One of the most exciting parts of after-school programming is allowing kiddos to have experiences they otherwise couldn't. Given the clientele we traditionally serve, many of our kids can't participate in a basketball camp in the summers or go to the newest attraction in town. That's where we come in. We provide opportunities for kids they might not otherwise have. That's a really wonderful perk of this job.
Beginning several years ago, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield started a tradition of taking members on a corn maze field trip during October. This tradition is still very much alive and allows kiddos to have the time of their lives. They can paint or pick pumpkins, explore corn mazes, eat s'mores by a bonfire, play games, jump on inflatables, go on hay rides, and if the older kids are brave enough...they can travel through the haunted forest in the hopes of making it out alive...
This field trip is also an all Club field trip meaning we close down our traditional services and all members attending the Club, attend the corn maze. This is no easy task. Managing 200+ members, finding donations or requesting discounts, collecting money, organizing manageable groups to maintain ratios, etc. etc. While it is a ton of work, the pay off is incredible. We help create lasting memories for kids...there really is nothing better.
This handy guide can help you plan and implement a large group field trip with ease and organization. While there might be speed bumps along the way, I have found that these easy tips can make a huge difference.
1. Start with an excited, amazing staff!
These little angels were just as excited as the kiddos. They were ready for anything and truly embraced the "adapt or die" mantra I literally say everyday. Pump them up, give them buy-in, give them opportunities to succeed and shine. For example, Ms. Sarah is incredible at organizing. She helped put together s'more packets for the kids.
2. Call around and see your options.
it doesn't matter if you are going on a field trip to McDonald's or to the moon, call around to see who can give the best deal or who can work with you. Explain who you are, what your purpose is, why you chose them as an option, and ask for the best possible deal available. You can also explain that you are a non-profit whose goal is to serve kids and to provide them with amazing opportunities. Sometimes people will give you a discount or a referral. It doesn't hurt to call around. Sometimes you will get nothing or have to jump through several hoops. Just be persistent.
3. Utilize this amazing Big Event Checklist.
This list can help you stay organized and on top of it.
4. Prep your staff to the point they hate you.
I know this seems tedious, but it is crucial to over prepare. While you cannot account for the number of loose teeth or ankle bites, you can account for ensuring all systems are in place and ready to go. These documents were reviewed several weeks leading up to the event.
5. Advertise the Event
Advertise early so people know you will be closed for those members not attending! This also encourages participation!
6. Divide kiddos into manageable teams
Because we run a program called Color Wars, it was easy to divide members into groups. Each team was comprised of approximately 30 members. Make sure teams are as even as possible!
7. Create a Rotation Schedule and Map of the Area
This is so important. This ensures that all kiddos can experience each are on a field trip. Also a map helps staff navigate more effectively.
8. Recruit Parents and Volunteers
Often, with a large field trip, the more adults, the better! Ask parents to help. Recruit volunteers. We marketed this event as a family event to encourage family involvement.
9. Capture the Amazing Moments