think we will be going to Ellis Island, but hopefully it might open again too.

If any of your are interested in being a team leader, please let me know. How we select team leaders is interesting.  Your district chair's make recommendations, you indicate a desire to be a team leaders.  But Jackie and I will ask certain students we have contact with to be team leaders.  We ask team leaders to give us feed back on how the trip is going in short meetings every other day.  We also ask team leaders to look for kids who might need help on the trip.  It has been extremely successful in the previous 29 trips we have done, even saving a couple of lives and many many trips for kids.  All students are welcome to come to team leader meetings. I announce them on the bus before we do them.  The meetings last about 20 minutes and are very helpful to us.

Awesome Trip Fact:  Battery Park in South Manhattan (New York City) is so named because there was a battery of Cannons there.   New York is surrounded by old  forts and gun emplacements.  The Statue of Liberty was built on an old Fort. The Biggest Island in New York Harbor, Governors Island was a major military base until just a few years ago.  First with the Army then the Coast Guard.  There are two large forts there.  I was stationed there during my military service in the Coast Guard and met my wife there.

November 20 - 

We have 40 kids already confirmed on the Eastern Trip and there are only 40 places available.  We think the trip may fill by New Years, so tell your friends to hurry.
 
You can see who is on the trip at http://rotarytrip.org/roteastroom2014.html  Tell us who you want to room with.  Make sure they want to room with you.We haven't assigned rooms yet and won't until January.
 
Please get your flights to Columbus booked if you are not coming by car.  Monday.  If you are flying you should arrive in Columbus Ohio (Airport code CMH) early as possible on March 7, returning early as possible March 17. 
 
There is still space on December 7th Disney trip so please let us know if you want to go.  Harry Potter awaits.
 
Did you know that most of our rules are suggestions from Exchange students who have been on other trips.  One of our most interesting rules is speaking English.  We require that you speak only English.  Kids want to be able to talk to everyone and the only language most share is English.  If you speak your own language, those who don't speak it feel isolated.  This causes bad feelings.
 
There are several great places we are excited about visiting.  Last year everyone loved Gettysburg where we have an expert get on the buses and tell you about the battle.  It is one of the USA's most interesting historic sites.  There are 2000 monuments and all tell an interesting story.  This past year was the 150th anniversary of the Battle. 

November 14 - It seems like a long time away, but it's only 113 days away, less than 4 months.   Start watching the news because you are going to the places where most of the news is made. Washington DC is the center of American Government.  It's where President Obama lives and works and it's where Congress lives....

New York is the media capital of the world.   Where we drop you off on the first day and pick you up on the 2nd day in Rockefeller Center.  Here is where NBC News is headquartered and broadcasts from.  Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live is produced here also.   Across the street is where Fox News is made.  On the East Side of Rockefeller Center is 5th Avenue, probably the best shopping street for high fashion (men and women's) in the World.  It's amazing.  Tiffany's, Bergdorf Goodman, Prada, and countless other famous stores have their headquarters here.  Down the street 20 blocks is Macy's, the largest store in the USA and maybe the world.  There is kilometer after kilometer of fabulous shopping, museums, historic hotels, and buildings and Central Park, an iconic gathering place.

Boston is very European in it's feel.  Narrow streets, old buildings, it where the American Revolution started in 1775 and is steeped in History.  It's also an iconic sports town with the Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, and Patriots.  There is a 5 kilometer trail you will follow call the Freedom Trail, which takes you around all the best historic and cultural sites in the city. 

In the news this week, "Whitey" Bulger, famous Boston Gangster was sentences to 2 consecutive life sentences for committing 11 murders.   He is the central figure in the movie "The Departed"  which was shot in North Boston.

The trip is half filled now, so tell your friends to get signed up as soon as possible.

Trip Fact:  Little Italy is located Mulbery Street in New York and was location for the famous movie "The Godfather".  Boston has a Little Italy know as the North End.  In both places you can get terrific Italian food and my favorite, Gelato, Italian Ice Cream.

Oct. 23 - I was gone for nearly two weeks and am trying to get caught up (beaches in the Caribbean were wonderful).

We have plenty of space on the trips so please tell your friends.  There is still space left on the Disney Trip if any of you who are not on it want to go.

The Eastern Trip is only 135 days away and although that sounds like a long time, it comes very quickly.  Make sure your friends are also signed up on the trip.  Any RYE student in the USA and Canada is welcomed to join the trip.  Right now there is space available, but the trip has been know to sell out as early as December.
 
 The Eastern Trip is a very fast paced and exciting trip.  We have very little time in the bus and only one long bus day (the next to last day).  The buses are nice and equipped with bathrooms.  We stay in nice hotels and are on the go from 7:30 am most days until 8 or 9 at night.  There is plenty of free time so you can explore on your own with your friends.  That time does depend on how well the group follows the rules which are few but important. 
 
 The cities are amazing.  Washington for 3 days visiting the Capitol, Smithsonian Institution, all the major monuments and walking all over the historic part of the city.   We also allow you to explore many of the museums on your own (in groups of 4 or more) so you can see the things which really excite you.  Washington has some of the world's great art museums, natural history museums, historic museums and if you like airplanes we visit one amazing museum together and urge you to see the National Air and Space Museum on your own. All the space artifacts are  there including Apollo 8, a space shuttle, rockets, historic planes including the Wright Brother's Plane which was the first plane to successfully fly.   Washington is also a very exciting city with the chance to see some famous people walking around. 
 
 New York is the most exciting city in the world.  You will get a chance to see all of it.  The Statue of Liberty, touring the entire city from Harlem to Wall Street, and especially Time Square, Fifth Avenue shopping, and Soho, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy and more. 
 
 Boston is the heart of what makes the USA the United States.  Here the American Revolution started and you can tour it on the Freedom Trail.  It is also the most European of American Cities with small streets, shops, and it's Universities.  We'll explore Harvard, drive by MIT, see the Boston Common, North Church and just enjoy the city. 
 
 The biggest surprise for most of our students is Gettysburg.  A sad, beautiful, Civil War Battlefield where an expert guide will take us around exploring all the amazing parts of the city. 
 
 I'll let you know more soon. 

Oct. 6 - I will be out of the office for the next 9 days but I will be checking my email. I'll be able to answer your questions within a few hours.   If you need an answer quickly (I'm going to be at Sea) email Jackie Favret - jackie.favret@gmail.com.  Anyone calling the office should leave a message and I'll answer with email.  Our voice-mail messages are sent to us by email. 

The trip is filling up nicely.  Please have your friends send their applications as soon as possible.  

