WEST HALIFAX CHEER
Goes to Tampa Bay, FLORIDA!
VERSION DATE: OCTOBER 2016
Dear parents and athletes,
We at WHC are so excited to announce that WHC’s 4 Junior Teams will be travelling to Tampa Bay, Florida!!
Firstly, we want to be clear of the expectations of the competition. We are going purely for experience, and to see what cheer is like in not only another province, but another country. We have no expectations of winning. If it happened, that would be FABULOUS; but it is neither our intention nor our expectation. We are going purely for the experience of the competition, the atmosphere, and to have an absolute blast while doing it. Placements mean nothing, and we’ll take the judges feedback with pride. We want to be PROUD of our teams, of what they have accomplished, and to show the Americans that cheer isn’t just their sport; it’s ours too.
This information package will contain all the information we currently have regarding our trip. Things may change between now and the departure date. However, we want to be clear on a few points. The first is that we are very aware that this trip is an expensive investment for families, and therefore felt it was not our place to mandate that people HAVE to participate in any or all specific activities, other than the competition itself and the banquet. You may choose not to fly with us or choose not to stay with us for the entire duration (although we are making it a requirement for the “cheer” portion of the trip). However, we encourage you to be involved outside of the required times if at all possible, as it keeps the teams together and encourages the bonding experience. I do ask that if your plans are different than the group, that you provide us with contact information so we can reach you for any schedule changes. Based on the demographics of the attendees, we built the itinerary and plans based around a large group of families travelling together, or pairs of moms & daughters who will be rooming together, rather than 60 kids and a few chaperones.
Should you have any questions about the content of this information package, please let us know and we will do our best to answer all your questions.
Thanks!! Can’t wait for April!
Erica, Jana, Ashley
The planning of this trip takes up considerable amounts of time from our volunteer planning committee. Extensive research was completed to identify many various options, which were then presented back to the group for final decisions. We considered many things, including costs, activities, and team exercises to make the most of this trip. We also recognized the demographic of our group – in that 95% of athletes travelling with us were going with their families or a parent; and not as an unaccompanied minor. Therefore, we felt that this trip would be best planned as a blend of both team and family orientated events. We do recognize that some children are travelling with other families, and we’ve considered that as well.
This Trip Itinerary Package outlines the details for all aspects of the trip as we are aware of them at this time.
The official WHC portion of the trip is Friday, April 7 to Sunday April 9, 2016. We are strongly encouraging everyone to arrive in Orlando no later than Thursday, April 6. It is our intention that Friday – Sunday will be team oriented. The majority of people will land in Orlando on either Wednesday or Thursday, all athletes must participate in team events on Friday night, all day Saturday and participate in a team oriented extra-curricular activity on Sunday, and after that – families are on their own for their amusement. Families are also responsible for their own children, except in the cases where they are travelling as an unaccompanied minor (you can identify such at the end of this information package) and WHC will assist in providing a chaperone to monitor your children for the duration of the trip. We felt that it was not the place of WHC to require that families participate in team-specific events outside of the competition, other than a few organized activities.
WHC will be booking a block of rooms at a specific hotel. We are requiring that all athlete stay at this hotel on the Friday night (April 7) – the night before the competition. We are strongly encouraging all athletes to stay at this hotel from Friday – Monday, so they can fully participate in the team events.
WHC will manage the collection of fees to pay for team-specific activities including the competition entrance fees, the team banquet, the bus transportation to and from the hotel/Tampa Bay, and the participation of our Sunday group activity/Banquet.
The management of the costs for the hotel and flight will be the responsibility of the family – except in the case of the unaccompanied minor, in which case we can provide assistance to manage these bookings/payments.
This information package outlines the details for all aspects of the trip as we are aware of them at this time. Please realize that as we get closer to the date, things change, prices may fluctuate, but we felt this was a good time to communicate what we have amassed thus far.
