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Rostro de Cristo Retreat Group Reservation Policy and Form 2019-2020

THANK YOU for your interest in partnering with Rostro de Cristo to provide a mission-immersion retreat experience where young people can explore their faith and experience the Gospel of Jesus Christ together with the people of Ecuador. We look forward to making this a fruitful experience for your participants.

This document provides the information you need to reserve your dates and provides the basic agreement between Rostro de Cristo and our partners, including costs, group size, staffing, etc. While important logistical information regarding the retreat group experience is covered please note that Rostro de Cristo will continue to provide more information over the course of the next year that will support you in your preparation and orientation to our experience.

Please read this document in its entirety, even if you have been working with us for many years, as some updates have been made, and contact us with any questions or clarifications before signing the agreement.

Basic Information
Communication

The primary contact for group leaders is our Ecuador-based Retreat Program Coordinator who can be reached at retreats@rostrodecristo.org. For any questions, coordination and concerns the Retreat Program Coordinator can assist you. Of course, for any urgency or need you are welcomed to call our offices in Braintree, MA at 617-746-5891.

Group Size: 10-14 people

It is recommended that groups be between 10 and 14 people. Unfortunately, Rostro de Cristo cannot accommodate more than 14 TOTAL participants. 2 adult/staff leaders MUST be a part of every group. All participants must be in high school or older, and we strongly recommend that groups with high school students limit their groups to junior and seniors.

Cost

The program service fee for the 2019-2020 year is $750 per participant for groups with 10-14 members. In the event that a group has less than 10 participants, there is a flat group fee of $7500 (the same as the minimum group size of 10 participants).

The participant fee includes all housing, food, transportation and program expenses in Ecuador. In addition to covering the costs of providing a faith-filled, safe and meaningful program to our partners and their students, the program fees that Rostro de Cristo receives from our retreat groups helps us to advance our support of our program partners in Ecuador.

Commitment and Scheduling

Once your group has confirmed a reservation with us and provided a deposit, Rostro de Cristo will ensure that the dates and time for your group will be fully respected. Minor changes may be necessary to accommodate logistics in Ecuador. However, we will do our best to make sure that the reserved dates are honored. When groups are unable to fulfill their reservation it is very difficult for Rostro de Cristo to offer other groups the opportunity who may have been seeking to partner with Rostro de Cristo and were unable to do so due to the commitment we made to your group. Therefore, while we understand that circumstances and situations can change both for our partners and for our operations in Ecuador we ask you to enter into this reservation process fully committed to ensuring your institution and members will be able to recruit participants, finance or fundraise, and prepare a group. If you have any concerns and doubts about making this commitment please consider holding off until you are most certain of your institution’s ability to move forward with a group. Once you have a reservation, please let us know as early as possible if your group’s circumstances have changed and your ability to keep your commitment is in doubt. Likewise, in the event that Rostro de Cristo is unable to receive your group due to unforeseen conflicts we will communicate with your group contact as soon as possible and work with them to find an alternative retreat experience that reflects our program’s values and your group’s goals.

Group Selection & Scheduling: Our desire is to welcome as many groups as possible within our capacity to host groups. This capacity is determined by our ability to host groups in a way that is sustainable for our volunteers, our neighbors, and our ministry partners. Due to the higher demand in reservation requests in recent years, when requested dates conflict, we generally give priority to the group with the longer relationship with RdC and to groups who have exemplified strong preparation for their experience. A lottery system will be used if necessary to make final decisions.

This year’s retreat group hosting season will be from October 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020. To accommodate as many groups as possible, we encourage groups to consider a variety of dates within this timeframe and to provide three options of preferred trip dates on the reservation form. If a group would like to request a week that is not within our typical retreat group season, they must reach out to retreats@rostrodecristo.org with a special request. Groups will be contacted if any additional flexibility is needed beyond the dates requested.

Timeline: The number of groups and the schedule will be drafted once we have accepted and confirmed our volunteers for the 2019-2020 Program Year, which is typically by mid-April. At that time, we will send proposed reservation dates to the selected groups along with a deposit invoice. A waiting list will be created and maintained for groups we have not been able to schedule until we have received deposits from our selected groups. June 1, 2019 is the deadline for deposits. Selecting groups from the waiting list will be determined by requested dates and availability.

Participants

We require minimum 2 faculty/staff leaders in each group before, during, and after the retreat experience. These individuals need to be part of the preparation and follow-up process, even if a student leader is the primary group facilitator. Ideally, at least one of these leaders (or the student leader) should be comfortable with conversational Spanish. Leaders should be role models and be able to facilitate formal and informal reflections with students about their experiences in Ecuador. They are expected to demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviors. Leaders must comply with all RdC policies in country and work with our staff to ensure each member of their group does so as well. They should maintain strong and timely communication between their group participants and the RdC volunteers and staff.

Travel and Airfare

Airfare to and from Ecuador is not included in the participant fee. Cost can vary depending on the departure city, time of year, and other factors.

