Over the weekend, Rustic Pathways was recognized as the Best Youth Tour Operator by the 2015 World Youth Student and Educational Conference. We are honored to receive this award, and we thank all of you that voted for us!
As we enter our 33rd season at Rustic Pathways, we’re more excited than ever. We are thrilled to welcome back over 1,600 Rustic Pathways Alumni. We also want to welcome more than 650 new students and families from 20 countries around the world to the Rustic Pathways family!
We can’t wait to share with you our love of travel, our passion for service, and our dedication to ensuring you and your family have a transformational experience with Rustic Pathways.
A lot has changed since we first started leading programs in Australia three decades ago. Over the past few years, we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes. We’ve implemented simple changes like electronic surveys and larger changes like launching the Rustic Pathways Alumni Association. Our focus has been on you, our client, and we’ve been taking your feedback seriously.
With the start of a new season, we want to update you on some of the exciting new projects and recent accomplishments here at Rustic Pathways:
New Programs for 2016
With new high school programs in Cuba, Peru, Australia, the United States, and other countries around the globe, our new and expanded program mix offers students a Rustic experience in more destinations than ever before. We’re also creating new gap year programs that focus on developing essential life skills in young adults through internships and immersive experiences. Stay tuned for more information later in the fall.
This year we will be conducting a comprehensive evaluation to determine the impact our programs have on our students. We want to more clearly understand what and how our students are learning on our programs so that we can make our programs as impactful as possible.
A Simplified Administrative Process
For those of you that have been with us for a few years, you know that we’ve never been able to accept credit card payments…until this year! We hope you have found our simplified enrollment form and payment process easier to work with. We’re continuing to invest in technological solutions that will make traveling with Rustic Pathways easier, and as always your Personal Travel Advisor is only a quick phone call or email away should you wish to speak with a real person.
Onsite Service and Safety Visits
We’ve also been taking a close look at all of our community service initiatives around the world. Over the past two years Ann Fuller, our Director of Global Community Partnerships, has visited 11 of the countries in which we operate to conduct extensive onsite visits with our community partners and to lead training sessions with our local staff members. This year, Ann is working with Sustainable Travel International to evaluate the impact we have in the communities where we travel. The results of this study will be used to continually improve the sustainability of our country operations.
In 2013 and 2014, our students completed a combined total of nearly 300,000 hours of community service work across the globe. Our 2015 Community Service Report will be coming out this fall and we’ll send you an update soon.
This past year our new Director of Safety and Risk Management, Dave Dennis, visited many of the largest countries in which we operate to conduct onsite visits and work with our on-the-ground staff and local vendors. Dave joins Rustic Pathways with 20 years of experience in adventure travel and a master’s degree in risk management.
We continue to partner with International SOS (an industry leader in providing emergency evacuation, medical, and travel services), and we’ve implemented a medical screening process for all of our students.
The Rustic Crew
Our team is a diverse group of educators, travelers, photographers, adventurers, and Rustic alumni — all driven by our mission, our vision, and our values. Over the years, we’ve learned that the most important ingredient to delivering an outstanding student experience is the quality of our program leaders.
This year we established a formal alumni association for our staff members called the Rustic Crew. The goal of the Rustic Crew is to keep our program leaders and staff members engaged with Rustic Pathways and allow us to provide our students with the best program leaders possible on each and every program.
We’ve spent the last year closely reviewing HR best practices to make sure we are the best employer in the industry. We want Rustic Pathways to be a company where people pursue lifelong careers.
These are just a few of the exciting updates from Rustic Pathways. Thank you for joining us this year, and let us know if there is anything we can do to make your experience better.
Vice President of Business Operations