How To Plan a Field Trip Like a Boss
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How To Plan a Field Trip Like a Boss
We were on our way to the zoo with a new homeschool group. It had been on our calendar for weeks. My daughter anxiously awaited the upcoming trip and opportunity to make new connections with other homeschoolers. Needless to say, there was a little excitement in the air.
We had never been to this zoo before, so we decided to leave our house extra early just in case. I am pretty type-A like that. Nothing can give me more anxiety than running late! We also weren’t sure where to meet up with our new group exactly once we got there. So the extra time might come in handy.
After a considerable amount of driving to an area that we weren’t familiar with, (no zoo yet) we decided to call the group leader. No answer. And again, no answer. The directions and address were wrong.
A tad bit of panic started to set in once I realized the trip would be starting now, and we were lost. With no one else to contact since we were new to the group, we decided to venture off elsewhere to salvage some fun that Friday morning.
Have you ever had something like this happen to you? A homeschool field trip or event that could have been exciting and inviting turned out to be a bust.
No proper contact information, bad directions, and a poorly organized trip – was definitely disappointing. We never returned to that homeschool group. No apology either, and we found out many families had similar experiences that day.
That situation could have been totally avoidable.
One of my pet peeves is unorganized events. I have always felt like it sucks the fun out of a homeschool event or field trip when it is poorly organized, for whatever reason.
I decided to start and lead a homeschool group after unsuccessful attempts to attend events as a member of other groups. I was shocked to see how some of the homeschool groups were running. I would show up at the designated time and place and no one was there. Or show up as the “new person” and not be greeted or told where to go or what to do. There seemed to be no order to any of the groups I tried.
As a homeschool group leader, and after planning a multitude of events, parties, workshops, group meetings, and field trips; I have learned there is a proper way to plan a filed trip or event for your homeschool group.
Sure, anyone can plan an event for their homeschool group. But as homeschoolers, we need more groups and co-ops planning successfully organized events!
What Does a Successful Field Trip or Event Look Like?
- Successful events are organized events. People will quickly know where to go and when.
- The leaders prepare for the event before their members arrive.
- You have headcounts before the event to accommodate for everyone, and ready to assist any special needs families or unique situations.
- Warmly greet people as they arrive. They want to feel welcome, and not awkward. A simple smile goes a long way for the “new person”.
- Create clear indicators for children and parents to know what to do and when. A posted timeline or agenda works well.
- The setup and clean up are simple.
- Families will leave happy and want to attend your next event!
Check Out 100 Unique Things To Do With Your Homeschool Group Or Co-op Here
Should You Lead a Homeschool Group?
Honestly, if you are called to lead a group God will open all the doors and maximize your leadership gifts. He can equip you! But pray about it first and see if God is calling you to lead or maybe you would be an excellent volunteer mom for the right group.
We each play a role and are gifted with different offerings. So be the best leader you can be or be the best group member if you are gifted elsewhere. Volunteer moms are invaluable to group leaders! Find out where you can contribute your best efforts.
If you are not in a season to serve, that is completely ok. Enjoy your season. You may have littles or another situation keeping you from serving outside the home, and that’s completely alright. Don’t ever feel guilty about that!
1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
The Truth About Unorganized Events
No one wants to attend an event with no order, and no one wants to be there for the first time and not feel welcome. That is precisely how and why that mom or family may never come back. If you want to retain members of your group there are a few simple ways to do so.
Tips for Planning a Field Trip or Homeschool Group Event
- Plan your trip well in advance to give members time to plan.
- Don’t announce your plan details until you have solidified everything with your venue. Waiting to announce details helps to avoid plan changes and confusing people before the plan is confirmed and solid.
- Always keep notes with names of who you spoke with and all your trip information in one place. Choose to store the information somewhere you have access to it the day of the trip. On your phone is a good idea, maybe in a “notes” section or app. Once you arrive if there is any discrepancy, you have your information near to access. Or use a field trip or event planning template or printable.
- When you do announce your trip/event information to your group – Always give clear instructions and give them information on what to expect. I include everything such as, do they need socks or water. You can also remind them to dress accordingly for the weather or the type of event. Tell them where to park.
- Double check and add directions. Tell them where to wait or meet. It may seem like overkill, but this will cut down on questions from everyone. The clearer you can make it, the smoother it will go. Especially if you organize for a large group, organization will be key.
- Don’t forget when setting up your field trip or event to check for things like the max capacity of persons allowed. Ask if it is stroller friendly, or you may need to suggest that your mommas “baby wear” for this one. Find out what is the cost per person – does that include moms? Do children under two pay? All of those questions will come in handy.
- Set up a way to organize advance payments. Do you want to collect the amount for the group? Many venues require one payment so that you can access the “group discount.” If you don’t want to be responsible for this, you may be more limited on what you can plan for a group. If you do decide to collect payments, use a Paypal account or Venmo. That way, when an event is canceled or rained out you can easily refund payments. Always disclose your return policy up front in case an event is canceled for any reason.
- Headcounts – yes, you will need them. Once you know the max capacity allowed for your event, keep a headcount log. And as a courtesy (most venues require you to call the headcount in advance anyway) contact your venue a week or two before giving an accurate headcount. That is also a great way to remind them your group is coming soon and confirm your event. You never want your group to show up and the event wasn’t confirmed in advance. The venue may not be able to accommodate you. But, give your group a deadline for head counts. Don’t be afraid to state in your initial announcement for the trip or event that you will need a head count by the said date. Most moms know and understand that headcounts are necessary for planning an event of any size, and I promise it will make your job easier.
- Lastly – GREET. I always tried to meet and greet every mom at every event. Were there times that I couldn’t personally meet everyone? Yes! But, I always made it a priority at each event to greet each family when I could. Especially if it was their first time. People want to feel welcome and accepted. By you warmly greeting them, they will likely feel comfortable enough to come back again. You can also enlist some other moms as volunteers to help you greet everyone, or create a leadership team to help you with the group.
DON’T be overwhelmed! Planning is super simple if you stick to a system for each trip or event. Once you plan a field trip or two, you will be planning like a boss! This is your gift of service to others.
Check Out These Awesome Planning Resources for Homeschool Groups and Co-ops Here