You have been hearing about National Parks and Museums being shut down by the Congress madness.  We are confident everything will be back to normal before the trips so don't worry about it.  

Looking forward to meeting all of you.
 

October 1 - Lots to do before the Eastern Trip.   It's coming in March, but time moves very quickly during your exchange year. 

We have put the photo Rooming list on the website.  You can see who else is on the trip.  These are not your room mates, but we will work on that early in the new year.   The trip is filling up very quickly. 

Encourage your friends to get their applications in as soon as possible.

The first part of this trip is three days in Washington DC.  The Capitol of the USA, it's a beautiful city stuffed with incredible museums, monuments and buildings.  The size of Washington overwhelms you.  Everything is bigger and more beautiful than you expect. 

Start looking for things to do in Washington, New York, and Boston as you do have a lot of free time.  We'll make suggestions in these emails and Jackie and I are happy to give you suggestions.

Jackie Favret has been a chaperone and group leader on every trip we have done since 2007.  She is only 26 and is still finishing her University Degree and working two jobs.  She has two dogs, an English Sheepdog named Dude and a Cocker Spaniel named Kiera.

September 27, 2013 - Welcome to the Rotary Eastern Adventure. Time to start getting excited.  This is one absolutely awesome trip.
There are a few things you need to know.
All information is sent by email, so check your email.
Make sure you befriend Jackie Favret and I on Facebook.
We  have an Eastern Trip Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rotary-Eastern-Adventure/175974034117
All the Emails will be put on the Trip Webpage: http://rotarytrip.org/rotarytrip.html and http://rotarytrip.org/roteast14.html
This trip is an official Rotary Youth Exchange Event so all rules apply.
Please tell your friends to sign up for the trip as soon as possible.  This trip sells out.
This trip leaves from Columbus Ohio so make sure you start working with friends in your district to carpool to the Best Western Plus Port Columbus Airport.  Directions are found on the trip webpage.
If you are flying to Columbus make sure you book the earliest flight you can so you have less of chance of delays or cancellations.
Make sure you get your payments in on time.
I urge you to email me and Jackie and talk to us, so we can get to know you before the trips.  We are really looking forward to meeting you.  These trips are as much fun for us as they are for you.
Also please follow me on Twitter if you are on Twitter.
I've been doing trips for 15 years.  The Disney Trip will be my 31th Rotary Exchange Trip.   Jackie has been doing trips since 2007 and this will be her 21th Rotary Trip.
Your chaperones on this trip are Jackie, Me, Larry Jenkins, Dave Saho, and more to be announced soon .   All are veteran chaperones and huge supporters of Rotary Youth Exchange.
Learn more about them here http://rotarytrip.org/rotinfo.html
My daughter Liz was a RYE to Turkey in 2005-06.  She also studied at University in Turkey, Morocco and Argentina.

My contact information is.
Bill McMurray
6480 Dobson Sq. E.
Columbus OH 43229
614-899-1979 - Work
614-517-7702 - Cell Phone
bill.mcmurray@gmail.com
Twitter: @billmcmurray
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bill.mcmurray


Western Trip Emails

J
January 9 - We are going to see some pretty strange places.  We drive by a little town in Wyoming where JC Penney started his first store.  In Utah we drive by one of the biggest copper mines in the world.   Near Idaho Falls (which we drive through) the use of nuclear energy as a power source was invented.   We are going through some of the best potato growing country in the world in Idaho.  In San Francisco we'll see where the "Beat Generation" was born.  One of the fathers is still alive and runs a book store there "The City Lights Book Store".   There is a restaurant in San Fran which serves Garlic Ice Cream.   We still spend some time on the "Loneliest Highway in America" in Nevada.  We will drive through a part of Nevada where prostitution is legal.  We will also drive past a forest of the oldest living things on earth, the Bristle Cone Pine Tree.
I will keep talking about drinking lots of water.  Every year kids get ill from dehydration.  Bring a 2-liter water bottle (a cheap canteen or water bottle will work) and sip all the time.  If you are thirsty on this trip you are already dehydrated.  You be faint, have headaches and feel lousy.   Every chaperon will be drinking and you should follow them, because they know what happens.

January 2 - The Western Trip is open to any Rotary Exchange student in the USA, Canada or the Bahamas.   If you have a friend who wants to go, please have them send me an email.   It is filling up rapidly. 

 
This is a tough trip physically and there are early mornings, long days, lots of exercise and intense activity.  You will have more fun if you are in decent shape.   You don't have to be athletic.  Much of the trip is at very high altitudes (1000-2500 meters) and in dry desert conditions.  I have asthma and it is the only time I use my inhaler.  It can be tough.  If you don't get plenty of rest on the trip and eat well you will get sick.  Happens every year.
 
I will keep talking about drinking lots of water.  Every year kids get ill from dehydration.  Bring a 2-liter water bottle (a cheap canteen or water bottle will work) and sip all the time.  If you are thirsty on this trip you are already dehydrated.  You be faint, have headaches and feel lousy.   Every chaperon will be drinking and you should follow them, because they know what happens.
 
Fun fact:  Rattlesnakes are deathly afraid of skunks. 
 
Chaperon fact:   Dave Saho is a retired Steel Worker from Eastern Ohio.  Dave is an amazing golfer and turned down scholarships to play golf in college.  He is married and spend his spare time running a recycling program for this town which funds the library.  

December 18 - It has been a while since I've contacted you, but we just completed a great Florida Adventure and are getting started on the Eastern Trip soon.  The Western Trip is doing well but please make sure your friends are signing up.  It is open to any Rotary Exchange student in the USA, Canada or Bahamas.

What is the most exciting part of the tour?  The depends on who you are talking to.  Some thing it's LA or San Francisco.  Others get excited about the National Parks. I promise you there is not a boring day on the entire trip.  Between the hiking, white water raftings, exploring great American cities, or wandering the cowboy town of Virginia City, it's all fun. 

Make sure you consider going on the Eastern Trip if you can.  It's a great way to get to know other fellow exchange students you meet on the Western Trip.  Also you learn about how we run a trip.

Our trips are Student Centric, which means we listen to the feedback we get from students to improve the tour.  It is different every year.