According to the information we’ve collected, there are very few athletes travelling without a direct parent responsible for them (unaccompanied minor). Therefore, we felt it would not be a good investment to provide chaperones for all the athletes, especially since their immediate families were available. However, for the athletes who are under 18 and are travelling unaccompanied, we are able to provide a chaperone for them. If you are travelling with the team (and are staying at the Team Hotel), and are available/interested in assuming responsibility for another athlete, please let us know, so we can provide a surrogate parent(s) for our unaccompanied minors. The hotel we have chosen provides an excellent opportunity for families to assume responsibility for additional children without taking up a lot of extra space (see the hotel section of this document for more information). WHC can assist in providing some compensation for assuming this additional responsibility. Please identify to WHC if you or your child is planning to attend the Florida trip as an unaccompanied minor.
In order to attend and compete in this competition, your balance with WHC must be paid in full. This is regardless of whether you’re booking your own flight and hotel. In order to be permitted to compete in the competition, your WHC account balance must be paid in full.
If you have been fundraising, then the amounts fundraised just go on as payments/credit on your account. Once your cheer fees are paid off, then the credits/fundraising can be applied to the invoices created for the trip. See the costing section for the approximate costs.
WHC recognizes that a “one size fits all” flight option may not be the best option. Many are travelling using frequent flyer points, and/or may choose to book on their own with different dates and/or times.
WHC has been working with a variety of travel agents to provide a group booking; however it has proven to be difficult in finding a group rate that is better than the rates currently available online through various airlines.
We will provide an email with the group booking reference when we are able to negotiate an acceptable rate.
WHC is not requiring athletes/travellers to book with the group rate. If you choose to book your flight on your own, we encourage you to do so.
We will book a small block of seats as a group. Once we get this information at an acceptable group rate, we will provide the booking reference number, you will book and reserve your flight on your own, using your own credit card. If you are travelling unaccompanied (either as a minor or age of majority athlete), and require WHC to assist in the booking process, we can do that, please let us know. Once your flight is booked, the team coordinators (WHC Staff) will require a copy of your confirmation that your seat is booked. This is how we can be assured that everyone has gone through the proper booking procedure, and won’t get left back in Halifax J
In order to make this trip a blend of team events as well as free-family time, we are only collecting and managing the payments for the team activities. The following payments and bookings will be done through individual parents/families:
- WHC Hotel- currently working on pricing and options for our WHC hotel. Once we have the location solidified, booking information will be sent to you. In the past, we have booked condo-style resorts that allow people to cut costs by sharing rooms. In 2016, the rates we paid were $139USD per night for a 2-bedroom suite (plus 12.5% tax). We are planning to keep the cost within the range of $139 – $169 for a 2-bedroom suite. We are also considering hotels that offer more than just a 2-bedroom option (1, 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms are preferred – we will provide this information when it’s confirmed). Several bedroom condos allows people the option to share a room, thus staying in a “fancier” hotel for a lower cost by sharing.
- Flight booking/payments;
- In 2016, the WHC Group flight was approximately $460 per person, round trip (i.e. you are not required to book with the group booking; but it is an option should you choose to take it). Many others were able to get seat sales, use air miles, or get other discounts if they chose to book on their own, but many still preferred to just travel with the group instead.
- Other expenses to consider:
- Amusement parks;
- Transportation & parking costs (if you choose to rent a car, or if you choose to take part in the optional busses WHC will book from the airport to the hotel & back);
- Competition admission fees for spectators;
- Baggage fees.
WHC is managing the mandatory fee collection of $350.00 per athlete (Canadian funds), which will cover the following:
- Bus transportation to and from the WHC hotel to Tampa Bay and back for the athlete;
- WHC Team Day and Banquet (Sunday);
- Bus transportation to and from the practice venue on Friday night, as well as the gym rental costs for this activity;
- Competition entrance fees (first team only; does not include crossover fees);
- Administrative costs;
- Insurance for international competition (required by Cheer Nova Scotia);
- WHC trip Swag.
We will provide a-la-carte sign-up sheet for parents, siblings and other non-athletes who would also like to take part in the banquet, bus transportation to & from Tampa Bay, etc. Note that the mandatory athlete fee is higher than last year. This is mainly because the competition entrance fee is $100 USD for the competition we are planning to go to, and it was less for last year’s competition, and we are also expecting the banquet to cost more this year than last year. Based on WHC’s actual costs last year, we have had to increase this cost to manage our expenses.
