Making safe field trips by school students

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Outdoor trips for students have become a part and parcel of school education system as education today is not restricted to walled classrooms. Rather kids nowadays are sensitized to think beyond the school campus through experiential learning.

To experience the real life, real challenges are to be imbibed and to develop the team spirit among our students we need to organise study tours, adventure trips, exchange programmes and also the outdoor activities for the students to bring out some or the other learning outcome which we are targeting at.

Possible issues

Some usual issues related to outdoor school trips are listed as under:

  • Physical safety of the students at the camp site.
  • Emotional safety of the students during the camp.
  • Safety of the Adventure camp from any wild animals or the natural calamities.
  • Preparedness to any incident happening during the camp.
  • Trained staff members at the camp site.
  • Extensive medical and physical check up of the training staff.
  • Ensuring the drug and alcohol tests of the camp staff to ensure safety of the students.
  • Ensuring a teacher escort with a group of 10 students each.
  • Making the bus arrangement well in advance and no overloading in any bus.
  • Ensuring the flight or train tickets for long distance destinations well in advance.

Common concerns

There are certain common concerns we should keep in mind while on outdoor school trips.

  • Each child to be taken care of by the escort teachers.
  • School needs to know the complete medical history of each child.
  • School needs to know the optimum size of the group for the best and safest outdoor trip.
  • Before actually planning the trip, the school representative must visit the camp site if there are any health hazards or safety hazards and how to address them.
  • School needs to send a detailed circular to the parents in writing about the plan of the trip. It should talk of the climate of the destination and what clothes to be carried and how to stay or move in groups during the outdoor activity.
  • Food should be distributed at separate counters for vegetarians and non vegetarians.
  • There should be either a teacher who is ‘first aid’ trained or the school nurse should accompany the trip to combat any emergency.
  • All parents must submit the consent letter with the indemnity bonds before sending their kids in any outdoor trip.
  • Circular sent by school must include the groups and the group leader teacher with the contact number so that the parents can contact the concerned teacher to know of their children’s wellbeing.
  • Under no circumstances should a teacher transport a child in his/her personal vehicle. They must use the transport as per the local policy to transport the students to and from the field trip location.
  • If students are divided in groups then each group must be entrusted to a teacher and while moving by bus, each bus must have at least two teacher escorts to cater to any medical emergency.
  • Proper checklist of all the needs during that may occur during the outdoor trip.

Outdoor trips make the learning happen in a very natural manner and school kids gain confidence and become more independent through such activities. A child after the first outdoor trip shows a complete change in his/her behaviour pattern positively. A school needs to plan the timings when they come back from camp and when do they need to leave from their respective school and what would be the learning outcomes of such tours. Outdoor activities are more of learning by doing, and according to me, this is the best way of learning and that’s why most of the progressive schools have the outdoor trips in their annual calendars in spite of the risk element involved in taking the kids out.

What I read gets in my mind for some time, what I hear remains for a little longer by what I see and experience gets registered in my grey matter for a life time and it reflects from time to time the memories of the childhood, so I would want my students to create more and more memories to cherish and relinquish in later life of their and for this we as schools need to give them an extra edge by giving them this kind of exposure by travelling a little extra mile from our mundane school routine.

Trilok Singh Bist is a visionary educationist with 26 years of experience in teaching and school administration. Since 2001, he has been the Principal of Jodhamal Public School in Jammu. He has recently been awarded the prestigious International School Award (ISA) for a second tenure by the British Council for outstanding development of international learning in curriculum. In addition, he is the recipient of Meritorious Services Award by IAYP (International Award for Young People); Best Principal in J&K and Himachal Regions by SOF and British Council, for the fourth year in a row from 2012-2015.