 

November 22 - I found something really cool on Google Maps.  The Link below is from String Lake which is our Hike in Grand Teton.  Take a look, you can follow the trail on this version of street view. https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/114784992503029538784/d156ccf0fe5ef272/-7pXCecGgUcAAAQJOJoR7A?gl=us&heading=207&pitch=102&fovy=91

Another place we go is San Francisco.  Here is another Google View https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/108290024531713938742/315f7b2dc375a182/gWgxdFsIFlsAAAQIt8ueDA?gl=us&heading=188&pitch=98&fovy=91

This is a view of Artist Point in Yellowstone.  https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/117344536349739778245/61d6ba2e848976e2/wmPAjWWgO78AAAQJOE7WgA?gl=us&heading=360&pitch=90&fovy=75

You can seem most of the places we are going on Google Earth, Google Maps and their views page.  

It actually is more beautiful in person.

November 21 - We are very close to filling the first bus.  Make sure you tell your friends to get their applications in. It's really important because the first 50 kids under deposit are locked on the trip.  After that we need another 30 kids before we lock in the 2nd bus. 

The Western Trip is so special. It is also tough because we are in deserts and at high altitudes much of the time.  You must keep hydrated.   This Christmas ask for a 2 liter water bottle for the trip.  You definitely need it.  We are always going to hospitals for students who don't drink enough water.

One of our coolest destinations is Virginia City.  An old cowboy town which still has wooden sidewalks and old buildings and a wild-west feel.  It is a popular destination for motorcyclists.  It doe have Casinos (which you can't enjoy) and old time saloons (which do offer soft drinks).  Mark Twain, who wrote Huckleberry Finn, worked as a journalist during the old west days.  He wrote something which offended a local businessman and had to leave town or face off in a gun fight with the businessman. 

It seems like a long time until the Western Trip, but it is coming quicker than you think. 

Chaperone Fact:  Bob White has been a major part of Rotary Youth Exchange for over 20 years.  He actually coordinates the Rotary Youth Exchange Trips page for Rotary International.   Bob lives in South Florida and works with exchange students in Florida and the Bahamas. 

November 14 - We already have 40 people on the Western Trip, which means we'll probably have a full trip.  Get your friends to get their applications in as soon as possible.

We are working the Disney trip (which still has space available if you aren't on it and decide to go).  It's a great trip to get over those mid-year, holiday blues. 

We call the trip an adventure because we do some pretty adventurous stuff.  White water rafting, hiking, explore some crazy western towns, as well as big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Phoenix.   This trip goes to some of the world's most spectacular national parks.   We see the absolute best, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches and more.  Everyday is a new adventure and you should be in pretty good shape to do it right.  Start thinking of your fitness before you go on any of the trips.  If you are really out of shape, you will get exhausted quickly.  You will get exhausted anyway, but what a fun way to get exhausted. 

Trip Fact: San Francisco is surrounded by cities where the average summer temperature is 35-40C.  San Francisco can get as cold as 10C because of the Humboldt Current which flows from the Artic right into the bay.  It's amazing, and creates a very comfortable and beautiful place.

Chaperone Fact:  Sema Thimmes was on this trip as a Turkish exchange student in 2004.  She is now an American Citizen, married to an American (Chaperone Josh) and has a college degree from a University in her Exchange Host City.  Sema has chaperoned three other trips, including the Western Trip.   The chaperone who is in the best physical condition is Dave Saho. Over 60 Dave is very hard to keep up with on hikes.  

October 1 - Please get your friends to sign up for this trip.  Remember that the flights are included in the price of this trip.  We make the reservations and issue the tickets.  Make sure we know the best major airport near you. 

Our chaperones are an experienced group.   Sema Thimmes is a many time chaperone and is inbound chair in District 6690.  She was an inbound exchange student from Turkey and was on this trip in 2004.  Her Husband Josh is a first time chaperone but has been a RYE volunteer for many years.  Josh is an avid outdoors man and great addition to our crew.    Dave Saho has been on many trips for the last 7 years and is a fixture.   Bob White has been a RYO for nearly 30 years and is internationally known as an expert in Youth Exchange and has been an international officer in organizations like the North American Youth Exchange Network.  He is the coordinator of the RYE Trip Web Site for Rotary International. 

Be ready for plenty of physical activity on the trip. Hiking, White Water rafting, sightseeing and more are part of this trip.

September 27, 2013 Welcome to the Rotary Western Adventure.  You are going to see more the USA on this trip than most Americans do.
There are a few things you need to know. All information is sent by email, so check your email.
Make sure you befriend Jackie Favret and I on Facebook.
We will have a Disney Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rotary-Western-Adventure/176185940884
All the Emails will be put on the Trip Webpage: http://rotarytrip.org/rotarytrip.html and http://rotarytrip.org/rotwest14.html
Airfare is included on this trip.  We will book the earliest flight you can so you have less of chance of delays or cancellations.
Make sure you get your payments in on time. This is critical because we have to issue airline tickets.
This is an active trip.  One thing we will mention 100 times in our emails is the need to carry water with you at all times as dehydration is a major problem on this trip.
I urge you to email me and Jackie and talk to us, so we can get to know you before the trips.  We are really looking forward to meeting you.  These trips are as much fun for us as they are for you.
Also please follow me on Twitter if you are on Twitter.

I've been doing trips for 15 years.  This Trip will be my 32th Rotary Exchange Trip.   Jackie has been doing trips since 2007 and this will be her 22th Rotary Trip.
Your chaperones on this trip so far are Jackie, Me, Dave Saho, Josh Thimmes, Sema Akgun Thimmes, and Bob White, .   All are veteran chaperones and huge supporters of Rotary Youth Exchange.
I'm a former host father, a 24 year Rotarian, active RYE Officer, and father of an exchange student.

My contact information is.
Bill McMurray
6480 Dobson Sq. E.
Columbus OH 43229
614-899-1979 - Work
614-517-7702 - Cell Phone
bill.mcmurray@gmail.com
Twitter: @billmcmurray
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bill.mcmurray


Disney Trip Emails:

