Are you managing your field trips effectively?
Even though field trips offer a way to offer a well-rounded experience and enrich the lives of those you serve, leaders often shy away from venturing out into the “real world” because of the potential risks these trips may pose. Don't be deterred -- with a few extra precautions, safeguards, and additional attentiveness you can help make your field trip a safe one.
To help better prepare for a safer field trip, here are some things you may consider:
Select a destination that builds on the interests of those you serve. Find out:
- If it matches everyone’s developmental level
- If it accommodates everyone’s needs (places to sit, bathrooms, etc.)
- If there are any admission requirements
If possible, visit the location ahead of time to find out:
- Are there any hazards or dangers you need to be aware of and plan for?
- Where are the restrooms, running water, and other needed facilities, etc.?
Be certain to get written consent for each participant.
- Send out consent forms well in advance to parents/guardians.
- Include sufficient details about where you are going, why, when, address, what to wear, food provisions, any cost(s), and estimated time of departure and return.
- Be certain to get permission for emergency care if needed along with any medical needs and contact information on the day of the field trip.
- Ask parents/guardians to also provide medical concerns along with consent to treat (with appropriate medication) if needed.
- Assure that you have adequate staffing and supervision for the field trip based on governing regulations, the nature of the field trip, and needs of your participants
- Coordinate transportation that will accommodate your group
- If using volunteers, stress that they are assisting the staff who are in charge. Volunteers should be screened and their duties and expectations should be clearly defined and communicated.
- Clearly spell out the field trip expectations to all involved so that everyone understands what is and what is not allowed and the consequences for not following rules.
- Develop emergency plans for potential situations that may arise.
- Assemble a first aid/safety kit with items you may need on your trip
- Be prepared for potential medical emergencies.
- Have an accurate list of participants who signed in on the day of the trip.
- Do head counts often throughout the day to account for everyone.
- If anyone is missing – act immediately.
- Have an easy visual way (colored t-shirts, name badges, etc.) to identify your group at a glance.
- Have participants pair up using the “buddy system”. Assign pairs of buddies to chaperones. No one wanders off alone. Do head counts – often!
- Be certain everyone know what to do if they are separated from the group.
When you consider all the things that could possibly go wrong on a field trip, you may be wondering whether they’re worth it. They are. Field trips can enrich your organization’s offerings, enhance learning, and energize participants. And with careful planning, adequate staffing, and good communication, your field trip can be safe and successful from beginning to end.
The information provided is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.
Click here to read the unabridged version of Guidelines for Safer Field Trips.
- L. Cullen and L. Whitaker, “Making the Most of Field Trips.” Time 163:26 (2004)
- Lynn Cohen, “How to Run First-Rate Field Trips.” Instructor-Intermediate 107:6 (March 1988)
- [PDF] Car Seat Recommendations for Children - nhtsa.gov
- S. Martin and R. Seevers, “A Field Trip Planning Guide for Early Childhood Classes.” Preventing School Failure 47:4 (2003)
- Eugene D. Gennaro, “The Effectiveness of Using Previsit Instructional Materials on Learning for a Museum Field Trip Experience.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching (May 1981)
- “Instructional Materials on Learning for a Museum Field Trip Experience” Journal of Research in Science Teaching (May 1981)
- W. J. Krepel and C. R.Duvall, “Field trips: A guide for planning and conducting educational experiences.” Washington, D.C.: National Education Association
- K. Moser, “Ten Tips for a Successful Field Trip” Teaching K–8