Feature Article - March 2013
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Programming: Day Trips

The Path to Adventure

By Kelli Anderson


Showing up, however, can be a big problem for the program directors, too, when obstacles like traffic get in the way. Being in a heavily urban part of California, Conejo's park and recreation's day trip planners take driving time through traffic into account before deciding on a day trip location. And when it comes to day trips for children, time in transit is a big consideration.

"We are located in southern California so not only the distance but what freeways you have to take to get there is important," Lindsey said. "How fun can it be to sit most of the day on a freeway in traffic?"

Traffic can also play a role in deciding when day trips are taken. In Littleton, Colo., traffic is heavy enough on the weekends that programs are usually only offered midweek to avoid the issue.

And sometimes arranging for day trip transportation is simply not a factor at all. For the Jamestown Audubon in Jamestown, N.Y., some programs went more smoothly when local participants were asked to show up at the day trip location on their own rather than spending far more time arranging to meet at the center before going together in one vehicle.

Children's Day Trips

Of course planning a day trip for children is another thing altogether, and depending on the age group of the children, can impact not only the "what" but the "where" of a day trip. The younger the child, the more protective the parents, who tend to want to keep their children close by and, therefore, prefer short, local trips within the community. For teens, however, longer trips are less of a concern as they are more able to entertain themselves en route and are more likely to be given a longer parental leash.

Safety is also a consideration, regardless of age, but varies depending on the group involved. For senior citizens, for example, taking levels of exertion and activity into account or making sure that the location has easy access for those who are in poorer health is important to prevent any injuries. For children, however, safety is less about heart conditions or falls and more about keeping track of those likely to wander.

"Kids ages 6 to 12 have to be kept together with their group at all times," Lindsey said of their policies and methods. "We use name tags with the camp information and usually have a bright-colored field trip T-shirt."

They also use a buddy system to pair up and walk together, use two leaders (that can bookend lines of children as they move along), have leaders constantly taking headcounts and at beaches only go to those locations with lifeguards where they usually position themselves next to the guard tower.

Of course, planning day trips with children also means providing extra information for parents. Locations of buses, times of arrival/departure, costs, what to wear, what to bring (including lunches or money), contact information and procedures for lost items, lost children or injuries are some of the important topics to be sure to cover.