How to Sponsor a Field Trip
The purpose of this planning sheet is to set forth standards and procedures for field trips sponsored by WHEN members, so that field trips are a positive experience for everyone involved.
There are three parties involved in field trip planning:
- The venue (the location of the field trip),
- The sponsor (the WHEN member who organizes the field trip),
- The members who attend the field trip.
The step-by-step plans below will help you, the sponsor, make necessary arrangements with the venue and the members.
Why sponsor a field trip?
The WHEN field trip coordinator plans field trips with multiple-event venues (such as BYU and SCERA). These venues deal with WHEN as a school group, and offer us a great discount, as we often bring in 100-250 attendees per event.
However, field trips can be sponsored (planned and executed) by any WHEN member. WHEN welcomes members to sponsor field trips and open them up to the group. In this way, more activities are open to the group than those that can be planned by the WHEN Field Trip Coordinator. Additionally, families can plan activities that meet their specific interests, obtain group discounts for themselves and other WHEN members, and enjoy the company of fellow homeschoolers in whatever group size the sponsor specifies.
If you'd like to sponsor some sort of field trip, but don't know exactly what you want to do, you can check out the field trip list of Kim Kehrer (past WHEN president) through this link.
Steps to sponsor a field trip:
1—If possible, gather information from a previous sponsor.
Often, the field trip a member wishes to sponsor has previously been offered to the group. Shout out to WHEN members via the "Field Trips, Outings and Gatherings" forum and ask if anyone has ever sponsored a field trip to the venue you are considering. It's great to get information from someone who has done it all before!
2—Contact the venue and determine the following:
- When you contact a venue, plan the field trip under your own name, not the name of WHEN. Sometimes multiple members plan field trips with the same venue, and using the name of WHEN causes confusion. Additionally, WHEN as an organization cannot take responsibility for the field trips that are not planned under the direction of the elected WHEN Board.
- What is the date and time for the event? Must members arrive early? How early?
- Can you schedule your field trip for the afternoon? Many families prefer afternoon field trips that don't conflict with their morning schoolwork.
- What age group is the field trip for? Is there a specific age minimum? Are babies allowed?
- What is your attendance maximum/minimum? The venue may have an imposed maximum/minimum attendance. Alternately, the sponsor may wish to limit the group size to make it more manageable or suited to the event.
- How should people dress? Are there weather issues that might require warm clothing or sturdy shoes?
- What are the driving directions?
- What is the location of parking, and is there a fee?
- Should members meet at the location before the event begins, or will families go in on their own? If they go in on their own, what name with they check-in under?
- Are strollers allowed? Is the venue handicap-accessible?
- Are there any site specific rules members need to know? (Like no cameras.)
- What is the cost of the field trip? Is there a group/homeschool discount? Is it the same cost for all ages? Are babies or toddlers free? Are adults free, or maybe one free adult per so many children?
- How will the venue expect to be paid? By members at the door? By the sponsor in advance?
3—Type up a document explaining your field trip.
This document would include all the information you gathered from the venue, in addition to the following information that you, as a sponsor, will need:
- It is recommended that you require attendees to send you their name, preferred email address, and phone number—in addition to the number of tickets/spots they want.
- Specify that places are not held until money is received, and that registration is first-come, first-served.
- Specify the number of spots you have decided to provide (maybe you don't want to do a field trip for 100 people) and the date by which people must pay.
- Specify how you would like to be paid. The easiest way is to have people pay at the door. However, most venues want you to collect the money in advance and make one payment for the group. WHEN recommends that you set up a personal PayPal account and have people pay with a bank transfer (no credit cards) so that you won't have any transaction fees. Collecting checks and cash is cumbersome and makes refunds difficult in the event of a cancellation. Additionally, there is often an unexpected lag time in the mail.
- If you need to meet as a group at the field trip site: specify how you can be identified as the sponsor (i.e., "I have short brown hair and glasses and I will be wearing a purple and yellow sweater") and where you will be located at the field trip site.
- Specify whether you will refund money for no-shows. To encourage commitment, WHEN does not do this for WHEN-sponsored events. Additionally, WHEN has to pay fees to PayPal which we cannot recoup if we were to make refunds.
4—Post your field trip on the WHEN website:
- Click the "WHEN Forums" tab
- Click the "Field Trips, Outings and Gatherings" heading
- Click the grey "new topic" button
- Enter the name of your field trip in the "Subject" line.
- Enter the information about the field trip (the document you put together in #2 above) in the "Message" line.
- You may attach a flyer from the venue to the forum message as well.
- Click "Submit"
5—OPTIONAL for Premium Members: Submit your field trip for posting on the WHEN calendar:
Though this step is optional, posting your field trip on the WHEN calendar will help attendees remember the event. Additionally, it helps other WHEN members plan around your event, thus avoiding too many events occurring around the same time.
- The WHEN field trip coordinator will make sure that your field trip meets very basic criteria (that it really is a field trip, and not an advertisement or something like your son's piano recital) and will post it on the WHEN calendar.
- The WHEN Calendar has a great reminder system; specify how many days before your field trip you would like your reminder to be sent.
6—Follow through with the field trip:
- Collect payments and keep track of members attending the field trip in your own document (Excel, Word, whatever works for you).
- When the deadline is up, post on the website via the "Field Trips, Outings and Gatherings" forum which families have paid and indicate that field trip registration is closed.
- Pay the venue according to your agreement with the venue.
- Send a reminder email to the members that have signed up for the field trip one or two days before the field trip. Include all of your original information about the field trip (the document from #2 above) and again specify which families have paid.
- Arrive at the venue at least fifteen minutes prior to your meeting time. Gather the group as previously arranged, unless there is no previous plan to gather as a group and each family is attending on its own.
- If necessary, remind the group of any special rules they need to be aware of.
- During the field trip, if parents are not supervising their children, tactfully remind them of the behavior expected at the field trip. Good behavior at field trips reflects on the entire homeschool community, whose reputation we seek to uphold. Members have a responsibility to present a positive image to the community, thus influencing the community to treat us well.
7—Cancelled Field Trips
On rare occasions, a venue may cancel a field trip, or a trip must be cancelled because of bad road conditions. In the event of a cancellation, the field trip sponsor should contact all those who signed up and request a response from each party to make sure the message was received.
Monies for cancelled field trips should be promptly refunded. Depending on how the funds were received, PayPal payments can be reversed, checks can be shredded, or members may send a self-addressed stamped envelope requesting the return of cash.