Field Trips, Part 2.
1. Call the venue where you want to go in advance. Some places require a lot of notice, and some aren't ready far in advance. Your best bet is to call a month or more before, and then if they don't plan that far out, you call again as the desired date approaches. Be open to their schedule if possible. Be prepared with an estimate of the number of participants. Ask about group rates/field trip rates.
2. Give everyone a calendar of scheduled events, and then remind them as the field trip approaches. On the schedule, be sure to include the name of the venue, the address, the date and time, the price, and any other important info. Also include your contact info in case they get lost or need to cancel.
3. When my kids were little, I led a playgroup. Every other week was a field trip, while the alternating weeks were park days/play dates in homes. It was a great experience, but the field trip costs added up. I tried to incorporate as many free activities as possible, such as nature walks.
Now I organize a monthly field trip for our homeschool co-op. Once a month feels like a better amount for my family at this time.
Some venues require that everyone pay as a group. This can be the hardest part of planning an event. If you have to pay together, have everyone mail you or hand you their money in advance. Keep a list of everyone you are expecting, and check off their names as you receive their money. I also like to keep a tally of the total number of people for ease of paying. If the price is different for adults and children, keep separate tallies for them. You may want to require that everyone pay you in cash so you can include it when you pay for the group.
Sometimes it is necessary to briefly talk to the kids about how they should behave while on the field trip. On a recent visit to the police station, it was necessary to be very quiet, so we wouldn't disturb the dispatchers. Talk about showing respect for your guides and following their rules.
Stay together. Have plenty of adults. It helps if the adults are engaged in the field trip, as well. Their interest will rub off on the kids.
Does anyone else have tips for planning field trips for large groups?