Recommendations for Chaperones
The following are some important suggestions of what teachers, chaperones, and group leaders should do or not do when leading a trip. Many of these recommendations are simply common sense, while others are not, but are based on years of first hand experience of what works and doesn't work with kids while chaperoning trips of these kinds.
1. You must have a sense of humor and be 'laid back.'
2. Don't take 'laid back' in a literal sense. These trips are hard work
3. What might shock you in a 3rd World culture, is in most cases considered completely normal by that culture. Take an anthropological approach to your '3rd World' experience, and 'go with the flow.' You and the students will enjoy themselves much more if you do. After all, cultures in this part of the world have flourished and functioned well for many centuries.
4. The faster you 'become native,' and the more about the country you learn, the more enriching and fun will be your experience.
5. Safety of course is paramount. Chaperones should be observant and aware of what is going on in their surroundings. Remind students about this and safety issues often.
6. When instructions or information is being disseminated, ensure that the students are quiet and paying attention. Chaperones should remind students of any information that has been articulated, and should follow up with support where necessary, preferably without having to be reminded to do so
7. No sitting on ledges or other dangerous areas. No running and 'horsing around.' Virtually all accidents occur, because someone wasn't paying attention to instructions, was fooling around, or wasn't attentive to their surroundings, which are very different than what one is used to at home.
8. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep stressing this with the students. The cognitive maps most of us have for functioning in our easy western lifestyle, do not work when outdoors, trekking, kayaking, riding elephants, walking around and sleeping in village settings in a 'strange land.' The simplest things such as walking, can be hazardous if you and students don't adjust those 'cognitive maps' to the realities of being in a new and different environment.
9. Wear shoes or sandals when outside
10. When in markets or crowded places, groups should be 4 or more at least. Stick with chaperones wherever possible. Rendezvous at pre-designated spots at certain times during your market or similar experience
11. Believe it or not, parents calling chaperones can be a 'safety hazard.' If a parent is calling you day and night, to see how 'Johnny' is doing, you can end up being a lot more tired, which can affect your ability to function properly. Similarly if 'Johnny' is talking on the phone to mom, when important information is being disseminated to students and teachers, this can and does affect safety.
12. Model the behavior that you wish students to exhibit
13. The whole group of students and teachers are a part of a team and should act together to help and support each other in every aspect of the trip during the whole week
Cell Phones / Calling / Phone & Email Trees
14. Cell phones with students are not recommended. one major goal of these trips is to teach them, self-reliance and independence. Something which is hard to do, when they have ready access day or night to mom and dad. This also alters student behavior in a negative way.
15. Cell phones will be carried by chaperones and staff. We are always able to contact parents or visa versa should that be necessary. A parent serving as a conduit in a phone or email tree should be contacted periodically for trip updates
16. Do not call a parent every time a student gets cut or falls down. In most cases these incidents are very minor. Calling in these circumstances, needlessly alarms parents and serves no practical purpose. Do not act on impulse. First assess any incident in a logical and objective way. Then make a determination of what should or should not be done based on the realities on the ground. In the vast majority of cases, things are not a 'big deal' at all.
17. First Aid kits with recommended supplies should be supplied by the school and carried by specified teachers or chaperones. Kits are also carried in country
18. The teacher or teachers responsible for the First Aid kit should know how to use it, or be in-serviced in its use by the school nurse before the trip
19. Don't baby the kids. They will respond to this and soon the focus of the trip becomes, their ailments or social trauma, real or imagined, rather than the experience of the trip itself.
20. Medical release forms signed by parents, giving chaperones permission to have medical treatment administered to a student if the need arises, should be kept in a file by chaperones
21. Sometimes it is necessary to give students a mild motion sickness tablet. These are over the counter, and about half the strength of other over the counter, standard 1st Aid dramanine-type medications that you can buy anywhere. Make sure that parents understand this. When on the trip, if one student is not allowed to take a motion sickness tablet and they need it, this can stop the whole group from getting to a destination on time or stop the trip completely.
