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Odyssey of the Mind -- Homestay Program

The Homestay Program was established to provide both International and US teams an opportunity to experience other cultures. The international teams stay in American homes and with American families providing great new experiences for both groups. Generally homestays are arranged to follow Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. This is an extremely rewarding experience for the host families as well as for the team members and coaches.

Host Families Needed
All Odyssey Teams Can Participate
Host families do not have to be going to World Finals themselves. If your team does not go to World Finals you can still have a great experience hosting a foreign team. Most teams will be 5 to 7 team members plus 2 adults. It is best if at least 2 team members stay together. Each host family will have from 2 to 4 guests.
What is Expected of a Host family?   [ TOP ]

The Homestay host provides lodging, meals, and some activities such as picnics, ball games, museums, sightseeing and shopping. However, hosts are not expected to pay for special activities such as trips to theme parks. Of course, transportation is essential.

What Will Be the Cost to Host an International Team? [ TOP ]

It will cost time. It will mean having 2 to 4 visitors staying in your home. You will need cars and drivers. If you are not able to host a team you might volunteer to drive, help take a group to a park, museum or mall.

Some Ideas That Have Worked in the Past. [ TOP ]

If you are in or near major international airline hub, and your Odyssey teams are using chartered buses to travel to World Finals, plan ahead with your guest International team for them to fly in and out of your city and travel to and from WF together with your teams on their bus. You will need to work out the cost sharing and logistics, but it can be fun. It may mean you need to house and feed the visiting team for a night before leaving for WF.

What Should Visiting Teams Expect? [ TOP ]

Visiting teams and coaches are expected to join in and experience American life with their host families. The real aim of this program is to promote good international relationships by giving the international team members the opportunity to experience family life in the U.S. and for participants to form new friendships by hanging out and doing normal everyday activities together.

What Will Be the Cost for Visiting Teams? [ TOP ]

Visiting teams should expect to pay for transportation to and from the town or city of the hosting family unless other arrangements have been made. The visiting team members should have sufficient personal money to cover meals while traveling or when out sight seeing etc. It is expected that the host family will provide meals when at home or at hosted events like picnics. Visitors should have some money for whatever shopping they want to do

How Long Should Homestays Last? [ TOP ]

Generally 3 to 7 days. Figure on homestays lasting through the weekend following the team's arrival. It is sometimes required from the airlines that travelers stay overnight on Saturday in order to receive discounted tickets. Also, everyone in the host family wants to get in on the fun and usually one or more of the hosts has to work during the week. The weekend is the time everyone can participate in some special activity. All details of the length of stay are negotiated and agreed upon by both groups before completing the plans of the stay.

Transportation [ TOP ]

Host families or organizations should make arrangements to pick up the arriving International teams from whatever transportation brings them to your area, and plan on providing transportation for the guest teams on their departure. This is an activity in which the local Odyssey of the Mind organizations can really help by providing extra cars and volunteers. It is wise to have volunteers inside the airport or train or bus station to greet, gather, and guide arriving and departing teams. It is not simple to get 3 or 4 teams of International kids with limited English through a big city airport.

Volunteers Needed [ TOP ]

Volunteers with cars will be a great help. A basic rule of homestays is that "you can sleep and feed more people than you can move." It is nice to have a willing volunteer who will take some of the coaches or parents in the party shopping for a day. These adults might love to get away with other adults for a few hours, knowing their kids are safe and having fun.

Making Plans [ TOP ]

If your International team is planning to come to WF, register for a homestay and make homestay arrangements before committing to travel reservations, otherwise the travel costs within the US may be prohibitive.


Contact Chris Eaton, spud8@mindspring.com if you are interested in participating in the Homestay Program.

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