The Life of a Destination Staff
While I was in University I went to Montreal with a company named S-Trip! They specialize in youth adventure travel and grad trips. My trip was a weekend at Mount Tremblant with 100 University students, partying in luxury chalets, hitting the slopes during the days, and relaxing in hot springs in the evenings. It was a memorable moment. I took it up a notch – I applied for a position with S-Trip! to become destination staff. I got that job. I spent 7 days in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This is My Life as Destination Staff.
I’ve always been involved in group activities and sports – from Baseball to Girl Guides to Choir. Why I loved these activities was in large part due to the people who ran them. They were kind to my obnoxious, loud ways and encouraged me to pursue everything I wanted – I was an overachiever to say the list (I received 90% of the badges in girl guides and the rest I couldn’t get due to location aka surfing). And once I went to University I’ve always enjoyed being a leader or being in charge. So I wanted to be that super cool leader like I had when I was younger. I wanted to leave an impression.
I’ve never been considered the child-friendly sort. I have actually been known to state “I hate kids”. Which for the most part is true. I don’t like kids and they don’t like me. But I wasn’t in charge of kids (And hope I never will be), these are 18 year old highschool graduates. They weren’t kids by any standards and they were certainly old enough to talk to like I would anybody my age. When I found out my group would be from my home town – I knew we’d get along; highschool memories flooded my brain. I knew what to expect.
But what was my actual job? What does destination staff mean? It means I help coordinate students and make sure everything runs smooth for them; they have questions/concerns, we have answers; they want the best party of their life, we help to make sure that runs smoothly; they want to lay on the beach all day drinking, we remind them to put on sunscreen so they don’t look like lobsters. The job is a great gig and one I adored.
I spent my mornings on the beach waiting for the students to drag their butts out of bed and enjoy the day. When they did wake up they regal me with stories of the previous nights events. The afternoons I spent partaking in the days activities from giant blow-up rock climbing walls to a Mr & Mrs Grad Trip Competition. And in the evenings I danced at swanky clubs with funky themes. Yes this is work – really.
But like any job there are downsides – no its not all beaches and giggles (but most of it IS). There is no drinking for destination staff which is fine and dandy for a non-drinker such as myself – and makes sense – I’m working – not partying, but this means that all of the drinking that IS going on, needs to be monitored and all results of drinking are dealt with while I am sober. Puking is gross to see while drunk, never mind when I am sober. And you work late late late into the night (3 or 4am most nights) with no option of a caffeine fix past 10pm. And the absolute WORST part of the job? Having to wear a cotton t-shirt that doesn’t breath in 45 degree Dominican Republic weather. Horrible working conditions eh? 45 weather on the beach….
But these late nights once I welcomed my second wind turned out to be mostly entertaining – I liked nothing more then telling all the party-goers it was PIZZA-TIME at the rooftop bar. Watching their eyes light up make for entertaining moments. And after pizza time the party-goers turned into zombies and it was a slow procession to their beds. In the am it would all start again – beach, volleyball, pool, zip-lining, jungle, party.
And with about 800 students on destination in Punta Cana means there are bound to students you bond with. Some students constantly came and spoke with me – told me their stories daily. Playing favourites isn’t really what I consider it – but these students made my day more entertaining (Ok they might me slightly favoured!). And hopefully I made their day better by listening and laughing (honestly laughing) at their stories with them.
I had the Niprock students who were a small group but with personality. I know all their names, but their descriptions are better: Ginger, Green Hat, Wanderer, Sloth, Polka Dot. These students made my week amazing – and I was WORKING. I surely hope, that just as I was growing up, and all of those people who made my life great, that I could work hard and be good at my job to make these students Grad Trip a success.