Travel Reservations
As a service, Rostro de Cristo can facilitate the reservation and purchase of group tickets to and from Guayaquil through our working relationship with the Groups Desk at American Airlines or with Educational Opportunities Tours. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this service for booking flights. Contracting these agencies provides flexibility when group participants change due to illness or other reasons or when weather interferes with travel. It also often allows groups to fly at the best possible group price. Only groups with 10 or more participants may purchase group tickets.

Please note group ticketing requires a signed a contract and provide a deposit on each ticket. Credit card payment is preferred (please make sure that the credit card used for purchasing has enough credit to cover the cost).

Arrival and Departure Schedule
All arrival times and dates must be approved by Rostro de Cristo. If you decide to book flights for your group through a different agency, you must contact Rostro de Cristo before making reservations in order to determine agreed upon arrival and departure times with our staff. RdC must approve flight scheduled before purchase and may ask that a reservation be changed if not done so due to conflicts with other commitments. All costs associated with changing airfares will be paid by the group. Both dates and times of flights are important logistical considerations to ensure that we avoid potential scheduling conflicts and that we are able to provide a warm welcome and heartfelt goodbye for our groups in Ecuador.

Passports/Visas

Per Ecuadorian travel policy, all participants must have:

  • Valid Passport: a passport with an expiration date no less than six months after the departure date from Ecuador. Any student with an expiration date less than six months will not be allowed to leave the United States. For example, if a group is departing from Ecuador on January 15, 2020, each participant’s passport must be valid until July 15, 2020.

Please note that these requirements are based on those traveling with a United States issued passport. Those traveling on passports issued by a different country should contact the Ecuadorian consulate for information related to visitors from their home country as soon as possible. Often there are additional requirements of which we may not be aware (i.e. background checks). Please consult the nearest Ecuadorian Consulate in the United States for further information as soon as you become aware of interest from non-US citizens in traveling to Ecuador. In addition, new policies and rules for travel may be implemented. Please remain attentive to all correspondence from Rostro de Cristo in regard to travel to Ecuador.

Food Allergies and Dietary Preferences

Generally we are able to accommodate a vegetarian diet (vegan diets can be more challenging), though we ask retreatants to be open-minded, knowing that we can’t make guarantees.

RdC can often accommodate common food allergies (i.e. peanut and gluten allergies). Almost all of the meals are prepared on RdC property, which can allow retreatants to avoid eating certain food products. Yet, we cannot guarantee that a participant will not be exposed to specific food items, since much of our time is spent entering neighbors’ homes and other spaces that are not in our full control. Early in the selection of participants we ask group leaders to identify any who have severe allergic reactions of any kind and communicate with RdC staff so that the risk can be assessed.

Other Health Concerns

There can be additional health issues and physical limitations among group participants that might affect an individual’s experience in country. When making determinations whether a participant’s health and physical abilities will not prevent her/him from fully participating in the immersion experience, please consider the following:

  • Participants should expect to walk often along roads which are often dirt, scattered with potholes and uneven. During the rainy season, these roads are often muddy and covered with puddles. In the dry season, the roads and air will be dusty.
  • It is often much warmer and humid than we are used to in the U.S., and our houses do not have air conditioning.

We want to be as prepared as possible to keep all participants safe, and it is possible that we are unable to accommodate some health concerns and physical limitations in Ecuador. Group leaders or contacts are responsible for communicating any health concerns to RdC staff at least 3 months prior to departure date. This could include allergies to medications, asthma, and other physical and health limitations, etc.

Reservation Process:

The following timeline will be used to ensure priority scheduling.

  • March 2019 – Communication from RdC to all groups to solicit interest in participating in the following academic year (August 2019 – July 2020).
  • April 1, 2019 – Deadline for groups to submit the completed Reservation Form. If you have any questions or issues in completing the online reservation form, contact RdC Retreat Program Coordinator at retreats@rostrodecristo.org or please call 617-746-5892. The submission of your completed documents will be confirmed by RdC staff.
  • By April 15, 2019 – Rostro de Cristo will send notification of the dates that have been selected for your group and an invoice for the deposit of $750. The calendar is determined by accommodating as many groups as possible. Groups will be contacted if any additional flexibility is needed beyond the dates requested. In the event of higher demands than we can accommodate, we will reach out to those groups who we cannot offer a slot with an invitation to our waiting list or to offer a reference to another suitable hosting program.
  • June 1, 2019 – A non-refundable, $750 deposit fee is required in order to secure the reservation. Please note that a waiting list will be established for those groups whose desired dates are in conflict with another groups. Failure to submit the required deposit may result in the loss of your group’s reservation.

Please note that RdC will continue to be in communication with you in the interim months. We will request information from you that will be essential for us to prepare well for your group’s arrival and for safe, meaningful stay with RdC in country. We ask that you respond to our requests for information and other documentation in a timely manner so that we can best serve you and your group members.