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How To: Organize a Field Trip

Getting Started

A committee should be formed to do the overall planning, with sub-committees formed to handle the separate aspects of the trip. The size of the overall committee should be related to the size and complexity of the field trip - neither so large that it becomes unwieldy nor so small that the burden of the work falls on a few people.

Preliminary Planning

Initial discussions should be general, focusing on ideas and exploring a range of possibilities. These could include:

  • possible destinations, site visits, themes
  • possible dates, taking into account other events or activities which might conflict
  • duration of tour (several hours, full day, several days)
  • mode of transport (bus, van, car, walking)

Feasibility

The committee must then consider the feasibility of the proposed excursion. Points to consider are:

  • approximately how many people (minimum and maximum) could be handled?
  • can the distances and stops be met in the time allowed?
  • are there any seasonal factors which must be taken into account with regard to facilities or site visits?
  • what alternate provisions can be made in case of bad weather?
  • are all the sites fully accessible for vehicles and pedestrians?
  • are facilities available for washrooms and coffee stops?
  • is a guide preferable or necessary for this trip?

Modifications may be required to the proposed field trip plan as a result of the above, or if it becomes clear that there is insufficient time available to do the necessary planning. If, however, the field trip as envisioned this far appears to be feasible, then the committee can proceed to finalize the details.

Research and Detailed Planning

If a guide will be used, this person should be contacted immediately and become part of the planning process. The committee (or sub-committee) should begin gathering information relating to the field trip. Local newspapers, libraries and historical societies should be consulted for material on historical sites, events or figures. Other useful sources include the Historic Resources Branch and Department of Natural Resources of the Provincial Government the Provincial Archives, and Canadian Parks Services. The Manitoba Historical Society has an excellent collection of regional histories, biographies and its own publications. The information collected will be used in planning the itinerary and in the preparation of the tour pamphlets.

Once the itinerary has been finalized, reservations should be made with bus, van or car rental agencies, hotels (if necessary), and any museums to be visited. If the group is expected to be large, coffee stops should be booked in advance. Lunch and dinner reservations should be tentatively made, with confirmations to follow when numbers are known. If local guides are to be used, these should be booked in advance, to ensure that they are available. All reservations should clearly state the date of the field trip, expected time of arrival, location, and approximate numbers. All costs should be confirmed in writing.

Trial Run

Only in exceptional cases should a field trip be organized without a trial run. These trial runs enable the committee to work out all distances and times to ensure that things will run smoothly during the actual field trip, and make any necessary modifications. They allow the committee to check out the accessibility of all sites for both vehicles and people. They are an opportunity to ensure the suitability of washrooms and coffee stops, and to select appealing menus for the lunch or dinner stops. Personal contacts can be made with local groups who might be able to assist in the coordination of the details or make useful suggestions. Finally, the visits to the sites are an excellent opportunity to take photographs for publicity purposes and gather literature for the tour pamphlets.

Budget

At this time in the planning process, prices should have been received in writing for such items as meals, hotel accommodation, and any vehicle rental. The following list may be helpful in preparing a budget for a field trip:

  • transportation
  • coffee stops
  • meals (including taxes and gratuities)
  • entrance fees (museums, parks)
  • hotel accommodation(including single supplement)
  • publicity
  • donations, honoraria
  • tour pamphlets

At least ten percent should be added to the total budget for contingencies. To calculate the budget, the minimum number of passengers is divided into the above total and the figure arrived at is the cost charged to each person. The committee should consider whether there is a point (number of people) at which the field trip is no longer financially feasible and must be abandoned.

Publicity

In addition to having sufficient advance planning time, perhaps nothing is as important to the success of a field trip as publicity. It must make the field trip sound attractive and interesting, and it must be out in adequate time to allow people to plan their schedules.

Sources for publicity include local newspapers, newsletters, radio and television announcements. Most of these are free and are available as community service announcements. Posters in public places such as schools, libraries, shopping centres, and senior citizens facilities are other good possibilities. Whatever source is used, the publicity should be clear as to date, duration, location and cost of the tour.

Final Check

All arrangements such as vehicles, food and museum stops should be re-confirmed. All guides should have a copy of the itinerary. Tour pamphlets should be printed and ready for distribution.

After the Field Trip

All bills should be paid and thank you letters sent to all guides and groups who have assisted with the co-ordination of the field trip. Records should be kept of all costs and arrangements. The planning committee should record suggestions or criticisms for use in future planning.

Page revised: 13 May 2013

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