This is my 4th year working as a tour guide and workshop leader (that means I get to do things like dress in costume and make candles) for school field trips at a local historic site.
When the tours are over, the kids pile back on the bus and then wave to us wildly through the windows. The tour guides stand together smiling and waving back . . . and unloading to each other about the problems experienced during that day's tour. Very frequently, chaperoning parents were part of the problem and rarely part of the solution.
If you've volunteered to chaperone a school trip this spring, here are some tips to keep your tour guide from complaining about you as the bus drives away:
1. Please don't talk while the tour guide is talking. This means on the phone or to other parents. If you have an urgent situation, step away to carry on your conversation. I wish I didn't have to say this.
2. If you're the only other adult in the group--sometimes it happens that teachers have to divide their time between groups leaving only the tour guide and chaperone--please help if it is an unruly bunch. Most tour guides know how to handle kids but it's always helpful when another adult--particularly one who might know some of the kids' names*--can pitch in.
(*Otherwise we're all, "My little friend in the blue shirt, can I have your attention please?")
3. Don't hand out hand warmers to every single kid while the tour guide is speaking. (And it's not like we were touring the tundra. They could have just put their hands in their pockets.)
4. This one is for some Dads: stop giving all the Dad Chaperones a bad name by being loud, disruptive and rambunctious. You're there to have fun with your kid and help when needed. You don't have to become BFFs with every single first grader on the trip.
5. Lastly is the complaint heard almost every single tour: When the tour guide asks a question to the group during the tour: DO NOT ANSWER. THESE QUESTIONS ARE FOR THE CHILDREN. We are all super proud of you for knowing that builders in the early 1800s couldn't go to Home Depot to get lumber, but we really wanted to hear what the kids thought about that.