A story about a school trip to Washington, D.C., dominated the news cycle in January, especially the coverage of a student who appeared to engage in a staring contest with a Native American drummer outside of the Lincoln Memorial. I will leave it to others to weigh in on whether the trip chaperones should have intervened, but this story reminds us of the important role chaperones can and should play in managing student conduct and ensuring student safety during off-campus activities.
It’s a Job, Not a Vacation
It may be rewarding and refreshing to experience other locations through the eyes of young visitors, but chaperoning students is also a job. A chaperone should not mistake a school trip to Rome for an opportunity to bring a spouse along to visit the Colosseum and sample gelato. Whether chaperones are employees or parent volunteers, they must be in their professional role at all times. That also means restricting alcohol consumption, both to remain aware and to model appropriate conduct for students, especially during communal meals. And, if students engage in misconduct, chaperones must be prepared to offer support and seek medical attention or even U.S. embassy assistance. Yes, adults can and should enjoy chaperoning, but in the context of their role as trip leaders, not as sightseeing peers.
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