Freedom or protection-- 15 yr old globetrotter.

My daughter’s school is sponsering a trip to Ghana this spring for two weeks at a cost of $2000. My daughter does not want to go-- she’s got a busy social life: soccer, a girlfriend’s huge sweet sixteen, the family vacation-- that she has no intention of missing, so this isn’t a real dilemma. But I was wondering. . …

I think it’s a great idea. A chance to visit another country with your peers and for only a couple of thousand dollars, what a wonderful way to broaden a teenager’s horizon. Yet I’m not sure I would have let her go.

Ghana?! For two weeks? Do you know how much trouble a 15 year old could get into thousands of miles away from home in two weeks? I’ve got a problem getting the girl in at curfew and she lives in my house!

Would you let your child go? Why or why not?

Hell my dad wanted me to goto France for a year when I was in 8th grade. I don’t see a big problem with it unless she is really prone to getting into trouble, at 16 she should be fine. Let her go, she’ll remember it for life.

If I could afford it, I’d let my kid go, but then, she is the Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup]! :smiley:

Seriously, I would let my daughter have such an opportunity if I was able and if she wanted. I know she’s responsible and obedient and not likely to create an international incident. Some of her classmates, however, I wouldn’t allow to go to the mall alone. For the record, when I was a senior in high school, I got to go to Paris and Rome for a week with the A Capella Choir. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I was able to go.

When I was eighteen, I went with my sixteen year old best friend (who had graduated from high school by that time) to Europe for a month with no supervision whatsoever. We didn’t even have hotel reservations or a plan of where we were going past the first couple nights.

It was great. We were too busy seeing the world to get in too much actual trouble.

School trips tend to be somewhat supervised, so you’d have some reassurance that your daughter wouldn’t get lost in the red light district or anything. I’d totally let my kid do it.

Here is a passage from the State Department’s Travel Warning web site, updated 07 Nov. 2002, :

“SAFETY AND SECURITY: Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times. Large gatherings, such as political rallies and street demonstrations, should be avoided. U.S. citizens should be aware that Ghanaian authorities sent troops to the Northern Region of Ghana in March 2002, imposed a curfew, and declared a state of emergency to quell ethnic violence. The situation is volatile, and American citizens are urged to avoid unnecessary travel to the Northern Region of Ghana while the state of emergency remains in effect.”

Another good place to look is Fielding’s “World’s Most Dangerous Places” by Robert Young Pelton. I’ve read that it is a reference that the CIA looks up to, for what that’s worth. Pelton & his co-authors make a point to go to the nastiest places in the world as tourist (and journalists in the case of some of the co-authors). They have a website, , but Ghana isn’t listed on it, so you should check the book.

Keep in mind that a fifteen year old probably isn’t as cognizant of danger as, and therefore not as careful as, professional journalists who make a living visiting war zones & such for a travel guide. To put it in perspective, when I was in high school, a teacher orgainzed a class trip to the Soviet Union. While no real incidents happened, the students did take the time to trade on the black market and get chased by the police. Do you really want to risk your kid getting mixed up in something like that in western Africa?

In all probability, the class trip will be safe and without incidence. But I wouldn’t take that risk with my fifteen year old (if I had one). I’d say either let her grow up and say, “Gee, I wish I’d gone to Ghana,” or raise some extra cash and send her to Wales.

I think Big Girl’s issue may be more with the “Ghana” part than the “going” part. IMO France, England, China, Japan, it would depend on the kid. Ghana, Indonesia, Afganastan, nope. I expect my kid returned in one piece. I feel I need to point out I know very little about Ghana. It may not be dangerous, and it maybe quite stable.


I hope I didn’t appear to be blasting Africans generally, or west Africans specifically. Research about safety should be done.

I know several people who have been to Ghana, and one who lived there, and it’s my impression that it’s not a particularly dangerous place. Certainly not on par with Afghanistan. Besides, it’s a school trip, for goodness’ sake – they’ll be supervised within an inch of their lives.

I’d certainly let my kid go (if I had a kid … granted, I don’t really know what it’s like to see these things from a parental perspective).

Exchange student programs are much better IMO.

After 18, it is up to them unless using your money.


I think it’s a great idea-- in theory. When faced with the prospect of sending my daughter half way around the world-- well, I have to admit I balked.

She really does not want to go and I should be trying to persuade her that she would be missing an opportunity of a lifetime-- but I’m not. And now that I’ve read that it isn’t the most stable place, I’m less inclined to.
I’m such a wimp.

For what it’s worth, I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica when I was 17 and England/Scotland/Ireland/Wales when I was 15. My parents could have afforded the latter, and I could’ve afforded the former with money I’d earned while working.

They vetoed both.

I’m still bitter.

My daughter traveled to Sweden by herself when she was 14 to live with some people I know for two weeks. (Parents work for my company and have two daughters about the same age)
She was a little scared about the trip, I gave her maps of each of the airports, and arranged for her to get to use the SAS frequent flier club at Newark.
She had a ball in Sweden, missed a connection on the way back in Denver, but made it home about 2 hours later.

When she was 15 she traveled to France, Spain and Italy as part of a People to People group. Gone for three weeks. Very highly supervised, and recieved school credit for the trip.
Again she had a ball.

I say it depends on

  1. The child
  2. Who is supervising

Boy, my girl know me better than I thought.

The school is offering 3 trips this spring break. Ghana, Italy and Puerto Rico. My daughter didn’t tell me all of this because she really doesn’t want to go and she figured I’d be uncomfortable with Ghana, but much less so with the other two.

I’d never make her go-- but, damn, Puerto Rico in spring!

Is this the quickest about-face ever in a IMHO thread?

We had some Ghanian neighbors when we lived in Geneva and they were some seriously friendly, warm people. I’d definitely consider it. The State Departement warnings seem to be geared to scare you out of doing anything.

I’m sure that there are places in Puerto Rico, Italy, and New York, for that matter, that are just as dangerous as Ghana can be. It’s generally a matter of knowing where you should and shouldn’t be. I’d want to feel confident in the people organizing the trip and then I’d consider any of those.

Another consideration: I’m sure they’ll need some chaperones (although the teachers may have all grabbed those spots).