3 Misconceptions Educators Make When Taking Their Students Outside
Working with different teachers every week, I have learned to think on my toes about how to accommodate each one's goals and outdoor education experience all while creating a fun and open environment. However, I have also come to notice a few very common misconceptions teachers often make when taking their students outside for the first, second, and even third time!
The first occurs prior to the trip even beginning, and that is; a lack of pre-trip preparation. Being outside requires a different set of skills as opposed to sitting in a classroom all day. Simple things like, how to stay warm, proper layering of clothing, simple and nutritious foods to bring. These are all easily taught in the classroom. Preparing students with these topics will help make the program be the funnest, safest, and most exciting experience possible on their outdoor trip, regardless of duration.
Often as the lead guide, I refer to our students as an “outdoor community”. There are chores and tasks that must be completed while being outside during a multi day trip in order for it to run smoothly. Some teachers like to act as the parent and take control of the tasks (ie dishes,game/activity clean up, dinner prep, garbage bags, restroom cleaning, etc). This is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. We need to give our students as much responsibility as possible to aid the creation of an outdoor community that functions with everyone having their roles, place and responsibilities! I have found that the students thrive off this responsibility and would rather have a hands on role in the daily operations of camp function, rather than sit on the sidelines while the adults finish the work. It helps get the chores done faster so we can get back to having fun!
Finally, the educator needs to do a final gear check on each student! OH PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! CHECK THEIR GEAR!!!!! Regardless of how many gear lists go out, kids will be kids and want to look cool over functional. Please check each student's gear and what they are bringing on the trip.
This makes sure everyone is on the same page for equipment and will be prepared for all situations that may arise. So many hardships can be avoided and fun times had by doing this.
With these three simple steps, outdoor trips can be run more efficiently, allow for the most growth and learning, and have as much fun as possible during your outdoor experience. Prepare your students with basic skills, give them responsibility, and check their gear!!
Have fun and get outside!
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