Anyone travelling to the USA, including infants, requires a valid Canadian Passport. You may also require additional documentation, depending on your circumstance.
Please go to www.passport.gc.ca for details, however, here are some main points:
- ALL travellers flying to the USA require a valid Canadian passport (even infants).
- Persons under 18 are considered children and may require:
- Canadian Passport
- Consent Letter (when travelling with one of two parents, or travelling alone)
- Supporting documentation (such as a birth certificate or citizenship card)
- Other Legal Documents such as: divorce papers, custody court orders, or a death certificate (if one parent is deceased).
Please go to http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/travelling-with-children for details on the above documentation.
Please remember that consent letters are required if both parents of the child are not going. This is important even if you and your spouse are married and the children are yours, unless both of you are going together, consent letters are strongly encouraged. Please see the link above for recommended documentation when travelling with minors.
REMEMBER that it is up to YOU to make sure that YOU have all the necessary travel documentation that YOU are required to bring.
WHC recommends that all travellers get medical travel insurance, in case of sickness or accident while travelling abroad. We are not offering group travel insurance at this time, however, if you are interested in pursuing group travel insurance, please let us know and we can provide assistance.
WHC Athletes and coaches are covered for the cost of international insurance while competing. The cost for this is included in the mandatory athlete fee, and is a requirement of Cheer Nova Scotia. This covers injuries sustained during the competition, and does not cover travel incidentals such as missed flights or cancellation insurance.
We are looking at several options for our hotel. We are looking for one that has the following amenities:
- Option to book multi-bedroom condos;
- Has a kitchen to allow people to buy food at the grocery stores;
- Laundry facilities;
- Several pools;
- Close to major shopping areas/amusements;
- Has options to book transportation to the major theme park areas
The hotel that we choose will be our official Team Hotel/Resort in Orlando. As you are NOT required to book your flight using our group package, you are also NOT required to stay here outside of Friday night, however, this location is where the bus will take us to and from for the competition, and it’s also where we are having our WHC Florida Trip Banquet on the Sunday night. All athletes must stay at this hotel with the team on Friday night whether with their families or sharing with another athlete. We are strongly encouraging all WHC guests to stay at a minimum of the Friday and Saturday night, so that they can fully take part in the team events. In previous years, most of us stayed at the team hotel for the entire duration of the trip, which is the recommended location, as the athletes can fully take advantage of the team trip.
We chose this type of resort for several reasons:
- Since the demographics of our attendees are mostly 4-or-more-person families (or parent & athlete pairs who were sharing), this would be more spacious than a smaller hotel room for not much less money per family;
- The 2-bedroom suites can fit up to 6-8 people comfortably, which works well for the unaccompanied minors bunking up with their friends/families, and for the families who are sharing;
- The hotel also has shuttles and free transportation to the major theme parks in the area;
- It is VERY close to outlet shopping!
The demographic that this may not be the best hotel choice for is those who are travelling as a pair (for example, a mother and daughter), and who do not wish to share their room. Based on the information we’ve collected, this was one of the smallest demographics, as most people were travelling with larger parties, and it has worked extremely well in past trips. The room may be expensive and large for just two people. If this is your situation, you can either choose to share your room with another mother/daughter pair, which then makes the cost of the room more economical while still having lots of space and being with the teams, or you can choose to stay on your own and pay the full amount, or you can choose to stay at another more economically priced hotel nearby (but we are asking you stay here for Friday night only). If you choose to stay off-site, please provide us with your contact information.
American Cheer Power Tournament of Champions
Competition is Saturday, April 8, 2017
WHC will be chartering at least one bus to transport all the WHC athletes and coaches from the hotel to the competition venue on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Parents and siblings can also opt to take the bus, and we will be sure to charter enough busses to accommodate everyone. When we went to Daytona, it worked well in that all the athletes were on one bus with the coaches, and the parents/siblings were on the other. Several chose to take a car, which is also perfectly acceptable, however, all athletes are REQUIRED to go TO the competition on the bus. This way, we can be certain that all the athletes are together and organized when we arrive at the venue.
