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Tips for Picking the Perfect Chaperones

February 22, 2022

We’ve all heard the horror stories…the ones where the chaperones get into more trouble than the students while traveling. Adults that you thought were trustworthy and reliable are suddenly acting like teens themselves. Ugh!

So how do you pick the perfect chaperones for your student trip?

First Things First…
Check with your school district about a chaperone guide. Most districts have very specific requirements for those who travel with students. Once you establish the ground rules, consider the following 9 tips:

1. Clearances
Be sure that each candidate has all the necessary clearances. Ideal choices for fully vetted chaperones include teachers, administrators, PTA members, and booster organization volunteers.

Individuals in these groups must have clearances before they can interact with students. If you look beyond these circles for your chaperones, allow time for prospects to apply for clearances and time to find replacements if they don’t pass muster.

2. Medical Experience
Medical experience is always a plus on a school trip. The school nurse or a parent in the medical field is essential for administering medications, staying on top of food allergies, or dealing with medical emergencies.

3. Male and Female
Be sure the number of male and female chaperones is proportionate to and appropriate for your student population. Simply put, if you have boys on the trip, include male chaperones. If girls are traveling, include female chaperones as well.

4. Travel Experience
Someone with experience in the travel industry or who travels often is another great addition to your chaperone staff.

For many students (and even some adults), your trip will be their first big adventure away from home. Including an adult well-versed in itineraries, hotel stays, or even airport procedures is tremendously helpful.

5. Relatable and Trustworthy
It’s important that you are comfortable with your chaperones. You need to be able to trust that they’ll carry out the tasks they’ve been assigned and hold themselves to a high standard of conduct.
It doesn’t hurt if they have a great rapport with the students as well. Chaperones who are relatable and know the students will help the trip go smoothly.

Make Your Expectations Clear from the Start!
You’ve identified some solid chaperone contenders. But picking the perfect chaperones requires clear expectations! A few things to think about…

6. Costs
Chaperones often travel free or at a reduced rate. Let them know upfront if their trips are free (comped) or how much they will have to pay.

7. Participation
Clarify the roles chaperones will play. For example:

  • Are they expected to participate in activities or just escort students to them?
  • How many students will they be responsible for?
  • Will they handle any emergency procedures?
  • Will they have scheduled free time, or will they accompany the group the entire time?
  • Outlining how chaperones will participate in the trip will help ensure that they understand what is expected.

8. Alcohol
It’s astonishing how many times the subject of alcohol comes up on a student trip. Chaperones inevitably want to cut loose and have a little fun!

But let’s be honest. Chaperones are on the trip to protect students. Adults who drink even a little may not be able to handle an unexpected situation, compromising your students’ safety.

And let’s not forget – drinking doesn’t set a very good example for impressionable young people.
The best rule of thumb – NO alcohol.

9. This is NOT a Personal Vacation
Adults are not used to taking orders. They are used to giving them. That’s why it’s important that they understand that this is not a vacation, and they are not in charge!

My husband once took a group of 4th graders to New York City. Because they were so young, many parents went along to chaperone. The parents didn’t really understand why they had to follow the rules for meeting times, group meals, or hotel procedures. They felt entitled to go where they wanted and on their own schedules.

As a result, the group leader couldn’t complete everything on the itinerary, and students missed out on some incredible experiences.

While this was incredibly frustrating, it became downright dangerous when one mother was so focused on her own child that she left another student in her group behind at a rest stop!

Picking the perfect chaperone can be a lot simpler if you keep these 9 tips in mind. Be selective and you’ll rest easier knowing your students are in good hands!

This story appears courtesy of Kaleidoscope Adventures, a SYTA operator based in Florida.