The shared experiences of an educational trip—combined with communal meals, transportation and lodging—bond students in a unique way. Those kindred relationships are part of the benefits, and often one of the goals, of student travel.
But, let’s be honest: Sometimes the bond between students may cause issues you never thought of.
No one ever invites Cupid along on a trip, yet that doesn’t keep him from showing up with his arrows. There’s always a possibility student relationships will form. Mutual attraction may transpire between students in the group, or between a student and someone he or she meets while traveling.
In those instances, students are likely focused on their attraction—not necessarily on the rules or how the tour leader may have to atone for the situation. Still, teachers, leaders and chaperones are responsible for students’ behavior at all times.
So, how do you keep the romantic spark in check?
Here are some tips.
Establish rules before the trip.
Set ground rules for appropriate behavior before the trip. Remind students that while you understand they may become attracted to other students, this is a group event.
Reiterate the importance of positive group dynamics: To build a strong team, students must work together. Couples affect those dynamics. They tend to isolate themselves from other group members—and if they break up, it could cause group divisions.
If a couple is dating going into the trip, you may want to establish expectations and rules for their behavior. When doing this, be clear so nothing can be misinterpreted.
Know the consequences.
You can set expectations and rules, but how do you ensure rules are followed? Outline consequences for rule breakers. Will students be assigned to sit with the group leader? Will they be sent home early, at their own expense? You can deal with these issues in any number of ways. We suggest that you follow your school guidelines.
Ask them to think about their behavior.
Remind students that you are responsible for them during the trip. Ask them to think about the investment that was made for them to be able to travel and the disappointment they would cause. As in other areas of their life, they should live up to expectations.
Conduct routine room and bus checks.
In the end, students are responsible for their own behavior. Most group leaders conduct routine room checks and bus checks to discourage them from crossing any boundaries. Nighttime security can provide peace of mind. While it ensures your students are safe in their rooms, it also keeps others from getting into their rooms. Be clear from the beginning, and do what’s right for your group.
Be prepared for conversations.
Even with set rules and expectations, there are gray areas. Despite personal beliefs and values, it’s not anyone’s job to judge others for their actions. As caretakers of the group, we need to oversee the safety of students. Review the rules with parents and travelers before the trip, and again with students during the trip.
And be prepared for conversations.
Written by Educational Tours, Inc.