December 6 - 

What do you absolutely positively have to know for tomorrow? 
  1. Wear something with Rotary on it, a t-shirt, hat, jacket, sweatshirt... so we can quickly identify you.
  2. Drop off point:  Best Western Plus Port Columbus Airport, 1450 Airpointe Drive,  Columbus, Ohio, 43219-1501.  Directions:  Off exit 9 on I-670, about 2 miles southwest of Port Columbus Airport.   The exit is marked Cassady Avenue.  Go north, the hotel is behind the Speedway Petrol Station.This is also the pick up point. With one exception at the end of the trip EVERYONE will be dropped off the same place they joined the trip.
  3. Chaperone phone numbers:  Bill - 614-517-7702,  Jackie - 614-565-3072, Janine - 614-263-4906,  Larry - 614-975-2540.  Call Bill and Jackie first.
  4. At least half this trip you will need warm clothes. I recommend a hoodie, warm sweater, gloves, hat and windbreaker.
  5. During December in Florida it frequently rains.  Bring a raincoat, waterproof poncho or waterproof windbreaker. Florida can be really warm.... it can also be really cold.  Just saying.
  6. Bring a backpack to carry your stuff in. 
  7. I know what you all look like except Natapan Wiwikul.
  8. Comfy shoes are REALLLLLY IMPORTANT.  You are going to be walking for many miles as well and even more kilometers. 
  9. Bring a camera or a good camera phone.   I will be putting pictures on Facebook all during the trip and so will Jackie. But you need your own pictures.
  10. If you know you room mates, get in touch so you can share stuff like hairdryers. 
  11. You are going to need at least $200 for food.  If you want to buy other stuff, bring more money.  
  12. The language of the trip is English.  It's rude to talk in other languages around people who don't speak your language.  Please keep talking English. We do yell at people about this.
  13. THIS IS A ROTARY EVENT.  Please treat everyone and Rotary with respect.  I'm a 23 year Rotarian, Larry has been a Club President and Assistant District Governor.  Jackie is a Rotaract President. 
  14. Don't scream or yell on the buses, hotels, or near me.  Roller coasters are OK.  My whistle is louder and more irritating. :D
  15. On the bus stay seated.  You can walk from seat to seat but can not stand in the aisle.
  16. Keep the bus clean. 
  17. No speakers allowed on the bus. Headphones only. 
  18. Remember the 4 D's if you catch you breaking one, we have no other course but to send you home (usually meaning terminating your exchange), RULES ARE STRICTLY ENFORCED.  
  19. Anyone not having fun will be forced to have fun.
  20. Our goal is to make this trip a magical experience for you.  We need you to help us do that. 

 

December 5 - Jackie and I will at the hotel around 11am on Saturday, December 7th.  The hotel is a fairly new hotel and has a wonderful pool and hot tub as well as a fitness center.  There are several fast food restaurants around the hotel and a couple of small shops.   Most of your day, should you arrive early will be meeting the new exchange students.   People will be arriving all day so there will be new faces arriving all the time.

If you delayed or have any questions call Jackie or me.  Jackie's phone number is 614-565-3072 and my number is 614-517-7702.   Janine will be arriving pretty early, but Larry doesn't come until around 6pm.   

If you have a  cell phone please put these numbers in your phone-book.  We all have texting capability. 

Jacket Favret     614-565-3072
Bill McMurray    614-517-7702
Larry Jenkins     614-975-2540
Janine Hanigan    614-263-4906

Students asked me if they can bring computers or tablets, the answer is yes you can but they are your responsibility and we do not go back to get anything left in the hotel (something which happen all the time). 

I would put your name, USA address and phone number of items like cellphones, Ipods, tablets, computers and other valuable electronics.  Also I would put your name and address and phone on a piece of paper inside your luggage as well as you MUST have your name on the outside of your luggage on a luggage tag or label.  

IT IS YOUR JOB TO HANDLE YOUR OWN LUGGAGE so if it is too heavy for you to lift, too bad, you have to lift it. You also are responsible for putting your bag on the bus in the morning.   Don't just throw in it, help the student volunteers and chaperones put it into the bus. 

Remember there are 4 people in your room so don't fling your stuff around the room, allow room for others. 

You do need money for lunch and dinner so bring $200-$350 spending money.  Don't spend it all in one place.  Ration it out.  We look for inexpensive places to eat and supermarkets so you can buy food with your room mates.

Try to plan with your friends all the things you want to see on the trip.   There are maps of the parks which we pick up each day.  You can also find them on-line. 
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/
https://www.universalorlando.com/Theme-Parks/Islands-of-Adventure/Wizarding-World-of-Harry-Potter.aspx

We have purchased all the tickets to the parks and hotels.  Once you are there, all have to get is your food. 
In Disney we are first going to EPCOT, then to the Magic Kingdom with one day in each park.   We are going to Universal Islands of Adventure on the third day in Orlando.  

Trip Fact:   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was designed and approved by J.K. Rowlings. Right down to the Butter Beer, and Pumpkin Juice, which is delicious by the way. 

 

December 4 - The trip starts in 3 days so we are getting down to the wire.  Make sure we know how you are arriving.  Also make sure you get your money to us or bring it with you.  If we don't get payment, you can't go on the trip. 

We have a 55 passenger bus and right now there are 42 people on the bus.  So there will be plenty of single seats and room to move around.  It won't be crowded.
 Our bus driver Doug has rules.  Doug is a ex-paratrooper and forest ranger so I wouldn't make him mad.  Doug has done all our Florida trips and all our Eastern Trips since 2009. 

  1. Don't stand in the aisle of the bus.  You can move seats but not stop and talk while standing. 

  2. Don't sit on the arm rests on the seats.

  3. Only two people to a seat.  

  4. Try to use the bathrooms during the rest stops where we stop every 2 hours. There are bathrooms on the bus, but they are for emergencies. If we over-use them they smell and we have to live with it. 

  5. We also want to keep the bus clean so you must pick up your area before getting off the bus. We will have trash bags all over the bus.    

  6. If you mess up the bus you will spend your evening cleaning it. 

  7. No gum chewing on the bus. They always end up on the floor making our drivers crazy.

  8. If you get car sick sit in the front of the bus.

  9. The first 2 seats in the front are reserved for the group leaders.

We are meeting some of you in Wythesville, VA and some of you south of Charlotte NC .  Everyone else has to get to the Best Western Plus Airport in Columbus OH. If you are driving down check in with Christine. 
Check in is really easy.   In the lobby, one of the chaperones will be be checking your name off a list and giving you your keys. Our rooms should be ready early. Once checked in  you are then free to get to know everyone, swim and explore the area around the hotel. Around 6:30 pm we will have pizza and have a formal meeting and introduction of everyone. The first day is always fun and exciting.

 Upon return we are coming back through Savannah, GA, which is one of the coolest cities in the south for a break on our way home.  It's beautiful, historic and interesting.  Savannah is a port city and ships go up the river past the exciting waterfront of the city.  Lots of shops, places to eat, get coffee and explore.  I'll be taking a group into the city to explore a couple of the cities 24 Squares, which are beautiful little parks.  It's one of the oldest planned cities in North America. 

 

December 3 - I messed up in my last email, and Eagle Eye Pablo Zar found it.  I said we meet on Friday,  we meet on Saturday December 7.  

The only people I have flying are Alina and Victor.  If you are flying are not Alina or Victor please let me know.