Competition Name: American Cheer Power Tournament of Champions
Host: American Cheer Power
Location: USF Sun Dome (http://www.sundomearena.com/)
Please note that it is MANDATORY for the athletes to take the bus with the team to Tampa.
They are not required to take the bus back to Orlando (can travel with parents if preferred).
- All athletes will be given identification (bracelets, shoe tags, or something similar) that must be worn at all times in order to warm up and/or compete.
- Spectator Fees (CASH ONLY) for the Competition is $20 per person (CASH ONLY) and children 5 and younger are free. Military discount and senior discount available.
- Parking may be extra cost.
As this trip is a blend of group activities (the competition specifically) and free family time to explore the parks, we wanted ensure we had a fun day as part of our team events. This will take place on Sunday, April 9, 2017.
WHC is planning to have a fun-filled time with the athletes throughout the day on the grounds at the hotel with planned activities (afternoon). This is a reserved day for team bonding. In the past, we’ve gone to theme parks, however for this trip we decided we would stay at our resort so we can organize group activities right on-site. In addition, many theme parks are quite large and the athletes may not actually get to see each other. This option also keeps the overall cost down, as we would not be asking you to spend money on a theme park which you may not particularly wish to go to, as well as reducing the cost for us to provide transportation to and from a theme park, as we would not all fit on the complementary shuttles.
We are working on the details for this day, but to-date, the following is planned (high level):
- 2-3 pm Afternoon of relaxation, activities, games, team bonding;
- 5 pm – 7:30 pm Team Dinner at the hotel (assuming the hotel can accommodate this – we are working on options)
- 8:30 pm Nighttime Pool Party and dance at the hotel
During the time between the scheduled group activities (competition, team banquet, and WHC Fun day), families are free to explore Florida. For the unaccompanied minors, they must be under supervision of their chaperones before embarking on any activities. In this section, we’ve provided some information for people to pick and choose which of the Orlando attractions they would like to participate in. There are many different options for day or week passes to many different theme parks.
In the coming weeks, we will provide people with some resources for various theme parks, navigating International Drive, and some various restaurants, etc.
Wednesday, April 5 or Thursday, April 6, 2017: Arrive in Orlando
WHC will be booking a GROUP FLIGHT that (depending on the more favourable costs) will be either Wednesday, April 5 – Wednesday, April 12 or
Thursday, April 6 – Thursday, April 13.
Once the Group Flight booking is confirmed, we will provide you all with the option to call the travel agency and book your flights on this GROUP flight. However, please remember that you are not required to use this service. You may choose to book your own flights at dates that work for your family, so long as you are in Orlando by Friday mid-day, and stay for the competition on Saturday and the Team Event on Sunday.
Friday, April 7, 2017: Practice day in Orlando
WHC will be looking into either renting the TOP GUN gym in Orlando for a practice, or meeting up with another Cheer Club for a group practice (either at the Top Gun facility or at their own gym). The logistics for this have not been worked out. In either case, WHC will be renting a bus that will take all the athletes and coaches from our WHC hotel to and from the practice space. We have had great success in doing this in the past, and can’t wait to do it again!
Saturday, April 8, 2017: Competition Day in Tampa Bay!
EARLY time (TBD): Bus takes us from the WHC Host Hotel to Tampa Bay (approx. 1.5-2 hour drive)
Note: It is mandatory that all athletes travel on this bus TO TAMPA BAY
LATE time (TBD): Bus takes us from Tampa Bay back to the WHC Host Hotel
Please note that we will not receive a Tampa Bay American Cheer Power competition schedule until a week prior to the competition.
Sunday, April 9, 2017: Team Event Day
We will be planning some team activities (most likely on the actual hotel grounds) in the afternoon on this day, and then will be having a Team Banquet (again, we’re hoping to have this on the actual hotel grounds) for all the parents, and athletes. Please see the trip cost section for details regarding this event. We’ve had wonderful success in the team banquets when we’ve done these types of trips in the past, so we really stress the importance of this event!
