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Senior trips gain popularity with local teenagers as graduation gift

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Posted: Friday, June 23, 2006 10:00 pm

Graduating from high school is a milestone that should be celebrated somehow. But with a $2,000 Hawaii vacation?

Yep, thanks to mom and dad, and all that cash enclosed in those congratulatory cards.

Take for example, Lodi High graduate Elizabeth Dils. To take a seven-day trip to Waikiki, she had to help her mom cut costs. She borrowed a friend's prom dress and went without separate graduation and birthday gifts (she turned 18 within two days of graduating).

After raising the funds, Dils joined seven other girls and eight guys from Lodi High on package trip, which included hotel rooms, airfare and a shuttle ride to and from the airport, and cost $1,025 per person (not including spending money, meals and activities). Dils said she knew of several other groups of Lodi and Tokay graduates in Waikiki.

Area travel agents say Waikiki continues to be the No. 1 senior trip destination, though cruises, with siblings, parents and even grandparents, are gaining popularity.

"It just depends on how close they are to mommy and daddy," said Joan Simpson, a travel agent for about 30 years with Lodi's B and J Travel.

With graduation gift money burning a hole in their pockets, the no-parental-supervision vacationers rented mopeds, shopped, went to a luau and club-hopped on the "Pub Crawl" bus (on which IDs were checked and alcohol rules were strictly enforced). Some of the girls caught a male revue at the 17-and-older club, The Cellar.

"I'm a party girl so it was fun. I'm very social," said Dils. She loved the fact that Waikiki's buzz of shops, tourists and street performers didn't stop, even after 11 p.m. - very much unlike Lodi.

While she was in Hawaii, Jenyn Aebi didn't go clubbing, but she did sneak into a lifeguard tower with some friends - a la TV's "The O.C." Her parents paid for the trip and the activities, while she spent graduation money for clothes and jewelry for herself and gifts for family at the open-air International Market Place and Ala Moana Center, the world's largest outdoor mall.

Aebi and several friends also visited the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

"The last day there, there (were) a lot of things we could have done. But we decided to make sure and see that," Aebi said. "It was something that I really wanted to do."

Kathy Beckman has been a travel consultant with Stockton's Segale Travel for about 30 years. In the past 10 years, senior trips have gained in popularity, she said. This year she booked trips for about 100 teens, most in groups of 10 to 20 - all without parents.

"A senior trip used to be Disneyland or a trip to Santa Cruz. It's evolved into something much more extravagant," Beckman said.

Beckman, however, won't book trips to Mexico for teens without an adult chaperone. The health and safety risks aren't worth it, she said.

Simpson, the Lodi travel agent, says Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan in Mexico are favorites because of their Americanized resort culture. Waikiki, though more expensive, remains a top choice because of its activities and teen-friendly atmosphere, she said.

Stephanie Diehl, a Lodi High graduate, and her mom Nancy take a trip every summer and said this year's trip was special because it was her last before going off to college. They relaxed during a five-day Mexican cruise - going zip-lining, horseback riding and snorkeling. Then they acted like "big little kids" at Disneyland and California Adventure Park. It all cost her parents about $4,000.

In a few weeks she'll be cherishing a "real" senior trip: Camping in Santa Cruz - but she'll be paying for it herself.

Contact reporter Kendyce Manguchei at kendycem@lodinews.com.

First published: Saturday, June 24, 2006

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  • posted at 9:09 pm on Tue, Jul 4, 2006.


    Obviously, someone here enjoys impersonating me and others here on this blog. I guess we should be flattered. Too bad the impersonator is a bit dim. I'd like my impersonator to be at least as brilliant as I.

  • posted at 5:22 pm on Wed, Jun 28, 2006.


    Obviously the rotten apple doesn't fall far from the tree! LOL! Guess I hit a nerve. Why so ANGRY? You must know you are wrong for sending the little guy to Hawaii and you can't help feeling so guilty that you have to attack me! Great values there, "cont".

  • posted at 3:20 am on Mon, Jun 26, 2006.


    Wow: That's the point. Some/most of these families are NOT "rich" and they still send the teen to Hawaii with a 2K price tag.

  • posted at 8:46 am on Sun, Jun 25, 2006.


    Overindulged, lazy kids getting extravagant gifts from mommy and daddy for graduating high school with no babies in tow. Great...They are raising a bunch of veil calves. Soft, squishy, lazy little people that have no back bone to stand on their own. They're pretty though!

  • posted at 5:58 am on Sun, Jun 25, 2006.


    Damn, the girls on the picture are fine a$$ looking!

  • posted at 1:53 pm on Sat, Jun 24, 2006.


    (con't) That is why there are so many young people sitting at home when they should be working or they want the BEST job out there even if they aren't qualified yet. They expect too much too soon. The work ethic is dying in America.

  • posted at 3:46 am on Sat, Jun 24, 2006.


    I could be wrong on Megan, but that sure looks like her.



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