This trip is the perfect size to have lots of fun.  

Columbus Facts;  It's home the the #2 ranked College Football Team, The Ohio State University Buckeyes.   It's the Capital of Ohio and is the largest city in Ohio.  It's also home of many many insurance companies; Wendy's Hamburgers;  Donato Pizza;  NHL Hockey team - The Blue Jackets;  Columbus Airport is the oldest transcontinental airport in the USA;  Famous Columbus People - Col. Paul Tippet, who dropped the first atomic bomb; Eddie Rickenbacker, America's top ace in World War 1 and founder of TWA Airlines; Humorist James Thurber; artist George Bellows; Golfer Jack Nicklaus; Famous Zoo Keeper Jack Hanna (a honorary member of my Rotary Club);  Bow Wow; President Bushs' Father and Grandfather; and writer RL Stine

 

December 2 - Where do I find answers to my questions?
http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html  The trip web page has links to almost every question you might need answered.
Here are answers an much more. 

  1. What time do I have to be at the hotel in Columbus?  Between 11am and 6pm.

  2. Who are my roommates? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneyroom1314.html

  3. Where can I find an Itinerary?  The website. http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html

  4. I didn't get to read all the emails, where can I find them?  http://rotarytrip.org/rotemails.html

  5. I need to contact the chaperones, where can I find them?  http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html#Disney_Trip_Chaperones_

  6. How will I recognize the other students? You will be given a neck/wallet name tag, which also will hold an itinerary/timeline and chaperone/hotel phone numbers.

  7. Where do I find the application? http://rotarytrip.org/application14.doc

  8. Where do I find directions to where I need to be this Saturday? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneypickupdropoffinstruction.html

  9. Where do I figure out where and when for my parents to pick me up at the end of the trip? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneypickupdropoffinstruction.html

  10. Where can I find all the hotel addresses and phone numbers and pictures of the hotels? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneyhotels12.html

  11. I need an up to date excuse letter for school where can I find that? http://rotarytrip.org/Rotdisneyschoolpermission2013.docx   (This was just updated) 

  12. Where can I find suggestions on what to pack and bring with me on the trip (as well as how to stay healthy)? http://rotarytrip.org/safehealthy.html

  13. Do I need a swimming suit?  YES, pool in Columbus and in Florida.

  14. Where can I find a great packing list?  http://rotarytrip.org/rotpacking.html  (much of this is for the Western Trip but you can find everything you might need.

  15. I'm flying to meet the trip where I find what I need to know about where to meet you? http://rotarytrip.org/rotarydisneyeasterntripflyinginstr.html

  16. What are the chaperone telephone numbers? We will give them to you when you arrive.   Bill McMurray's cell phone is 614-517-7702.  

Interesting Trip Fact:   Our Florida hotel is famous for their Mickey Mouse shaped waffles.

November 29 - Only one week until we start our adventure. 

32 important things to know about the Rotary Disney Trip

  1. If you are driving to Columbus to meet the trip, you need to be there on Friday, December 7.

  2. There will be someone at the hotel by 11am.

  3. Our hotel is the Best Western Port Columbus1450 Airpointe DriveColumbus, Ohio, 43219-1501 Phone: 614/337-8400

  4. If you show up after 6:00 pm, you better get your own dinner as you will miss the pizza party.

  5. If you get into trouble on this trip you won't be allowed on any of the other Rotary trips.

  6. It's probably going to be cold in Orlando for a few days.... Bring Warm clothes.

  7. Recommended spending money is about $150.00, 250.00 if you want to buy lots of souvenirs. 

  8. You are allowed one suitcase or duffel bag and one carry-on

  9. If you want to bring a laptop you can, but it is your responsibility.

  10. At least 1 Ipod, camera, or phone is lost every day.

  11. If you leave something at a hotel it's your responsibility to get to sent to you.

  12. The chaperones are your friends and want you to have a wonderful time.  They are not the enemy.

  13. When we say 10 pm in the rooms, we MEAN 10 pm in the room. 

  14. The Combined Rotary Trip experience of the chaperons is 65 Rotary Trips. 

  15. If you have a question just ask.  There are no stupid questions.  If it's a really dumb question we will make fun of you but we still love you. 

  16. When the chaperones make announcements on the bus LISTEN.  After a while we don't repeat them. If you don't hear them you are still responsible for what happens.

  17. Our bus has 55 seats, a bathroom, DVD system and a very competent driver who knows all about exchange students.

  18. The front 2 seats are for the chaperons, you are welcome to join us in those seats to take pictures or just to talk.

  19. Talk to the chaperones, they are pretty cool people. 

  20. All the chaperons are Harry Potter Freaks, including the two guys.  I have read the books 5 times, seen the movies countless time and have the movies and books on the my Ipod. 

  21. Larry Jenkins is worst that I am.  Jackie and Janine are just freaks about it.

  22. The chaperones  usually spend money in the Harry Potter gift shops.

  23. We are bringing multiple Disney and all the Harry Potter Movies.  As well as some other movies

  24. Please be quiet and nice on the bus and hotels.  The chaperones and drivers HATE screaming or whistling anywhere.

  25. You will be representing your country and Rotary.  Remember this always.

  26. Get to know every single person on the trip.  Make this your goal.

  27. You MUST stay in groups of 4 or more.

  28. SPEAK ENGLISH ON THE BUS and IN THE ROOMS.

  29. Take pictures (put yourself in the pictures). 

  30. Don't break any rules, we've seen every trick in the book.

  31. Be aware of things happening around you.  It will keep you from getting killed.

  32. If you don't have fun on this trip there is something wrong with you.

November 26 - Sound like a broken record, but we still have some places left on the Disney trip.  Please tell your friends.

YOU DO NOT NEED YOUR ROTARY JACKETS FOR THIS TRIP!!!!

You don't need to take your passports, but I would take a copy of it if you have one.  We keep a copy of it (If you sent it to us in the application like we asked).  If you have a photo ID (driver's license, government issued ID, student ID) bring it along.  Never know when or if you need it.  Flying people need their passports (we will collect them when we meet you.)

Did you know that Mickey Mouse' first name was "Steamboat Willie"?

We may divide up the bus into houses (like Hogwarts).  I'm head of Slitherin House. 

Get a small atlas (a map book).  They cost very little and you can follow all three trips so you can remember where you went on these trips.  I will help you fill out the route.

Bring a small pillow for the bus.  You can't take pillows from the hotel (they call it stealing).

