Tips on Trips

Preparation for Trips

Trips can provide fun as well as a wealth of learning opportunities. The following suggestions can help directors prepare for a safe, fun and enriching trip experience:

• Always make a reservation for your group.

• Call the venue’s group sales department or education department to learn about special programs or activities that might be of interest to the campers during their visit.

- Guided Tours
- Hands-on Activities
- Self-guided Scavenger Hunts
- Films
- Themed Workshops

• See if counselors can obtain a complimentary pass to visit the facility before the trip to help them prepare.

• Know what their rules are.

• Know what their policy is for bus drop-off and pick-up so you can include it in your trip planning.

• Know how long the venue recommends for visits. Counselors might want to combine with a visit to a nearby attraction; ask for suggestions.

• Know the policy on bringing in food or water. What dining/snack facilities do they have?

• Camps should allot time for security checks. The fewer knapsacks and bags, the quicker the check-in.

• Obtain a map of the venue from the website and make copies for campers if possible.

• Counselors should visit the venue’s website to find out if they have previsit recommendations to prepare their campers. Many will provide informal lesson plans and suggestions that counselors can implement before, during and after the trip.

• Things to discuss with campers:

- The venue – what it is and what they’ll be doing.
- Activities and programs they will experience.
- The length of the visit.
- Conduct and behavioral expectations.
- Appropriate dress and things they should and should not bring.
- Travel, Safety and Buddy Systems.

Summer is a great time for campers to gain new experiences and learn new skills at camp. No grades — learning for fun and building self-confidence is what camp is all about. As camp directors and camp counselors, you can enrich your programs by adding exciting and educational trips to your schedule as well as new activities that help campers gain new skill sets.

You can provide unique experiences that your campers might otherwise never have the opportunity to explore: from nature walks, classical music concerts, and performances of Shakespeare to museum adventures and rafting trips. Fun-filled trips for camp groups provide unique educational opportunities. Some thoughts:

• Going to a place with new things to see, hear, and experience provides an excellent means of learning new vocabulary that has real life meaning. Studies have shown that children can learn new vocabulary words just by visiting a museum or having a new, enriching experience.

• Opinions, Opinions, Opinions. There is no right or wrong answer…just expressing one’s opinion about a painting, piece of sculpture or even an amusement park can be an invaluable experience for campers. What they enjoyed and why and what they didn’t like and why; they can express it verbally and/or in writing.

• Schedule activities that foster teambuilding and working together. Completing challenging activities together will build confidence.

• Attending a Broadway show, performance, or concert are not only entertaining but provide opportunities to learn about various cultures and reflect on historical events and interpersonal relationships.

• Interactive historic sites, history museums, and living history attractions make social studies come alive.

• Science museums, botanical gardens, outdoor environmental nature centers, planetariums, and even amusement parks add to your campers’ science knowledge with hands-on experiences.

• Many museums, fairs and festivals have specific cultural and ethnic themes which are an important part of learning about other cultures, which helps to foster tolerance and understanding.

• Explore career possibilities. Just think about all of the jobs that go into the production of a Broadway show, a museum exhibit, the creation of an amusement park, or the upkeep of a national park. Trips can be a great way to expose campers to careers that tap into their interests.

Trips can be followed up with fun projects and activities that enhance learning. Depending on the venue, your campers can perform their own play, write a historical journal, plant a garden, build a roller coaster, create a piece of artwork, or research more about the topics explored on their trip.

• Discuss their experiences - what they enjoyed, what they didn’t enjoy, and why.

• Incorporate suggested follow-up activities from the venue’s website.

• Where appropriate, write a Thank You note to the staff at the venue.

The key to enhancing any trip for a camper is the value of talking about it, expressing one’s opinions, listening to others’ points of view, and participating in a respectful discussion of the experience.

Relationship and communication is the key between venues and camps. Venues ask that camps please share problems that they have in planning their trips or that occurred during the trip.

Create a folder at the camp for each trip to help you in planning future trips. It should include the following for each venue:

- The contact person and contact information.
- The itinerary and cost.
- Any problems.
- Suggestions.
- Activities, lessons, printouts related to the venue.