Field trip safety is critical. Whether it is a three hour field trip to the zoo with five kindergÃ?Â¤rtners or a full day field trip to the a Six Flags amusement park with thirty five high school students, as the chaperon or youth director your main responsibility must always be the the safety and well being of your youthful charges. You can always explain to parents why their kids didn’t have a picture perfect day but when you return from a field trip there is simply no way to tell parents that on your watch their children were not kept safe. As crucial as safety is on any field trip to any destination in most cases you can provide for that safety by following these simple suggestions.
1. Know your children. Reliable knowledge of those young people entrusted to your care is the single best tool you can pack when leading a field trip. Whether information is solicited for you or you procure it on your own , you should refuse to leave the parking lot on any field trip without a concise listing of participants’ names, addresses and phone numbers where parents or guardians can be reached during the hours when you have responsibility for their children. ( For each child you should also have a signed permission slip allowing you to seek medical assistance for their child in the case when they can not be reached and medical attention is required). If your field trip will include a meal or a snack of any kind, and most do, you need a supplementary list of children who have food allergies and instructions for those who may be diabetic. Your student information should also give you a clear heads up about students with mental, physical or emotional special needs in your group. For example are there children who are hearing impaired, are dealing with ADD, or need to travel with precautionary medications? Are there children with other physical or emotional irregularities that could be triggered by immersion in a strange, new environment? Are there certain combinations of students who don’t work well together? The more you know about the young people in your group the easier it will be for you to feel confident that you can head off potential trouble and keep everyone on the field trip safe at all times.
2. Get Plenty of Help A second key to field trip safety is adequate supervision. Whether your field trip involves a swim in the lake, a self guided tour in a spacious museum or a hike in the woods, it will be impossible for you to have your eyes on every child at every moment. It will also be impossible for you to respond to every question and meet every need that arises. If you are left to care for the entire group all by yourself you will find it difficult to guarantee their safety. Instead, to keep your group safe it’s important to arrange for sufficient help. While parents are the most likely source from which to draw for adult help they may not be the only source. Depending on the age of children on the field trip you may benefit from adding a few reliable high school teenagers to your list of chaperons. Teens can provide extra speed, energy, endurance and flexibility and you may find that as parents begin to droop when the hours pass many teens are still able to give 100%. Teens also can volunteer to assist you with freedom from the built-in disciplinary problems that arise when parents try to monitor their own children .
There is no magic ratio of chaperons to children that will insure universal child safety on a field trip. Generally more chaperons are better than less and the younger the children the greater the need for close supervision. Beyond; those two standards you will want to select adults and teens who are reliable, sensible, prompt and attentive. Being able to rely on your volunteers for back up will take pressure off you and allow you to oversee the entire event rather than getting bogged down with individual concerns.
3. Use the Buddy System Regardless of the age of the young people on your field trip, the number of assistants you have brought along or the activity in which you all will be engaged , using the buddy system is a field trip safety must. Before leaving on any outing take time to arrange your children in pairs called buddies. Instruct children that they are to stay with their buddy throughout the day and that they are responsible for the safety and well being of each other. Getting kids to take the responsibility for the safety of someone else often encourages them to act more responsibly themselves. The buddy system cannot replace the use of mature chaperons, but the knowledge that children are not alone and that they are actively taking some responsibility for one another’s whereabouts and safety is well worth the minor effort needed to institute the buddy system.
4.Know Your Goal Keeping kids safe on a field trip definitely has a lot to do with understanding, organizing and providing adequate supervision for your group. But on even the simplest excursion, your destination and the unique activities kids will share at that destination may indicate the need for special preparation for both chaperons and children . Each field trip is different . Going to the beach requires a whole different set of safety advisories then going to an amusement park, the circus or rock climbing. Informing yourself first about a site and its specific challenges will allow you to give appropriate safety instructions to all participants. Knowing where you are going and what to expect when you get there will add to your feelings of competency and confidence. If this means going to the site in advance of your field trip for a quick walk through know that it is time well spent and will result in safety for your group and a comfort zone for you. Being able to sleep the night before a field trip because you have a real handle on what you are about to do can make the day more safe and more enjoyable for all involved.
5. Provide pivotal information No matter how well chaperoned your children may be or how well buddied up they appear to be, you and they will feel more secure on any field trip with just a few pieces of very valuable information. Make sure before children begin to enjoy their day that they know where the rest rooms and information kiosks can be found. These two locations will answer the majority of all questions children may need answered. It is equally important to let kids know where and when to meet for lunch, snack and departure . For young people who are old enough to read such information should be printed up and handed out to all in attendance. For younger groups it will be sufficient to give copies to volunteer chaperons.
If you are a parent someone eventually is going to ask you to help out by chaperoning on a field trip. Whether you are leading the entire trip or are an assistant, the knowledge and use of these very basic safety rules can help you to keep your group safe throughout the day. Kids have fun almost anywhere they go, with your help the fun they have can be experienced safely.