Speaking of stealing.  Last year a student in our district was sent home for shoplifting a used hat (worth about $1).  If you are caught stealing on this trip you will get sent home.... when you get out of jail.  And you will never be allowed back into the USA again.

11 days until the trip

This will be my 30th Rotary Youth Exchange Trip.  Pretty excited about it too.

 

November 25 - Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Exchange students learn to love this holiday because it is a fiesta of non-stop eating, hanging out with family and watching awesome stuff on TV.   Highly recommend the roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Remember we will walk all the calories off you in a little over a week. 

When we are in the theme parks everything is about Christmas and holidays. There are millions of lights, hundreds of Christmas Trees and traditional American holiday events at Walt Disney World with parades including a light parade (weather permitting), fireworks, shows and really fun events.

We have named the team leaders

First

Last 

Mimi

Hernandez 

Cata 

Aliste 

Bamboo

Chen

Yagmur

Tayan

Jonas 

Fiss

Joseph

Kunz

Pablo 

Zar

Anuar

Canaan

We have named team leaders for this Trip and the list is above.  How we select team leaders is interesting.  Your district chair's make recommendations, you indicate a desire to be a team leaders.  But Jackie and I will ask certain students we have contact with to be team leaders.  We ask team leaders to give us feed back on how the trip is going in short meetings every other day.  We also ask team leaders to look for kids who might need help on the trip.  It has been extremely successful in the previous 29 trips we have done, even saving a couple of lives and many many trips for kids.  All students are welcome to come to team leader meetings. I announce them on the bus before we do them.  The meetings last about 20 minutes and are very helpful to us.  If you are going on other trips and want to be a team leader let me know and I'll put you on the next trip as team leader.

 

November 23 - Two weeks until you all need to be in Columbus Ohio to start our adventure.  Looking forward to meeting all of you.

One important thing we ask is that you speak English.  Kids really feel left out when they can't understand what is being said around them.   We all speak English.  The only time we don't mind you speaking your language is when you are explaining something to someone from your  country who who doesn't understand what is being said.   A number of our students are the only ones who speak their language. Don't isolate them.

Start looking for friends with whom you can explore the parks.  The more the merrier. We like it on this trip is you stay in groups of 4 or more.  I think it is more fun.  First year we did this trip all the kids and chaperones stayed together.  It was so much fun and there are so many funny stories (we  still kid each other about it).

Plan on pacing yourself.  In Disney we are in the parks over 13 hours.  They are huge parks but you should be able to see everything. 

 

November 22 - Our trip isn't just about Disney and Universal.  There are a lot of other interesting things to see en route. 

We drive through Ohio and West Virginia.  We cross the Ohio River at Gallipolis.  This was a French Settlement.  During the settlement days there was a terrible battle on the West Virginia side at Point Pleasant called the Battle of Kanawha between the Shawnee and Mingo Indian tribes.  Over 75 militia and a greater number of Indians were killed. 

We drive through Charleston WV, which is the capitol of the State.  It's gold dome is beautiful.
We travel through Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  It's a very diverse and interesting change in scenery.  In parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Alligators are common (probably won't see any but you never know.).  In Florida don't go near any lakes, Alligators like tasty exchange students.

On our way home we spend several hours in Savannah.  A beautiful southern City.  It's going to be a highlight of the trip for you.  It was made famous in the book and movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". 

You'll notice pretty extreme differences in accent and words used between Ohio and Florida.    Once you cross the Ohio River you'll hear words like Y'all, Howdy and Right Pretty.   Sometimes it's hard for students to understand southerners.  Our Southern living exchange students think Ohioan's talk to fast and are hard to understand.   If you are learning your English here, you'll develop the same accents. 

We stop a lot on the trip for bathroom breaks and meals and they are usually in really pretty areas.

If you want to see virtual Disney check out https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/100039713894403535523/f2a8ac15b0432232/Epk0HEyHj04AAAAGOjXzYA?gl=us&heading=454&pitch=95&fovy=75

 

November 21 -Where do I find answers on the internet for all my questions.  If you can't find an answer either call or email me or facebook message me.  

What is the itinerary and main page for this trip? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html

 Who are my room mates and who else is on the bus and where are they from?  http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneyroom1314.html

 Where do I meet the trip and where and when am I dropped off? http://www.rotarytrip.org/rotdisneypickupdropoffinstruction.htm

Where are all the answers to questions I might want to ask? http://www.rotarytrip.org/FAQ.htm

 Who are the chaperones and I do I get to know them? http://www.rotarytrip.org/rotinfo.htm

 What at the names, address and phone numbers for our hotels? http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisneyhotels12.html

 What are the rules and what will happen if I break them? http://rotarytrip.org/rules.html

 I am flying and where you I meet the chaperons at the airport.  http://rotarytrip.org/rotarydisneyeasterntripflyinginstr.html 

Things have happened on trips.  A boy broke several rules on the Disney trip and wasn't allowed on any of the other trips.  This year anyone who doesn't act properly will not be allowed on the Eastern or Western Trip.   If you break a major D you will be sent home, which usually means your exchange is terminated. We have done it in the past so it isn't an idle threat.


Disney Fact:  Walt Disney was a animator made famous by his character Mickey Mouse.  In the 1950s he built Disneyland which has spawned parks all over the world.  Walt Disney World was his dream and he died before it was completed. 

 

November 20 - It's only a little over 2 weeks away until our excellent adventure into the deep south and the Sunshine State.

You might want to find a 1 liter bottle to fill with water.  Drinks are very expensive.  There are drinking fountains to fill the bottles at in the parks.  Also remember that the Water everywhere in the USA is drinkable and safe. 

You have to be on time.  When we say to be someplace at a certain time, you MUST be there.  Otherwise we will miss things in the parks and it holds up the buses.  We will not take people who are frequently late on future trips.  

On our trips you have to be in your rooms and quiet by 10pm.  You don't have to sleep, but YOU CAN NOT LEAVE THE ROOM.  Get water, ice and other items  before 10pm.

Many of you are going on all three trips.  It's a good time to start a habit you will thank yourself for when you are older.  Take a journal and write where you've been and your experiences during the trips.  We are going to what are probably the best places in the USA on these trips.  Your experiences will be unforgettable, but it's better if you write them down.  Who knows, there might be a book in there.

I imagine if you are going on the trip you may be a Harry Potter freak.  Jackie, Larry Janine and I all love the books and the movies and are really looking forward to Universal's "Wizarding World of Harry Potter".   My daughter's forced me to start reading these books years ago and they created a monster.   We have all the books (including one in Turkish and one is Spanish), The Audio Books (American and English Versions which are different),  and all the movies in Blueray and  DVD as well as being on my Ipod.  You can share your Harry Potter obsession with us if you like.

