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​​​The thrill and (inner) turmoil of travel

Submitted by jreid on

The energy and excitement was palpable on Wednesday morning as our Grade 7 and 8 students eagerly awaited the arrival of their buses for their respective trips to Ottawa and Montreal. I know this to be true because I was there. Huddled amongst pockets of students, I was able to overhear first-hand the excited exchanges around the itinerary, the hotel, the meals and who brought what candy. “I can’t wait for…”; “It’s going to be amazing when…”; “I’m so excited to…” were the phrases most used. What I didn’t hear, but acknowledge are most likely circulating in their young minds, are phrases such as, “I hope…”; “I’m worried about…”; “I wonder if…” These are equally important thoughts knowing that, for some students, family, home and all the comforts that come with that can be difficult to be away from.

We tout this trip as an amazing opportunity – a rite of passage, so to speak – and a chance for our students to mark an important milestone in their lives. While creating an engaging educational experience is central to all school trips, travel presents the opportunity where students can be with their friends and teachers away from the classroom. Travel (and overnight trips, in particular) help students build stronger relationships with each other. Being away from home allows students to engage in independent decision making away from parents. Finally, by being immersed in a new city, culture or experience, travel encourages open-mindedness, an appreciation for the world around them and a unique opportunity to demonstrate responsibility. Whether the student is excited or nervous, all of these factors contribute to personal growth that enables students to engage in future experiences with more confidence and less fear.

No matter how well-organized the trip (and I know how much work Mr. Wilson has been doing behind the scenes to ensure this!), when travelling with students, there is always a certain level of trust that must be placed on the student to take responsibility. Whether that is crossing the street safely, keeping track of time or ensuring all items are accounted for when coming on and off the bus, by placing trust in our students to be responsible in real-life experiences such as these, we can encourage and build independent and responsible behaviour.

In fact, I am routinely met with compliments from tour guides, bus drivers and passers-by, who commend our students for their kindness, respect and responsible behaviour. Truthfully, I am not at all surprised. Here’s to a great experience for our Grade 7 and 8 students. I look forward to hearing all about their time away.