Monday, April 10 – your departure day: Free Days! Have Fun!
Wednesday, April 12 or Thursday, April 13, 2017: Time to head home L
Depending on the WHC Group flight bookings, the group flight will leave on either Wednesday, April 12 or Thursday, April 13.
******DO NOT FORGET YOUR UNIFORM!!! PACK IT IN YOUR CARRY-ON!!*****
Before you go:
- Be sure to check the weight and size restrictions for the airline on which you are traveling! Be aware of potential extra costs for oversized, overweight, and extra or first bags.
- Spread your belongings out among all the suitcases for your travelling party. In the event that a piece of luggage is lost, everyone only loses a few things instead of one person losing everything.
- Take a photo or a photocopy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport (or leave it with someone at home). If you lose your passport, you can use the photo or photocopy to report your passport number to have it reported.
- Keep a wallet-sized card with important phone numbers and contact information on it in case you need to reference it quickly.
- If you are planning to use your cellphone while in the USA, you should contact your provider to add an American plan to your package for the month to avoid very high bills when you return to Canada.
- Debit is not used in the USA nearly as frequently as it is in Canada. Be prepared to use cash or credit card or travellers checks. If you are carrying cash, keep it on your PERSON at all times.
- Notify your credit card company that you are leaving the country, so they don’t freeze your card assuming it was stolen.
Helpful info: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/air
- Put a luggage tag on all your items, carry on and/or checked baggage.
- Don’t forget to bring:
- UNIFORM, SNEAKERS, and BOW (and socks, make-up, and any other accessories) – IN YOUR CARRY-ON!
- WHC Trip swag (tank top, other WHC gear)
- Bathing suits
- At least one hat
- A camera/cell phone
- Comfortable clothes and shoes for walking around theme parks
- Something dressy for our banquet
- Money, credit cards, travellers checks, etc.
- Don’t over pack. Remember that the hotel has a washer and dryer right in your room, so you can always do laundry instead of bringing too much stuff. Don’t forget you might also buy some new clothes there too! Save some room in your luggage for taking items home with you.
- Don’t forget your TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION. It is very important that you have all the necessary paperwork if you are travelling without both of your parents. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s up to you to make sure you have all the travel documentation required.
- You can lock your suitcase, but be aware that they may search it (even your checked bag) and may just cut the lock off.
- Don’t forget to NOT pack any sharp objects such as nail files, clippers, scissors, pocket knives, etc. They will likely be confiscated.
- You cannot bring blunt objects such as hockey sticks, golf clubs, or something that can cause injury (clearly).
- Other things you can’t bring on planes: weapons, gasses, dry ice, Tasers, guns, lighters, matches. So you know, leave your Taser at home 😉
- You can bring electronics on the plane, but there are often restrictions on when you can use them. Abide by the rules of the aircraft.
- For liquids, gels, and aerosols: Pack these in a clear plastic bag. You can have them in bottles no bigger than 100 ml, and the total volume cannot exceed 1L.
- Medication: Make sure your medication is clearly labelled.
- Pack a bathing suit in your carry on, in case your luggage gets lost. You can still swim when you get to the hotel!
- Bring things to entertain yourself on the flight such as books, magazines, music. Be aware that electronic devices are not permitted during certain times in flight.
- Keep in mind that you may not be able to check into the hotel prior to 4 pm, and your flight might arrive much earlier. Pack your bathing suit in your carry on, or have it easily accessible, so you can go swimming while waiting for your room to be ready.
- If your ears are sensitive (i.e. they hurt if you fly), bring gum to help them pop!
- Bring earphones in case there is an in-flight TV. They charge for them on the plane, but most standard ear buds or earphones will work.
- Don’t forget that you can’t take water/liquids through security, but after you get through, you can purchase water. This is recommended as it can get dry on the plane. They will give you a drink on the plane, but only you know how much you would normally consume. Plan accordingly.
Day of travel:
- Arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure time.