There is still space available on the trip as well as the other two trips.

November 15 - Our coach driver is really experienced and has done this trip every year we've done it.  His name is Doug Wilson and is the father of 4 girls and 2 grand daughters.  In his earlier life he was a college graduate forest ranger.  He was also a paratrooper in the Army.   Like the chaperones, he looks forward to these trips every year.  He also does our Eastern Adventure tour and is an excellent, safe driver, who likes exchange students.   He does get mad when kids mess up the bus by putting trash on the floor.  There are plenty of plastic bags to put trash in, so please keep the bus clean.

Our rules seem hard but they really aren't.   There is always a great reason to have them and it's primarily to keep you safe or out of trouble.   For instance you have to be in your room at 10pm on all our trips.  Normal hotel rules demand that student groups must be out of the halls by 10pm.  The hotels love our groups because we do such a good job of this.   Also we don't allow over 12 people in any room at any time (hotel rooms).  The furniture can't handle more weight than that and one year kids had to pay for a broken bed because so many kids were sitting on the bed.   All our hotels are Non-smoking so if you smoke in a room your room will be charged anywhere from $200 to $500 to clean the rooms.  That's why we have a no-smoking rule. 

Swimming:   There is a pool at our first night hotel you can use.  Also if the weather is nice you might have a couple of hours to swim in Kissimmee.  Pack your bathing suits.  Our first night hotel pool is really nice.

Trip Fact:  We stop in Savannah on our way home.  Savannah is considered one of the oldest and most historic cities in the USA.  It consist of 24 most beautiful squares (mini parks).  It's a major sea port and is filled with history.

November 14 - The chaperones can't wait for the Disney Trip.  It's one of our favorites.  These parks are so wonderful and fun to visit.  You can't help but learn lots of and lots of things in them.  

The Magic Kingdom is broken up into "Lands".  Adventure Land, which features Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Safari and my favorite the Tiki Hut.  

Frontier Land takes you to old America with Riverboats, Native American encampments, "The Haunted House" (my first stop in the park), Water Flume rides,the Hall of Presidents and more amazing places. 

Tomorrow Land tells us what the future may be like.  They keep updating it.  Great rides including a roller coaster which is totally in the dark "Space Mountain". 
Main Street gives you an idea what American towns were like in the 1890s.  Here you can catch a real steam train which takes you around the park.

The most famous part of the Magic Kingdom is Fantasy Land.  Mickey Mouse, Winne The Pool and Captain Hook can be found here.  There are a bunch of new rides here.  You can visit with the Little Mermaid.  

All over the park you can have your picture taken with Ariel, Mickey and all the Disney Characters and princesses and princes. 

Only 23 days.

November 13 - Only 24 days until the trip starts.  Some things you need to do before the trip.

Make sure you know how you are getting to Columbus Ohio.   Most of you are driving, some of your are being picked up en-route, and some are flying in.  I NEED TO KNOW HOW YOU ARE GETTING HERE SO I CAN PLAN.

Make sure you get your payments into us.  I have put a web page showing who owes what on the webpage.  Look at http://rotarytrip.org/Rotdisneyowed13.html  to check if your payment got registered.

You can see the old emails on the website to catch up on anything you might have missed.  Check it out at http://rotarytrip.org/rotemails.html

You have all signed the rules, make sure you understand them. There are some other rules which are common sense rules.
1. Keep the bus neat and clean.  We don't want our bus driver to have to drive all day then have to clean the bus at the end of the day.  We provide garbage bags, make sure you use them.
2. You can't stand in the aisles of the bus when it is moving.  You can change seats and move around but you can't stand because if the bus has to stop quickly you will get hurt.
3. You have to be in your room and can't leave after 10:00pm every night.  You don't have to go to sleep, but you can't leave your room.  We have nice hotels, but all hotels can be dangerous after that hour.   It's a standard rule in most hotels anyway.
4.  We expect everyone to respect everyone else. 
5. Our chaperones donate their time and vacation to go on our trips and help you have a great time.  They are not servants, they are Rotary volunteers so please treat them with respect and help them do their job.
6.  We allow a lot of free time.  We hope on this trip and demand on our other trips that you stay in groups of 4 or more.  It's the safest way to travel.  Don't go off wandering by yourself, stay with a larger group.

Chaperone fact:  Larry Jenkins just got re-elected to Westerville Ohio City Council.  Westerville has been designated as the best town to live in the the United States by several organizations and publications.  We like to think Larry is a big part of that.  He's a great guy.  

November 12- Only 24 days until the trip starts.  Some things you need to do before the trip.

Make sure you know how you are getting to Columbus Ohio.   Most of you are driving, some of your are being picked up en-route, and some are flying in.  I NEED TO KNOW HOW YOU ARE GETTING HERE SO I CAN PLAN.

Make sure you get your payments into us.  I have put a web page showing who owes what on the webpage.  Look at http://rotarytrip.org/Rotdisneyowed13.html  to check if your payment got registered.

You can see the old emails on the website to catch up on anything you might have missed.  Check it out at http://rotarytrip.org/rotemails.html

You have all signed the rules, make sure you understand them. There are some other rules which are common sense rules.
1. Keep the bus neat and clean.  We don't want our bus driver to have to drive all day then have to clean the bus at the end of the day.  We provide garbage bags, make sure you use them.
2. You can't stand in the aisles of the bus when it is moving.  You can change seats and move around but you can't stand because if the bus has to stop quickly you will get hurt.
3. You have to be in your room and can't leave after 10:00pm every night.  You don't have to go to sleep, but you can't leave your room.  We have nice hotels, but all hotels can be dangerous after that hour.   It's a standard rule in most hotels anyway.
4.  We expect everyone to respect everyone else. 
5. Our chaperones donate their time and vacation to go on our trips and help you have a great time.  They are not servants, they are Rotary volunteers so please treat them with respect and help them do their job.
6.  We allow a lot of free time.  We hope on this trip and demand on our other trips that you stay in groups of 4 or more.  It's the safest way to travel.  Don't go off wandering by yourself, stay with a larger group.

Chaperone fact:  Larry Jenkins just got re-elected to Westerville Ohio City Council.  Westerville has been designated as the best town to live in the the United States by several organizations and publications.  We like to think Larry is a big part of that.  He's a great guy.  

