Seasick students. Lost students. A racy museum exhibit. And a few teens covered in flour. Check out seven stories of middle and high school field trips that truly deserve a do-over.
“When I first began teaching, I was asked to chaperone the 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. I was on nighttime patrol in the hotel when I heard a lot of noise and laughter coming from one of the girls’ rooms, well after midnight. I knocked on the door and opened it up to find three of our girls covered from head to toe in flour. Apparently, they’d had the foresight to bring a bag of flour with them and use their hairspray to adhere it to their bodies. They were then planning on pretending to be ghosts and knock on other kids’ doors in the middle of the night. I confiscated the flour and gave them 15 minutes to clean up. I have never seen such a thing before or since.” – Spanish Sundries
The Ol’ Switch-a-Roo
“During my first year of teaching, I and a fellow rookie teacher rewarded our honors science classes with a botanical conservatory field trip and a fun scavenger hunt. Two boys asked to use the restroom while the rest of our group received clipboards and directions for the hunt. Unbeknownst to us, the two ‘bathroom bandits’ sneaked into the rain forest and desert rooms and switched many of the plant identification signs. The scavenger hunt was an absolute train wreck, and other schools were arriving to complete the same scavenger hunt. Needless to say, the botanical folks were irate and they called our principal to voice their displeasure. Another student ratted out the two pranksters and they got a month of cafeteria clean-up duty. My new teacher friend and I didn’t take any more field trips that year.” – Mike’s Math Mall
Come Back Another Time
“Thank goodness I’d just had a baby and got out of the worst field trip I’ve ever heard of! My 8th grade team was supposed to take an end of year ‘graduating’ middle school trip. We live about an hour and a half from Chicago. So, all of the kids were loaded on school buses to go to Six Flags, which is outside of Chicago. It takes about two hours to get there. They never called ahead to the park to buy tickets; they just assumed it was open and could accommodate 200 8th grade kids. The kids come early to school, drive the two hours, and… it was closed on that particular day for promotional reasons due to a new ride! They ended up taking the kids to an outlet mall and losing a few of them for a few hours because there weren’t enough chaperones and no plan about what to do — just angry teens who wanted to be at an amusement park. They got home hours late. I was SO happy to be home with my newborn on that day!” – Jennifer Robinson
Lost and Found
“Yes, it’s a terrible secret that I kept until I was done teaching at that school: I was the only chaperone for a trip of about 30 students, grades 9-12. The goal of the trip was to set up their science fair posters at the regional fair, two hours away from school. Getting ready to go home, I got on the bus with all my students (at least I thought it was all of them) and I called names from the front of the bus. I heard ‘Here!’ for each one. I told the driver we were good to go and he pulled away. About 10 minutes later I had this really strange feeling, like someone punched me in the stomach; I had an inkling that I had left someone. I turned around and looked at each face. At that very moment, one girl held up her cell phone and said, ‘We left Nishal behind!’ The driver turned around and we went back. I thought I was gonna pass out. Or die of a heart attack. Or get fired. Nishal (not his real name) was a senior and he thought it was hilarious when we picked him up. And thank goodness these science fair students liked me. They never told anyone, as far as I know. From this trip, I learned this tip: Always walk the whole length of the bus and count heads. Never ever just call names.” – Science With Mrs. Lau
“I took a group of students to France for a trip and we visited Versailles, which was 45 minutes by train from our hotel. One of the male students, who had studied French for five semesters and who had spent all of his money, became lost from our group. Instead of going to guest services and having us paged, he begged for money in French at the train station and bought a ticket back to our hotel. I, however, was left in tears giving descriptions of him to police officers for four hours until the hotel contacted me to confirm he had shown up!” – Madame H
“You’re Looking a Little Green…”
“My worst field trip was several years ago when I was pulled from my then-job as a teacher’s assistant in a kindergarten classroom to join a 7th grade whale watch field trip. I was so excited because it was my son’s class, and I am a lover of whales, boats, and anything to do with the ocean. It was a beautiful day as the boat left the dock and headed to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (a popular feeding ground for whales off the coast of Massachusetts). Students had brought money with them to use at the snack bar, and they proceeded to purchase and consume many snacks on our way out to the sanctuary. As we arrived at the feeding ground, the boat began to circle around looking for whales and the swells began to increase in size as the students’ complexions took on a green hue. Well, you guessed it — students began to get seasick, and not two or three but 10 or 12 students! I was running from one side of the boat to the other trying to comfort and reassure them, to no avail. It never got any better until the boat arrived back at the dock two and a half hours later, when I vowed to never chaperone a whale watch again. Oh, and you may have also guessed we did not see a single whale!” – Maureen Prezioso
The “Bare” Minimum
“Every year for multiple years, I have taken a group of 60 7th grade students to a well-known museum in the area, where they get to learn about ancient history, view an actual mummy, and go on a simulated archaeological dig. Afterwards, the students are free to explore the other museum exhibits for an hour or so. In the past, other feature exhibits have included information about the area’s past or displays about things relating to farming and agriculture. It’s always been an excellent experience. The last trip we went on, however, was a bit of a disaster.
When we arrived, the museum director found me right away to let me know all about their latest exhibit. Apparently, they were featuring an ‘exciting and new’ artist and they wanted to make sure that I was aware — apparently they had forgotten to mention this when I booked the trip. They had me leave the kids with the parent helpers for a few minutes and walked me over to the exhibit, which featured wall-sized photographs of naked adults, a full-sized lounge chair that had been modified to include a large ‘adult toy’ that popped out of the middle of it, several displays of antique ‘adult toys and drug paraphernalia, and more — I kid you not. As one can imagine, as soon as you tell a group of 12-year-olds that they cannot go into a certain area of a museum, you immediately have a large group of very curious children who then spend their entire trip trying to find a way to get into said area. Instead of exploring the museum with my students and facilitating discussions, I spent the entire trip running back and forth between the two entrances, making sure that no one entered that exhibit. Does it get any worse than this? Yes, yes, it does. While I was guarding the entrance to that exhibit, I had a parent rush over to find me. Apparently, while looking at the mummy in the Egypt exhibit, one of the students passed out, fell over, and bashed his head on the glass case. The museum emergency team had to be called and parents had to be contacted. Thankfully, the student ended up being fine, but it was a very frightening experience. Needless to say, I don’t see any trips back to this museum in the future.” – Creative Classroom Core