Perhaps one of the most challenging times in the
school year is the annual junior or senior class overseas or overnight
school trip. Not to mention the other trips and co-curricular events by
various school groups, these trips and events are often a nightmare for
principals and chaperones, although fun to the students, because of what
goes on during these supposedly fun excursions.
It is my opinion that it is
not the responsibility of the school to provide planned “fun” trips for any
grade or group of students. Every activity must have an educational purpose.
School is for the purpose of education and the formation of students to live
successfully in this modern world, and for Christian schools to help
students become citizens of the Kingdom of God. Follow as I unfold my
beliefs and principles.
Why do teachers,
principals, and often students think that taking a class trip just for the
purpose of traveling abroad and having fun is beneficial to the students?
It is because most of these school leaders do not truly understand the
purpose of education and what is needed to properly train students to
perform in the world. Secondly, many do not understand the gravity of the
responsibilities of supervising a large number of students and what goes on
in the students’ minds during these trips.
On a class trip, these high-energy students cause an
irruption of disorderly behavior that will change their lives forever. Many
times the chaperones are not even aware of the kinds of activities the
students participate in, especially those activities that go on when
everyone is asleep. The truth is that there is very little financial equity
involved in these school trips. One student can barely purchase his or her
ticket and may only have very little pocket change on the trip. Another
student may have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend for whatever he
or she wants.
This kind of behavior should not be allowed on a
school-sponsored trip. I know that many school leaders will argue that they
have never had problems with their students on a school trip. The truth is
most times the painful stories are never told. The principals and parents
will never know what really happened. They will never know of the emotional
and psychological damage they would have caused to our budding citizens.
"It is my
opinion that it is not the responsibility of the school to
provide planned “fun” trips for any grade or group of
students. Every activity must have an educational purpose.
School is for the purpose of education and the formation of
students to live successfully in this modern world, and for
Christian schools to help students become citizens of the
Kingdom of God."
It is my view that school class or special group
trips are of no value unless it is for the purpose of educating and training
students. The trip organizers and chaperones should put in place and follow
strict and practical guidelines.
1. All school day or overnight trips and
co-curricular events of any kind are to be a part of the school curriculum
and fit into the overall goals and philosophy of the school. Properly
planned school trips can be for the purpose of providing a wholistic
educational experience for the children.
2. The cost of all trips and co-curricular
events, including class parties, school fun days, casual or dress-up days
are should be communicated to parents at the beginning of each school year
so they can plan their schedule and budget.
3. No principal or teacher should introduce
new trips or any other co-curricular activities not included in the school
calendar at the beginning of the school year. This includes fun days, visits
to historical site, etc.
4. The cost of trips and days events should
not be prohibitive for parents. For example, charging students 50 cents,
$1, $5, or $10, for a fun day should be strongly discouraged, especially
when parents were not informed at the beginning of the school year.
5. Senior or junior class trips or banquets
should be a fixed date and activity in the calendar of events with cost
6. Destinations of senior or junior class
trips should be the same each year. This makes it easier and great for
planning. Students should not be allowed to come up with their creative
destinations and cost. All trips are to be school-originated and
HOW IT WORKS
Let me share with you a personal story how these
guidelines work. When our daughter was registering to enter Grade 9 at
Andrews Academy, Michigan, we received a handout entitled “Co-Curricular
Planning Guide for Out-of-School and/or Cost Related Activities.” It was
a list of all school trips, events, dates, and related costs. This list also
informed us those four years later there will be a senior class trip, where
it will be, and its cost. All senior classes went to the same destination
each year. The trips were well organized and structured with morning
devotions, lectures to meet the needs of student development, and of course,
There were a number of trips, banquets and other co-curricular
events planned each year and over the four-year period in high school. Some
of the trips and events were required for graduation. Others were on the
list to assist the students in accumulating a certain number of credits
required to complete the school year or to graduate. Each event on the list
was assigned points. The student was required to accumulate 21 points of
co-curricular activities to graduate.
With this arrangement, students
could select not to attend a certain co-curricular event. However, he or she
must accumulate enough points of co-curricular activities to obtain a high
school certificate. At the end of the handout were the following words: “We
as parents have planned the cost and number of school days affected by the
above selections and feel this is a reasonable program that can be handled
successfully by the student. . . We have noted that provisions of school’s
attendance policy and realize that excessive absences and tardiness make the
student ineligible to participate in over night school trips and hold
leadership offices and positions.” After making the selection of activities
both parent and student signed the document and turned it to complete
Let us make our schools a place of equal
opportunity, fun and active learning at all times.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family
therapist. Send your comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 242-327-1980 write P.O. Box
CB-11045 Nassau, The Bahamas or visit