I'm scheduled to chaperone a middle-school (8th grade) field trip to Washington DC soon. I've already had trepidations about this as I figured by the end of the week I'd be more likely to push the kids in front of a train than actually try to round them up and ride herd on them. I was thinking that they'd probably be noisy, unruly, and just a bit rude - after all, they are 13 and 14 - the age where they start thinking that they know everything and adults are silly old farts who "just don't get it.".
As if that wasn't enough to think about, now I see that there was recently a scandal on another school's trip to DC. No, the president and the senate left the kids alone. TSA didn't take their iPods or steal their other toys. They didn't get mugged or hit by a car. Instead, the kids allegedy had sex. Damn! I didn't think that I would have to worry about that until 10th grade! Here is the CNN video on the recent brouhaha. There are plenty of sites and bloggers who will tell you all about that trip and what went wrong. I'm more worried about my kid and other charges and how to keep things from going wrong for them. After all, I wonder what happens to an "unsuccessful chaperone"? Banned from the chaperone circuit for life? Expelled from the bus? Registered as a sex offender? More likely, you go down in history as the second doofus to make CNN headlines as your charges also get expelled and people talk about how terrible you must be at your volunteer job.
Anyway, it's an eye opener for me as I didn't think I'd have to be checking the bathrooms and closets on the dance cruise or making sure that there aren't two people under one towel at the hotel's water park. Raging Waters meet raging hormones. We'll be going to the usual places like the White House (Bill's gone, so they should be safe), the various memorials, Arlington National Cemetary (kids - out of the crypt, now!), and everything else all in one week. After a quick visit to some place out of American history, we climb back on the bus and count heads - have to make sure there aren't two in the bathroom!
Well, if anything this news has given me food for thought. Wait: speaking of food - have to make sure the seafood place isn't serving oysters - can't be having the kids exposed to even rumored aphrodisiacs on the trip. Hopefully the kids will return from the trip tired, sore (from walking - what were you thinking?), and chaste - no belts required. If we are lucky they might even learn something that doesn't involve birds and bees.
Update - May 19th, 2008. What was that about a crash? Well, I can't tell you much as the site this comes from says in its copyright notice that material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed (I guess they didn't realize they published it!) - however it appears another DC trip had their trip end with a tragic tour bus accident (here). As if I wasn't worried enough already. Now I'll have to walk around the bus inspecting the tires before getting on each time.