ERIC Identifier: ED260883
Publication Date: 1985-02-00
Author: Little, Mickey - Peterson, Lin
Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools Las Cruces NM.
Planning a Class Camping Trip. ERIC Digest: Outdoor Education.
A well-planned class camping trip is a learning adventure which
develops personal values and concepts, generates skills for lifelong learning,
encourages group cooperation, and enhances knowledge of and appreciation for the
natural environment. Good planning will ensure a successful and fruitful trip.
This digest is intended to serve as a guide to help teachers offer this unique
learning opportunity to their students.
WHAT ARE THE PREREQUISITES FOR A CLASS CAMPING TRIP?
The students, under the careful guidance and direction of their leaders,
should determine the goals and objectives of the trip and identify ways to
accomplish them. They will thus become committed from the outset to making the
trip a success.
WHAT BASIC CONSIDERATIONS ARE NECESSARY IN PLANNING A CLASS CAMPING TRIP?
Among the factors to be considered in deciding on the type of trip to take
are the following:
--Characteristics of group members such as age, special needs, and special
skills. --Purpose for which the camping trip is to be made. --Length of time the
trip will last, including traveling time. --Distance to be traveled, mode of
transportation, and destination. --Activities anticipated and support tasks to
be performed. --Season of the year.
The most prevalent type of trip, and probably the easiest to plan, is car
camping to a near-by site for only one or two nights. The group may either
remain at the location for their activities or use their campsite as a base camp
and take trips from there.
There are, however, numerous alternatives. For example, groups may consider a
camping trip involving other means of travel such as canoeing, bicycling,
backpacking, or cross-country skiing. Obviously, these types of trips require
specialized skills and equipment.
WHAT ARE SOME CAMPING ACTIVITIES?
Students may participate in the following learning experiences during a
--Observe, identify, and/or collect specimens (leaves, flowers, rockes,
etc.). --View a natural site (canyons, caves, waterfalls, etc.). --Visit an
historical site. --Use a variety of camping skills (firebuilding, cooking,
etc.). --Participate in outdoor adventure activities (canoeing, rock climbing,
rappelling, backpacking, etc.).
The philosophy of outdoor education definitely needs to be instilled in
students so that they understand that a camping trip is a privilege and a
special opportunity to enhance learning.
WHAT SITES AND FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR GROUP CAMPING?
Numerous sites suitable for a class camping trip exist. Among these are areas
administered by the National Park Service, the state and county recreation and
parks department, the Corps of Engineers and other river authorities, the Bureau
of Land Management, and the National Forest Service. Others include privately
owned or agency administered camps and privately owned farms and ranches. Many
of the above have group camp sites available by reservation. If a large area is
not available at an organized campground, the class can camp on adjoining sites
in groups of 8 or 12 per site with an adult leader.
Facilities vary from no conveniences (primitive) to numerous conveniences
such as picnic tables, grills, firewood, tent pads, restrooms, showers, potable
water, electricity, open shelters, screened shelters, pay telephones, etc. The
trip leader should visit the site prior to the trip to determine the exact
facilities available. Camping guidebooks are available in many states and will
be a valuable resource when planning the trip. They usually provide lists of
campsites and note available facilities and/or conveniences.
HOW CAN GROUPS BE ORGANIZED EFFICIENTLY?
A ratio of one adult to 8-12 students should be maintained, with a minimum of
two adults for small groups. The total number of students should be no larger
than can be handled safely and effectively for that particular age group.
Consideration must be given to the activities planned as well as to the camping
situation. A maximum of 32 students with a minimum of four experienced adults as
camping supervisors is recommended.
The actual camping situation can also be organized. The participants may
choose from options like the following:
--Camp in one group with the meals prepared for the entire group. --Camp in
three or four separate groups of 8 to 12 members each. Each group would prepare
the same menu to make meal planning and food buying easier. --Camp in three or
four distinct groups, with each group planning its own menu. This plan works
best with older campers who already have camping experience.
It is imperative that duties be assigned in advance. Duties should be posted
on a "Kaper chart" which itemizes such activities as pitching tents, building
campfires, cooking, cleaning up, planning and leading evening campfire songs and
programs, loading equipment, cleaning the campsite before departing, and others.
If the students have been involved with the planning, the many duties necessary
to have a successful camping trip will be evident.
The supervising adults should assist the students with various chores. This
provides both guidance and positive reinforcement of desired behavior.
WHAT PLANS SHOULD BE MADE PRIOR TO THE TRIP?
An effective and efficient way to plan is to utilize various checklists and
"Kaper charts" for duties. Students of any age are quite capable of making the
majority of decisions if the areas of concern are brought to their attention.
Initially, students may work in small groups to plan such items as menu,
equipment needs, activity schedule, tenting groups, etc. Then, as the groups
share their information with the entire class and decisions are finalized, the
students become totally committed to the trip logistics and to the cooperation
demanded of them as members of the class.
Obviously, some areas of concern are the sole responsibility of the teacher,
but student involvement should receive a high priority. Thus, the following
topics should be addressed either by the leader or by the class members with
--Trip Goals and Objectives: Determine the purpose of the trip and prepare a
schedule of activities with a time line. --Camping Skills: Review the necessary
skills in class prior to the trip. These might include pitching a tent, lighting
a gas lantern, canoeing, etc. --Adult Leaders: Adults who have camping
experience and the necessary skills to lead planned activities are needed to
support the teacher/leader. --Travel Plans: Transportation should be provided by
the school because of liability. Schedule the bus or cars, secure maps, plan a
travel itinerary, assign students to specific cars if a bus is not available,
arrange for the car shuttle if needed as in the case of a canoe trip, etc.
