"Tyler Madoff, 15, was on a Bold Earth Teen Adventure tour in Hawaii in July of 2012 when he was swept out to sea and never recovered. The tragedy was deemed a freak accident, but it was anything but. Tyler and his group were resting in the tide pools near the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii when a wave crashed on them, carrying him and another teen out to sea. The other boy was rescued; Tyler was never found.
The tour guides in charge of Tyler’s group were not only warned about the surf, but they were unprepared for any kind of emergency. The guides were not properly trained, nor did they have the proper safety equipment or a way to call for help. Bold Earth boasts professional guardianship of small groups and an American Camp Association accreditation, so how could something like this happen?
There is danger that can be associated with any kind of adventure travel, and parents are warned of these risk when booking these kind of trips for their children. Even if a company has accreditation or certification, there are some questions that we suggest asking before booking these trips that may prevent tragedies like Tyler Madoff’s from happening.
- Before booking a travel tour, ask what isn’t included in tuition. Is there travel insurance, or should you purchase that on your own?
- What kind of risk management policies are in place? How are emergencies communicated to the travelers, as well as guardians?
- What is the hiring process in regards to tour guides/counselors? Are background checks performed?
- What are the qualifications of the tour guides? When your child is out of your care, you want the best possible care, and it’s important to know how qualified their tour guides are. Have they been to this location (or one like it) before? Are they certified in CPR, Ocean Rescue, etc.? What is their level of experience?
- What is the ratio of tour guides/counselors to travelers? The lower the ratio, the better. If two tour guides will be managing a group of 20, it’s virtually impossible for them to have eyes on each person on an excursion.
- If any excursions will be outsourced, ask questions about the companies. What are their qualifications? Are they credible?