Field trip safety
Field trips are a fun way to get away from your school or camp and learn or play in a different environment. Of course, they can also be a source of anxiety for the staff members chaperoning the trip. You can decrease your staff’s concerns by providing a clear set of guidelines for field trips that minimize risk and protect all who are involved.
Here, Church Mutual offers tips for keeping your students or campers and staff safe, and covering all your bases in case the unthinkable happens:
- Always use permission forms. Even if you’re taking just a small trip off-site — such as a visit to town for kids at a summer camp — you should have a signed permission form for each child. In the case of a long-term summer camp, parents or guardians should sign paperwork that lists all possible situations and trips. Consider including waiver and authorization for emergency medical treatment provisions, in consultation with your organization’s legal advisor. Such permission forms protect you in case something happens to a child on a trip.
- Discuss rules ahead of time with your students or campers. You are much more likely to have an adverse event if field trip participants are not following the rules. Not only will their behavior reflect poorly on your school or camp, but they can also put themselves or others in danger if they are goofing off.
- Inspect your vehicle thoroughly prior to trips and use only qualified drivers. A pre-trip vehicle inspection should be performed to help you identify and fix any safety or maintenance issues. Church Mutual’s Driver’s Safety Checklist is available to assist you with this process. Conduct background checks and motor vehicle checks for drivers who will be providing transportation on the field trip.
- Don’t forget medications. While you may have a health room at your school or camp where students can seek care, field trips are a different story. Talk to your facility’s health provider ahead of time to find out which students need regular medications or emergency medications during the trip, and learn how to administer them properly.
- Be prepared to count. No matter the age of your participants, constantly counting is the best way to ensure you are not leaving anyone behind. Losing a student is one of the worst things that can happen on a field trip.
- Don’t skimp on chaperones. Some states have specific guidelines for the ratio of chaperones to students. If they don’t, a good rule of thumb is to have one chaperone for every 10-12 middle school or high school students. Younger children will probably need more chaperones. Additionally, if you have a mixed gender group of students, you should have at least one chaperone of each gender. If there are any special needs students in your group, they may need their own personal chaperone.