For Participants:

  • What if I have food allergies or special meal requirements?
    • Food allergies and food requirements will need to be discussed on an individual basis. We’ll do the best we can to accommodate, however it must be kept in mind that Colombia is a developing nation and certain accommodations simply may not be reasonably possible.
  • Will we be exposed to harmful plants, viruses, diseases etc?
    • As with any travel in the global south, these are always a possibility. Proper vaccination, hygienic behaviour, and common-sense will help to minimize the chances of contracting diseases or exposing participants to foreign pathogens. Guidelines for safe travel will be covered during the pre-trip events.
  • Are travel vaccinations required before departure?
    • The Canadian Government Travel website advises a variety of vaccines, but specific decisions should be made in consultation with your health care provider or a travel clinic at least 6 weeks prior to traveling.
  • Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
    • You can, however we will also include travel insurance in the cost of the trip.
  • What if we miss a flight?
    • Arrangements will be made with the airline at that time to accommodate the group on the following flight. If there is a case where a sub-group of our travelers are unable to get on a flight, adults will be present with both groups.
  • What happens if luggage gets lost?
    • Usually the worst that can happen is that some luggage is delayed by a day or two. If this happens, participants can make arrangements to share extra clothes, etc. as necessary.
  • What documents do I need to travel?
    • Canadian Passport (valid for 6 months following the trip), notarized letter of permission for minors traveling across borders (signed by both parents / guardians), notarized letter of guardianship (assigning responsibility for minors to TCOW leadership during the trip), and a waiver of indemnity. All forms will be available from WaterlooTCOW.ca and will also be provided at pre-trip events.
  • What if my passport gets stolen?
    • Several copies of all important documents will be kept with the TCOW leadership in Colombia and with the Registrar (or a designated person) in Canada while the group is in-country (these will be destroyed after the trip to ensure privacy).


For Parents:

  • What if my son / daughter gets hurt while on the trip?
    • At least one of our leaders will have a valid first aid certificate, and we will know locations for local hospitals and/or physicians through our hosts in Colombia.
  • How can I contact my child while they are on their trip?
    • The TCOW registrar will be able to contact the group leadership during the trip and pass messages as needed (generally for emergencies only). Additionally there will be a blog posted at WaterlooTCOW.ca as regularly as possible while the group is in the country.
  • How many adults are on the trip?
    • Three – a mix of male and female leaders. Our hosts in Colombia will also provide some leadership.
  • Will the participants ever be on their own?
    • Participants will usually have an adult present, whether hosts or the TCOW leadership. If an opportunity arises for the youth to explore without an adult they will be in a group with a minimum of four people.
  • Why Colombia?
    • Many reasons. In short, TCOW has traditionally gone to different countries in Central America year-after-year and Colombia presents a fascinating look into a modern peace process in action.
  • How safe is Colombia?
    • About the same as most Central American/South American Countries. The Colombian Methodist Church, our hosts will ensure that the group stays in safer areas of the country and will have local knowledge to guide our safety. The group leadership will also continue to monitor the Canadian Foreign Affairs website for Colombia to keep up-to-date on happenings in the country.
  • What are some of the benefits of a trip like this for my son/daughter?
    • Participants will come out of the TCOW program with a greater appreciation for social justice issues not just in Central America, but in Canada and around the world. Another goal is that those who travel with TCOW will gain a deeper connection with God and an understanding of God’s work in the world through a variety of people. As the TCOW mission statement says, “Our mission is to change lives and produce globally aware students to help shape a more just and sustainable future.”
  •  How should tax receipts be handled?
    • Local churches will be responsible for any tax receipts as a result of fundraising. Remember that the CRA does not allow receipts to be issued for donations which are directed toward a person who is a direct relative. More information can be found at the CRA’s website.

For Everyone:

  • If we put down a deposit (i.e $400), and then fundraise the rest of the cost for the trip, can we continue to fundraise and get the $400 reimbursed?
    • This is possible, however there will be a cut-off date for reimbursements to be requested (likely the date that the last payment is due) so that we can keep the work for our presbytery treasurer to a minimum.
  • Is there an approximate breakdown of the cost?
    • Yes, there will be once we have finalized the costs (~August 2016). Total will be in the $2000-$3000 range.
  • When are the pre-trip events?
    • Expect monthly events from September 2016-June 2017. Exact dates and times will be announced in the summer of 2016.