--Camping Site: Make arrangements in advance to reserve the camp site. Find out
exactly what facilities are available, what fees are charged, and what permits
are required. --Finances: Participation fees need to be determined. These are
based on estimated travel expenses, campground fees, food costs, and
miscellaneous items. --Weather: Consider weather conditions, plan for possible
extremes to prevent emergency situations, and have a contingency plan. Check
with the most competent weather information service within 24 hours of the trip.
--Kaper Chart: A Kaper chart displays duties with corresponding names so that it
is clear at a glance who is assigned what chore. This method enables the duties
to be evenly distributed and gives every person specific responsibilities and
opportunities. The chart could also show who tents together and who rides in
specific cars. --Meals: Prepare a form that displays both the menu and a list of
requested food items to prepare it. Include a staples and supplies list and an
equipment list. --Equipment: Categorized lists of equipment, both personal and
group, should be compiled. Group equipment includes camping gear such as tents,
tarps, lanterns; cooking supplies such as stoves, cook pots, spatulas, spoons,
fire building tools; clean-up materials such as dish pans, pans to heat water;
storage containers such as ice chests, water jugs; and eating utensils such as
plates, cups, forks. Such group equipment will probably need to be borrowed if
the school does not own any, but individuals are responsible for their personal
gear. --Safety: The saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,"
is worth serious consideration. Safety should be stressed in all phases of
planning as well as on the trip itself. --Emergency Plans: The leader should
have a list of the parents' home and work telephone numbers. Awareness of any
medical restrictions, allergies, physical limitations and special medications is
necessary. Camping equipment should include a fully equipped first-aid kit. An
emergency plan should specify who will go with the patient and who will stay
with the group. --Group Rules and Regulations: All possible rules should be
discussed and agreed upon prior to the trip. They might include a desired dress
code, the type of footwear appropriate, desired conduct, etc. Students who do
not agree to abide by these rules should not go on the trip. --School Policies
and Procedures: Check with school administrators regarding such items as
administrative permission for the trip, the form to be used for parental
permission, travel arrangements, use of adult leaders other than school
personnel, liability, handling of the trip expenses, available equipment, etc. A
list of all students making the trip, the travel itinerary, and the activity
schedule, along with any other information requested, should be filed with the
principal. Parents should also be apprised of the objectives of the trip, the
activity schedule, and the travel itinerary.
WHAT FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES CAN MAKE USE OF THE CAMPING EXPERIENCE?
Since the camping trip has educational goals, every effort should be made for
the classroom teachers to use various aspects of the camping experience as a
follow-up. It can be used to enhance learning in various curriculum areas such
as language arts, science, history, and physical education. Even teachers who
did not accompany the group can relate to the experiences in a positive way if
they are informed of the details of the trip.
Other possible follow-up activities include the following:
--Cleaning and returning all equipment. --Writing thank-you notes to those
who assisted in any way. --Obtaining a written evaluation from each adult
helper. --Preparing a written report, one from each student of specific
activities and insights and perhaps a trip critique.
The trip leader should definitely compile a summary report to document the
trip and to help plan future trips. It could contain the following lists and
--Trip objectives. --Names of students who made the trip. --Names of adult
leaders, along with their addresses, telephone numbers, and responsibilites.
--Travel itinerary and activity schedule. --Total trip costs: travel, food,
campground fee, and miscellaneous expenses. --Addresses and telephone numbers of
campground, sites visited, etc. --Copies of all forms and lists used.
--Conclusions drawn from evaluations of adult helpers and students. --Notations
on positive aspects of the trip. --Problems encountered and ways to avoid them
in the future.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Red Cross. STANDARD FIRST AID AND PERSONAL SAFETY. 2nd Edition.
Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979.
Brow, R.E., and G.W. Mouser. TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING CONSERVATION EDUCATION.
Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Company, l970.
Darst, P.W., and G.P. Armstrong. OUTDOOR ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES FOR SCHOOL AND
RECREATION PROGRAMS. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Company, 1980.
Ford, P.M. ECO-ACTS: A MANUAL OF ECOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES. Eugene, OR:
University of Oregon, l983.
Hammerman, D.R., Hammerman, W.M., and E.L. Hammerman. TEACHING I THE
OUTDOORS. 3rd Edition. Danville, IL: The Interstate Printers & Publishers,
Hart, J. WALKING SOFTLY IN THE WILDERNESS. 2nd Edition. San Francisco, CA:
Sierra Club Books, 1984.
Jensen, C.R. WINTER TOURING: CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING.
Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing Company, 1977.
Leister, B. TRIP LEADERS GUIDE: OUTDOOR EXPEDITIONS AND CLASSES. White River
Junction, VT: Hartford Middle School, l973.
Project Adventure. TEACHING THROUGH ADVENTURE: A PRACTICAL APPROACH.
Hamilton, MA: Project Adventure, l976.
van der Smissen, B. LEGAL LIABILITY -- ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES. Las Cruces, NM:
ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, 1980. ED 187 500.