22. Specific student medical information such as allergies must be carried by a teacher
23. Any specific medications for students should be carried by students
24. Keep count of your group of students in particular and the whole group in general. This pertains to all activities, restaurants, villages, airports, trains, vans etc
25. When the group is traveling in vans, students and teachers in a particular van should stay with the van for the day. Otherwise it gets very confusing and time is wasted trying to keep track of where people are
26. Each student should be a part of a 'Tribe' or 'Team'
27. Each student should have a 'bus,' or 'van' etc... partner so they can keep tabs on each other.
Airports / Travel Venues
28. When in airports, keep students off to a side and out of the way of other passengers.
29. Line bags up in 2 rows in front of a check-in counter with students off to the side. Remove all old baggage tags from bags.
30. one or two chaperones check the group in and follow the instructions of the airline agent
31. Hand out and collect passports and boarding passes when necessary. Don't let students carry these items around for any extended period of time
32. No 'illegal items' should be carried through security. Get all metal etc off your person, so that you don't have a traffic jamb at the metal detectors
33. When going through immigration and customs, always have a teacher in the lead and one at the back of the group.
34. Bags should be soft and carry on size. No refrigerators! 99% of travelers carry twice as much as they need on a trip. If students or teachers can't 'travel light,' they're on the wrong trip. Please stress this with both parents and students. Everyone will carry their own bags, so the smaller the better
35. You can buy and carry as much shopping goodies as you want during the trip. It's easy to buy a cheap bag to carry these things home at the end of the week
36. Bags should have 'Tribe' color ribbons on them for organizational purposes. Helps a lot
37. Bags should have name and address labels with phone numbers etc located on both the outside and inside of the bag.
MP3s / Electronics
38. Some schools do not permit students to bring electronics such as MP3 players. Other schools will allow them on a very limited basis to be used on long van rides for example
Losses or Breakage
39. If students, lose or break property in lodges or vehicles etc they will be charged to replace this
40. Students and chaperones are responsible for taking care of their own personal property such as cameras, money, electronics, passports and tickets ( kept by chaperones). The last person leaving a room, should lock it and keep the room key, or turn it in to reception. Do not leave personal belongings laying around. The best way to carry money and valuables is in a money belt, or pouch, rather than in a pocket or daypack
41. Water is a precious commodity even in a rainforest. Water will be provided at meals and for treks. All other water must be purchased by individuals. If you are drinking water from a bottle, use all of it before getting another one. If we see half full bottles of water laying around, from that point on, water will be purchased by students.
42. Bottled water should be used for brushing teeth
43. Individuals are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. This applies to after meals, and any litter no matter whose it is, in vans, trains, living areas, restaurants or out in nature. The Earth is our only home and we need to take care of it
44. Community Service is an important component of these trips. Students will actively participate with local children and community members in simple community service projects while in country. Any fund raising for a service project should be initiated and implemented by students with teacher support and leadership, preferably before the trip. However some groups have done this after the trip as well.
45. Journaling is a very important student ( and teacher) activity that should be done often during the course of the trip. A student's journal should be an invaluable personal record of a unique experience. Journals can contain, writing, poetry, art work, photographs, mementos, and activities created and led by teachers. Teachers should allow time for students to journal, and should give students prompts and themes to focus on during these sessions. Simply telling students to 'go write in journals doesn't work.
46. Talking Circles are wonderful team builders and a method to talk about highlights of the day, or any other topic that individual students or teachers wish to communicate. This system of 'Talking Circles' has been used by native peoples around the world for thousands of years. A Talking Circle can be comprised of a few individuals or a very large group. Students and teachers sit in a circle and pass a 'natural object' such as a stone, feather, or piece of wood, around the circle. If a person wants to talk, they can only do so when they are holding the object. No other people in the circle can talk or respond to what has been said by other individuals within the circle until they are holding the 'Talking Stone,' for example.