The number of countries visited by each group varies by tour. Some tours highlight several unique regions of a single country while others will visit more than one. The invitation, planning, and confirmation process of our host communities is of the utmost importance for the Blue Lake International Exchange Program to offer an unparalleled experience for students. Therefore, detailed travel itineraries are not distributed until Spring of the touring year, after the International staff confirms all arrangements with the hosting communities. Blue Lake ensembles visit five to seven communities. Visit bluelake.org/international/pasttours to see where we have been on past tours.
Blue Lake International ensembles are hosted by various musical organizations, schools, churches, or town councils. Host families are identified by the hosting representative, who is often a key leader within these various organizations. Organization members, families, and personal friends of Blue Lake’s hosting committee serve as host families for our students. In most cases, students are paired with families who have children of similar age, gender, artistic endeavors, and interests. Typically, two Blue Lake students are housed together, but all students should look forward to the possibility of being the only Blue Laker in a host family. Students will have one host family per community.
Each group has a tour staff consisting of an artistic director, a health provider, and an appropriate ratio of male and female staff members. All staff members actively participate in the performance ensemble, as well as provide supervision during rehearsals, pre-tour preparations at camp, and group travel. The tour staff are selected from Blue Lake’s summer faculty and counseling staff and complete a full orientation on group travel logistics, safety concerns, behavioral expectations, and problem-solving. When the students are together as a group, these staff members provide supervision and care. When the students are with their host families, the families provide their care.
Blue Lake offers a limited number of scholarships for the International Exchange Program, often based on artistic merit and instrumentation needs. Additional discounts may be available for those who enroll early or pay their balance in full upon enrolling. Outside fundraising efforts by participants are highly encouraged.
The well-being and safety of our students is always the primary objective of a successful tour. For routine communication, the International office relies upon emails to families. When necessary, Blue Lake also uses a professional communication dispatch service (frequently used by municipalities, schools, and corporations) to send quick notifications to families via email, voice call, and text (for example, when a group’s return flight may be delayed). Each traveling group provides a daily contact with the Blue lake International office to communicate updates on group events, travel status, as well as any concerns. As “no news is good news,” the Blue Lake International office limits communication with families during travel time.
Student participants may travel with a personal cell phone, provided they use it according to the International Exchange Program’s written policy. Students are expected to exhibit outstanding maturity and manners at all times on tour. Therefore, students must limit phone use to times when it is not a distraction from host family activities, group travel, scheduled events, or other times designated by tour staff. More information on Blue Lake International’s behavioral expectations, including cell phone policy, will be provided upon enrollment.
The Blue Lake International Exchange Program offers a flexible attendance policy, which is outlined in the invitation and contract materials. However, most schools are willing to make special arrangements during end of year activities in order for full attendance at Blue Lake rehearsals. Most schools recognize the value of the International Program experience and permit students to have an alternate end of year schedule. Blue Lake recommends discussing arrangements with your school during the enrollment period.