I don’t do field trips. Yes, I know they’re an important (and fun) part of the child care experience, but I’m just not meant to do field trips.
Several years ago I planned a trip to a pumpkin patch. For $6 you took a hayride to a field where you could pick out your own pumpkin plus 2 ears of maize, 2 mini-pumpkins, and 2 gourds. I had parents lined up to help chaperone and drive, the permission slips were signed and the money was collected. The morning of the field trip it was sprinkling a little, and by the time we got to the field it was sleeting heavily. Two families decided to skip the field trip and bring their children to my house after we got home. The rest of us went anyway, but the weather was so bad it wasn’t much fun. Trying to pick up wet slippery pumpkins and gourds from a field of mud with cold-numbed fingers was quite the challenge.
In May I thought it would be fun to go to the zoo. Again, I had parents signed up to chaperone and drive, the money was collected early. After a week of sunny warm weather the morning of our field trip dawned dark and rainy. It sprinkled or rained the entire time we were at the zoo. The animals were hiding from the rain inside their shelters, peering at us crazy humans walking in the rain while they were dry in their homes. We spent more time looking at the photos and descriptions of the animals than the animals themselves. At the end of the path there was a large petting area where the children could pet chickens, goats, a baby tiger, and other animals. The children had fun even though the animals were wet, and I chose not to think about what “organic” matter was probably mixed in the mud we were sloshing through. We got a coupon for a free trip back, due to the weather but I didn’t risk it and we haven’t been back since.
The following fall I decided to try the pumpkin patch again – after all, what are the chances of being rained out 2 years in a row? Yeah well, whatever the chances were, it rained again. This time we were prepared with umbrellas and blankets, but it was still a cold, wet and miserable trip again. I decided at this point to swear off field trips forever.
Well, now it’s been several years and I started getting the field trip itch again. I’d taken my children to the local Children’s Museum and they had so much fun I thought I’d make it a field trip. I thought I was pretty smart, it was an indoor trip so the weather didn’t matter. Since I only have 1 child care child on Monday mornings I decided that Monday would be the perfect day to go, I wouldn’t have to get another chaperone and could easily fit her car seat in my van. Monday morning I packed my 2 yr old, 8 yr old and 11 yr old children in the car with the 4 yr old and took off for a morning of fun. How was I to know they’d scheduled a maintenance day and were closed! We must have looked pretty funny standing outside the doors staring at the CLOSED sign dumbfounded. Since the permission slip was specific to the Children’s Museum I didn’t have any choice but to take 4 very disappointed children home.
I consoled them with a plan to reschedule for the following Tuesday, when in addition to the 4 yr old I also have an 18 month old. I was a little concerned about adding the 18 mo old, to the group because I was afraid the children would want to go separate ways, and I didn’t have enough room in my van for 3 car seats and the other children. So I arranged for a parent to come along to help drive and chaperone. The night before the field trip I got a message saying the parent was ill and couldn’t come. Oh no, now what do I do?! I decided to go anyway and have my older children help with the younger ones. The morning of the trip dawned clear and sunny, the 18 mo old arrived first and everything seemed fine. Then I realized her dad had forgotten to leave her car seat, the fee, and the permission slip. So much for this field trip!
The new plan is to go back to my No Field Trip policy. We’ll take walks around the block instead.