May 9, 2012

Overnight Field-Tripping: A How-To Guide

This is a how-to guide for beginners.  I'm not a beginner.  I did this last year.  I'm a veteran.

For those of you who don't know, and I'm assuming that's most of you (count your blessings), Seward is a coastal town on Alaska's Kenai (kee-NIGH) Peninsula.

It's windy.  Rainy.  Sunny one-third of the time.  Generally too expensive and unpleasant for a person much like myself.  Being 3-ish hours south of where I live, you can imagine just what fun it is to take fourth-graders there on an overnight field trip.


Step #1
Because you are vastly under-prepared for everything involving "roughing it", stuff a borrowed sleeping bag, a pillow, and an old comforter into an army duffel.  Don't label it.  It already has your husband's name and SS# on it.

Step #2
Pack enough food and drink to keep 63 people alive for 2 days.  Be sure to do this part by yourself.

Step #3
Make sure the trip involves a stop at the local hatchery.  This will be both too-advanced for the students and immensely boring for you.
 Step #4
While at the hatchery, threaten at least one misbehaving child with "I will staple you to my side if you can't listen to your chaperone".

Step #5
Be sure the itinerary has at least 10 stops on it, spanning at least a 100 mile radius.

Step #6
Sleep on the floor of the Seward Middle School library with 30 ten year-old girls.  When they won't stop talking and go to sleep, just pull that old comforter over your head and pretend you are somewhere else.

Step #7
Be sure to position your sleeping bag directly underneath the emergency light.  It will stay on all night, guaranteeing a restful night's sleep.

Step #8
See this.  Think "Yeah, more like 'sit and think about how much I hate this place".  Feel better for a moment.

Step #9
Make sure the Park Rangers talk about glaciers for at least 60 minutes.  They must know how badly glaciers freak you out and will reinforce your fears of falling into a crevasse.  Say "Thank you, God" because the glacier hike part of the trip was canceled.

Step #10
When the janitor at the Seward Middle School tells you that the school is considered "high if you hear the tsunami sirens go off, you can go back to sleep", just nod and smile.
Why, yes, Alaska.  I am so over you.

All sarcasm and Alaska-bashing aside, I could not have pulled this off were it not for my 5 helpful and caring chaperones.  I'm sure they don't read this blog and, let's face it, it's probably better that way.  But I hope they know how eternally grateful I am to them for the donation of their time, and the setting up, and the tearing down, and the hauling of boxes of supplies, and helping of kids.  And I also appreciated the Starbucks. 

I started thinking on the bus ride home...I was SO busy running around, setting things up, making arrangements, tearing things down, giving orders, blowing whistles, making phone calls...that I realized I hadn't even talked to some of my students in those two days.
But when we got back to the school and they said "Thank you" and their parents said "Thank you" and there might have been some girls "all hailing Mrs. Darhower"...well, that made it worth it.

I'm glad I did it.
But mostly I'm just glad it's over.
One of the tasks I was frantically trying to complete last Thursday, before I was stranded without my laptop for two days (woe is me), was this guest post.  Ryan has the most adorable blog.  While she's off to London on a business trip, I'm talking about margaritas @TheRamblingsofMrs.Hargrave.

Her business sends her to London.  Mine sends me to Seward.  Something is wrong there.


  1. that would be a relief when it is over - sounds like you did a great job! and i would be threatening way more than one student. : )

  2. Wow! That must have been the most crazy/frustrating/tiring two days of your life! Sleeping in a room with 30 preteen girls, no thank you!

    p.s - I'm glad you survived :)

  3. You really do deserve a medal. I could never do it!

  4. Oh, Seward. I'd go back in a heartbeat! We caught a lot of fish there :) But- heck no- wouldn't wanna go with a bunch of kids.

  5. Ah, I missed this post! When you mentioned a hatchery, I was thinking chicks, lol. Nice to see that they decorate dumpsters there! That's pretty cool that you all even do over night trips! Your trip sounds better than Fort Roberdeau!

  6. Not trying to be awkward and comment on a post over a year after, but I just clicked onto your popular posts tab from today's posts. I'm sure that if anyone followed your steps, they'd have the best field trip experience of their life. I have to manage 10 kids in San Francisco alone next Friday, and I'm terrified. Hopefully, we all come back alive.
    I told a kid that I'd roll her up in a yoga mat today if she didn't stop laughing. I ended up having to follow through.


Comments make my day!