The pressure of paperwork, preparation and responsibility when organising trips seems to be too much for some teachers. However, they are denying themselves one of the most rewarding experiences open to them and they needn’t be so afraid.
I don’t have time!
Teaching is not an easy job. It is not your normal 9 to 5 and as for those long holidays? Believe me, they are needed. The best teachers do not restrict their work to the classroom only. They provide youngsters with a range of extra-curricular opportunities that enrich and inspire students in equal measure.
Anything but camping
Now you may think that camping with a bunch of under 18s sounds rather nightmarish. But as someone who has run many school music trips to campsites, I can tell you it is a great idea. Camping is a common pastime with good reason. You may find that your students balk at the very idea of camping (“Miss, what about my hair straighteners?”) but helping them through any worries they have and encouraging them to take part is vitally important.
One thing I have found extremely beneficial when planning a camping trip is organising a trial run. This normally involves pitching tents on the school grounds and so allowing students to do something unfamiliar in a familiar place. With school music trips this also involves some pretty intense instrument carrying practise especially for the tuba players! Of course, this may not have the excitement and challenges of the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors or the drama of the Lake District but it is a great way to assess students’ worries and concerns.
What about sharing a bathroom?
This is a common fear. There is little point lying to your students with tales of luxurious baths and private showers but don’t frighten them either. If you think it will become a major issue, perhaps choose a campsite that shares facilities with a hostel or hotel as these can sometimes have better bathrooms.
What about the food?
Students can of course bring some home comforts in the way of snacks, as long as they don’t overload themselves! Aside from that, assure them that almost everything can be cooked over open coals. Just wrap it in tin foil and away you go!
What if I’m too uncomfortable to sleep?
One good idea is to gather leaves or moss and create a foundation prior to pitching the tent. In addition to this, encourage your students to spend a few nights in their sleeping bag at home in order to get used to it. They might feel a bit silly about it, but it is the best way to get them accustomed to the constraints involved.
Preparation is king
Choosing the right campsite is vital. You might opt for somewhere relatively enclosed, such as a National Park, as these are often fully staffed. Alternatively, organising your trip through an experienced company can work well.
Camping is good value for money and good fun. Students have the opportunity to work together, build their confidence and friendships and above all, overcome their fears.
Shannen is a secondary school teacher. She writes regularly on the subject of pupil enrichment and has organised numerous school music trips for students across all age ranges.