Somehow, you have ended up volunteering as a parent helper on a school trip. It’s a noble endeavour, giving up your time to chaperone 30 snotty children. Now the day has arrived. Your own child is either excited that you are coming along, or severely mortified at the prospect, but what can you expect? Here’s ten things that will probably happen on the day.
1. Group Assignment
At the start of the day, you will be assigned a group of children that will become your responsibility. You will need to make sure you know where each of these children are at all times throughout the day. Your ability to do this is somewhat hampered by the fact that three of the girls in your group look exactly the same as the other girls in the class and half them run at breakneck speed whilst the rest drag their feet along at the back of the pack. You start to wonder if this is a cruel test by the teacher.
2. Bag Checks
Before you head out, your child’s teacher will probably get all the children to check they have everything needed for the day. At least three children will have no packed lunch and several will be without a waterproof coat. You will left in awe of the teacher when they produce spare sandwiches and emergency ponchos. Sadly, it’s an event that happens all too often.
3. Travel Sickness
Unfortunately, you can’t just drive your own car and meet the kids and teachers at the trip destination. You have to get on the coach with them. The one that still stinks from the last school coach trip. After just five-miles there will be the first cry of “I feel sick.” This will prompt other children to join in and soon there will be a chorus of “I feel sick” interspersed with “I need the toilet” and “Are we nearly there yet?” Bags and buckets will be passed around and the first child to be sick will trigger a wave of vomiting incidents around the coach. You will start to realise that volunteering was not a good idea.
4. Lots of Walking
You can expect to walk a lot during the day. Obviously, if the trip is outdoors this probably won’t be a surprise but even in a museum you will probably get your 10,000 steps in the first few hours as your group tries to cover as many exhibits as possible. Wear sensible shoes, and be prepared for at least one cheeky child to ask for a piggy back.
5. Feeding Time At The Zoo
You already know that your child’s table manners are, to put it mildly, somewhat lacking, but now there are 30 children sitting on coats in a corner of a building or on a patch of grass delving into their lunch boxes and it makes America’s Black Friday skirmishes seem tame. You have just enough time to eat half of your sandwich before you need to chase after fluttering wrappers. One child in your group refuses to eat anything and tries to wander off instead, whilst another asks if they can have some of your food since they are still hungry after wolfing down their own.
6. Painkillers Are Essential
Your own child can be very loud when excitable and now there are 30 very excited children all hankering to make themselves heard. It’s loud. Really loud. There is out of tune singing on the coach, shrieks and cheers as you disembark, and the constant jabbering and prattling as the children travel around the chosen destination. As a newbie to the established group, you will find yourself subject to several interrogations.
Your child’s classmates will want to know where you live, what your favourite football team is, and how old you are, amongst other things. The never-ending questions, chatter, shouts and screams will give you one of biggest headaches of your life. Pack paracetamol, and have something stronger waiting for you at home.
7. Glorified Coat Rack
At some point your own child will ask you to carry their coat. Don’t. Even if they beg and plead and pester, just don’t. If you do so, other children will take their cue from your child and ask you to do the same for them. Before you know it, you are carrying six coats, three rucksacks, four water bottles, and one pair of shoes. You’re not even sure where the shoes came from.
8. A Rare Insight
When you pick your child up from school and ask them about their day you are usually met with the phrase “I forgot” or something similar. The trip gives you a rare opportunity to see what your child is like in school. You can see how they interact with their friends and teachers. Thankfully, it’s mostly positive. Mostly.
9. Peace At Last
Towards the end of the trip it’s apparent that everyone is exhausted. The stragglers have now dropped so far back they’re in danger of being integrated into another school trip that has followed you in. On the coach, the teaching staff offer you the chance to take part in a sweepstake guessing how many children fall asleep. You win with the answer 15 and your prize is a confiscated bag of Haribo.
10. A New Level of Respect
Throughout the day your child’s teacher has remained calm and cheerful, despite being faced with vomit, tears, and needing to devote a lot of energy to that one child in the class who you all talk about at the school gates. They have managed to keep track of 30 nearly feral children and even got them all to complete a worksheet as they walked around. You struggle to get your one child to behave in the supermarket. You have discovered a new level of respect for your child’s teacher and are genuinely appreciative of the work they do.