- Dress comfortably but remember that you’re travelling with a group representing your cheer group and your province and your country. Yoga pants are better than pajama pants!
- Don’t wear clothing with metal. You have to go through security, no metal makes it easier.
- Don’t forget you will have to remove your shoes when going through customs, so easy-on-easy-offs are best.
- Make sure your phone and electronic devices are fully charged and pack a charger in your carry-on in case there are delays, you can charge your device at the airport.
- Expect to wait in line. For a long time. And often.
- Have your passport and e-ticket ready at check in. If you need to have other documentation (custodial papers, etc), have them ready as well.
- Have your liquids, gels, and aerosols that are in your carry-on handy in a clear plastic bag to put through the security check. See the section above for liquids and gels in a carry-on bag.
- You will have to take laptop computers out of their case.
- You are not permitted to bring nail clippers, scissors, lighters, and many other forbidden items on board the airplane.
- If you are carrying-on medication, it should be in its original bottles and be ready to show customs if necessary.
While in the USA:
- Cell Phone Usage: Be wary of the roaming charges. A helpful tip is to ask your cell phone provider to put an “American Plan” on your phone for the month we’re away, that way; it might minimize your roaming charges. Every provider and plan is different; please check with your specific provider.
- Check the FaceBook group (using Wi-Fi) often if you can. Wi-Fi is available at the hotel, and many other “hot spots” like the parks and the malls. We will be posting information throughout the trip, and we encourage it as a way to share your experiences with the group. It will also help us know where everyone is going each day!
- If WHC is paying for your room, long distance charges and incidentals will be billed back to you.
- Save all your receipts. You are limited as to how much worth of goods you can bring back to Canada, and will be asked to identify the amounts on the customs declaration card on your way home. The limit is $800 per person (Canadian) for trips 7 days long or more.
DON’T FORGET TO BRING THESE:
This code of conduct is an agreement that you understand the rules of the trip with WHC, and agree to abide by them. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the athlete or parent being suspended from all WHC activities for duration deemed appropriate by your WHC Board of Directors. We expect all athletes and parents to behave in a manner that represents WHC, Nova Scotia, and Canada in a positive, supportive, kind, polite, and respectful way.
Be respectful to all staff and employees you encounter at the airport, hotel, bus drivers, theme parks, competition venue, malls, restaurants, and EVERYWHERE else:
- Abide by all airport rules, including baggage allowance; carry on allowances, line-up protocols, etc. Make sure you know what’s allowed and what’s not allowed before you go.
- Be respectful to others while travelling. Some people have an easier time with travelling than others. Be patient, especially if someone is having a difficult time, or is travelling with young children or elderly.
- Be respectful to the bus drivers.
- Be respectful to the hotel staff. Be aware that the rooms may not be ready by the time we get to the hotel (check in time is 4 pm, and many will be arriving long before that).
- Be respectful to the hotel maids and cleaning staff.
- The competition hosts are our friends. Be courteous, polite, and show them how awesome Canadians really are!
- Abide by hotel rules. No running near the pool, no food in restricted areas, no swimming after posted hours, etc.
- There will be a LOT of teams at the competition. Be respectful, cheer on everyone, and meet as many people as you can!
- No negativity or disrespect of any other teams. You never know who can hear you (athletes AND parents), and if you say something negative and someone overhears you, you’ve now skewed their opinion of our team, our province, and our country in their eyes.
- Wear your WHC travel team tank top to warm up on Friday night.
- Wear your uniform for awards.
- No jewelry or nail polish. They will check. We will check. Don’t do it.
- Do not do anything that is illegal. For example, the legal drinking age is 21 in Florida. It doesn’t matter that it is 19 in Nova Scotia – you are required to abide by the rules of the city where you are. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drink alcohol. If you are over 21 – you need to drink responsibly. If you are under 21 and you choose to engage in drinking or any other illegal activity, your parents will be notified and you could face WHC disciplinary actions, as well as legal issues in Florida. USE COMMON SENSE PEOPLE!
- The important thing to remember that anything you do reflects us as an organization and you as a person. Any questionable behaviour can be subject to disciplinary action.