October 29 - We are a little over a month away from the Rotary Disney Trip.   Make sure you let me know how you are getting to the trip.   We are going to look at everyone on the trip in a few days and get it all together to see if we need to put a chaperone at the airport. 
Our meet and greet hotel is the Best Western Plus  Port Columbus Airport (only a couple of miles from the airport.  Everyone will gather there (except maybe kids we pick up en route).  That first evening we go over the trip, have a meet and greet and just learn the rules. 

This trip is really fun but the coolest thing about it is the chance to connect with other exchange students and the chaperones.   Many of us will be traveling together on three trips and it becomes like a family.   The trip is a cool learning experience too.  You will see a big part of the southern USA and learn the the North South East and West of the USA are really different.   The USA is really 50 different countries, locked together, but we all have our own unique identities.   We will be stopping in South Carolina, visiting the amazing city of Savannah Georgia, as well as the fun of Disney and Universal Studios.    All our trips are great fun, but you will come away from them with a great understanding and appreciation of the entire country. 

The chaperones on the trip are locked in.  Larry Jenkins is a City Councilman, past Rotary Assistant District Governor, and many time veteran of these trips.  He has also run RYLA, and been a host Dad as well as being a Councillor for an Exchange student.  Janine Hanigan is a newlywed (in September), a certified nutritionist, and another longtime trip veteran.  Jackie Favret has been the other Group leader of the trip since 2008 and has been on every trip since 2007. 

Fun fact:  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was partially designed and carefully monitored by J.K. Rowling (the books' author).  It is so real you will think that you are in Hogwarts. There are wizards and witches walking around and they are in character.   The chaperones MUST HAVE a glass of delicious Butter Beer (it's really good) as well as Pumpkin Juice when we first get there.   

October 22 - I just got back from being away for 10 days and I am try to get caught up with my work on the trips.

There is still space on the trip if you have friends who would like to go.  Please have them contact me.

Make sure you get familiar with the web site http://www.rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html
There is a lot of information on the site about the trip; where we are staying; what we are doing when; and what you need to do.  There is even a packing guide. 

If you live outside of Ohio, Ontario, Michigan, WV, and Kentucky and need to fly, get your reservations made and send me your flight schedule.   Usually only one of two people fly in for this trip, but we want to have someone at the airport to meet you.  If you are flying take the earliest flight on December 7 and the earliest return flight on December 15.   You are flying to Columbus OH (NOT ORLANDO). 

People who are driving (those living in Ohio, Ontario, Michigan, WV and KY) try to arrive before 6pm on December 7th.   Your rides have to pick you up in Columbus on December 14 around 6pm (1800 hours). 

Those of you in North Carolina, WV and Tennessee can actually meet the trip on the way.  We drive through Charleston WV,  Charlotte NC, and into Orangeburg, South Carolina.  Email me at bill.mcmurray@gmail.com if you want to meet the trip.

I heard that a few of you like Harry Potter.  We are going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and there is a chance we might see a few Harry Potter Movies on the way down.   We are bringing movies (not all Disney and Harry Potter) to kill time on the road.   Your chaperones are all huge Harry Potter Fans.   Jackie Favret is crazy about all things Disney. 

Make sure we are friends on Facebook (also Friend Jackie Favret).  You can follow me on Twitter  @billmcmurray

Oct. 6 - I will be out of the office for the next 9 days but I will be checking my email.  If you need an answer quickly (I'm going to be at Sea) email Jackie Favret - jackie.favret@gmail.com.  Anyone calling the office should leave a message and I'll answer with email.  Our voice-mail messages are sent to us by email. 

We are at 25 students and are filling up very quickly.  Tell your friends to email or fax me their applications as soon as possible. 

If you are having trouble getting your money to me, I will give you another 10 days to send it to me. 

Yes we are going to Disney World, but you might want to get excited about our other park, Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.   First year we went their the chaperones all went nuts trying to get awesome souvenirs.  Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are so realistic, including people dressed in Wizard's costumes and lots of amazing things going on.  Also three pretty good Roller Coasters.    All the chaperones are absolute Harry Potter freaks, having read the books several times and owning all the movies. 

October 1- Please get your friends to get their applications in for the Disney Trip.  We need their information as soon as possible.   We are getting lots of applications though.

Remember you need to get to Columbus Ohio for the Disney Trip.  If you live in other part of the USA, say Idaho or California you need to get an air ticket to Columbus.   The rest of you need to find rides to Columbus.   

If you live in North or South Carolina (or Eastern Tennessee you can meet us en-route.  We will be driving through Charlotte NC, and spending the night in Orangeburg, SC.  We can pick anyone up en-route and drop you off at the end of the trip.  

Weather is strange in Florida that time of the year.  One year it was really cold (like Artic Cold -9C) and other years it's been like 30C.   You have to pack accordingly.  You will need warm clothing, rain gear (it does rain in Florida), shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts.  One thing you will definitely need are good comfortable walking shoes because there is a lot of walking.

September 27, 2013 - Welcome to the Rotary Disney Adventure. It's not long before we will be enjoying the fun of this magical place.
There are a few things you need to know.
All information is sent by email, so check your email.
Make sure you befriend Jackie Favret and I on Facebook.
We will have a Disney Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rotary-Disney-Adventure/213670264837
All the Emails will be put on the Trip Webpage: http://rotarytrip.org/rotarytrip.html and http://rotarytrip.org/rotdisney1314.html
This trip leaves from Columbus Ohio so make sure you start working with friends in your district to carpool to the Best Western Plus Port Columbus Airport on December 7.  Directions are found on the trip webpage.
If you are flying to Columbus make sure you book the earliest flight you can so you have less of chance of delays or cancellations.
Make sure you get your payments in on time.
I urge you to email me and Jackie and talk to us, so we can get to know you before the trips.  We are really looking forward to meeting you.  These trips are as much fun for us as they are for you.
Also please follow me on Twitter if you are on Twitter.
I've been doing trips for 15 years.  The Disney Trip will be my 30th Rotary Exchange Trip.   Jackie has been doing trips since 2007 and this will be her 20th Rotary Trip.
Your chaperones on this trip are Jackie, Me, Larry Jenkins and Janine Hannigan.   All are veteran chaperones and huge supporters of Rotary Youth Exchange.
My daughter Liz was a RYE to Turkey in 2005-06.  She also studied at University in Turkey, Morocco and Argentina.
My contact information is.
Bill McMurray
6480 Dobson Sq. E.
Columbus OH 43229
614-899-1979 - Work
614-517-7702 - Cell Phone
bill.mcmurray@gmail.com
Twitter: @billmcmurray
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bill.mcmurray 

 

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