Field trip supervision and off-site events
If your field trip is organized well, it will be educational, safe, and fun! As the organizer of the field trip, you are responsible for planning and safety.
Field trips are a fantastic way to enrich learning experiences, foster social interactions, and provide a break from the routine classroom environment. As the organizer of the field trip, you are responsible for planning and safety. You may not be leading the activity, but it is your duty to supervise your participants. With that in mind, organizing a successful field trip requires careful planning, attention to detail, and coordination. Let’s walk you through the essential steps to organize a safe, enjoyable, and educational field trip that both participants and supervisors will enjoy.
Questions to consider
Consider each of the following questions and amend your plan accordingly. Also, discuss these questions with chaperones, risk manager, insurance agent, attorney, or any other relevant professionals.
- Have you met with the event host to discuss the field trip goals and objectives? Do they understand the levels and limitations of your participants in relation to their activities? Is it common for people with similar skill sets as your participants to engage in this activity?
- Will this activity require your participants to use unfamiliar equipment or tools?
- Have you given the participants a specific goal or task? (i.e., something to keep them engaged?)
- Will you rely on volunteers to help supervise or coordinate this activity in any way?
- Do all of the chaperones truly understand the activity, its location and surroundings, and the emergency protocols? (i.e., contact lists, basic first aid, etc.)
- Will you utilize the buddy system, have scheduled check-ins, and require supervisors to do head counts regularly?
- Were parents or guardians included in the activity planning? Have they been given an opportunity to offer feedback beyond a permission slip or waiver?
If you are transporting people, do you have a transportation policy and vehicles that are used regularly? Make certain the driver is familiar with the route and destination prior to the trip.
When hiring someone to transport on your behalf, make certain he or she is reputable. Make sure the driver understands and follows safety guidelines such as using their lights and stop sign when unloading passengers, taking extra caution when in school zones and playgrounds, and becoming familiar with their route to establish safe and efficient travels. As the field trip organizer, consider getting listed as an additional insured on his or her policy and obtain a certificate of insurance.
Set your participants up for success by informing them about bus safety prior to the field trip. Safety is the upmost priority and can be achieved through efficient training. Children especially need reminders about school bus safety as they can easily forget some critical information.
If participants are meeting you at the location, provide clear directions and meeting instructions. For those who may follow behind the bus, remind them to keep a safe following distance, and always stop for the bus when they have their lights on and stop sign present.
- Make sure there is a fully stocked first-aid kit available, and all chaperones or hosts are trained in basic first aid.
- Should any of your participants have specific medical needs, you must make certain they are accommodated. Plan ahead if any participants require daily medication.
- Plan to accommodate any participant’s special dietary needs.
- If any of your participants have physical limitations, the event site must accommodate them.
Specific event rules
- Clearly detail and post all rules and expectations to keep everyone involved well informed.
Pulling off a great field trip takes some structured planning and watchful eyes. By addressing questions, collaborating with professionals, and attending to logistical details, you will promote a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.