The guidelines below aim to clarify specific expectations for SEASFiRE chaperones and for student behaviour while on trips. The guidelines also provide helpful suggestions for SEASFiRE staff and chaperone who feel they need guidance about what chaperoning involves.
Taking other people’s kids on trips is a serious responsibility. Good kids sometimes do stupid things on trips (as they do at home). Our role as chaperones is to ensure student safety, to promote acceptable behaviour, and to avoid incidents that would bring embarrassment to the group or the school.
It’s very rare for a student to deliberately go out to do dangerous things. Some may show bad judgment, or even choose to break the rules, but most students will follow your guidance as long as you set expectations clearly and are seen to act fairly. Students are likely to have been on many different trips with different chaperones, so they’ll have different experiences and expectations. It’s worth meeting with the students at the outset of the trip and making the rules you expect them to follow clear, including curfew times and areas they are allowed to visit.
Remind kids ahead of time that breaking curfew, being in the wrong place, being rude, not following rules, drinking, etc. can result in them being suspended from the SEASFiRE programme and will be reported to the school, who may choose to administer further disciplinary action.
Here are some guidelines to make it easier for you, and to keep kids safe:
Alcohol, drugs, weapons, etc.
Under NO circumstances should a student be consuming or be in possession of alcohol or any other non-prescription drugs. Any over the counter drugs or prescription drugs should be known to the chaperones and supervised. Any incident of a student consuming alcohol or any other drug is to be reported to the parents without delay for their further action.
Any student caught consuming alcohol will be banned from the following day’s in-water activities.
From the time chaperones meet the students to the time that the trip ends, it would be best to simply not drink alcohol. However, consumption is allowable within the following guidelines:
No chaperone should drink within six hours of when he or she could be supervising students. (Thus, if you have a 5:00am departure in the morning when you will see kids, you should not drink after 11:00pm)
At least one chaperone should be the “designated non-drinker” for that evening. This person would be named (to students) as the key emergency contact for that evening.
Moderation is expected in all cases.
The word “curfew” means different things to different people. In addition, there may be on any one night a number of curfews. Here are some expected guidelines:
“In the hotel” curfew.
It should be very clear to students what time they need to return to the hotel. This may include the yard, parking lot, sports facilities, lobby, rooms, etc. depending on the facility. It’s up to you to determine what is reasonable. Make it clear to the students where and when they must be in the hotel. In most cases, this should be no later than 8:00. Use your judgment. Considerations of variables such as the time it gets dark, neighbourhood, etc. should be considered. Whatever you determine is safe and reasonable, be sure all students know the time. If it is the same every night, all the better.
Certain hotel areas/room curfew. This might include the lobby, meeting room, rec room, other student’s rooms; whatever you decide are good mixing areas and is reasonable given the facility. The important thing is that you set clear guidelines as to when and where.
Students are to be in their assigned rooms, no other room. They are to remain there all night until the time you designate in the morning when it is OK to come out. No visiting, no switching rooms without your prior permission, no socialising. They should be going to sleep. Be clear as to the exact time of the Room Curfew. We suggest a 10 pm room curfew.
Recommendations for chaperones (these are meant as helpful suggestions).
At Room Curfew, check individual kids by sight. Knocking on the door and asking if everyone is there is not a visual check. Knock & go in. Check who is there. Count them. Sort out irregularities. The kids in the room should be those who are supposed to be there – no one else.
Check about 10 minutes before Room Curfew to give kids time to get to their room before curfew.
If you want to put tape on the door so you can see if the door opened in the night, that is your prerogative.
Check every 30 minutes or so for the next hour to make sure the kids are quiet in their rooms. You might want to designate one chaperone who does this each night, rotating the duty over the trip.
If students are being uncooperative and you suspect that they might try something during the night, split up the night for supervision in four hour shifts, for example. If you feel this is required, contact a SEASFiRE board member and tell them what is happening
Some hotels will do their best to put chaperones far from students “so they won’t bother you.” You should insist that you are placed somewhere neat the entrance, end of the hall by the stairway, etc. – not at the end of the hallway on the top floor! If kids know you are near, or they would have to pass your room to leave, they are much less likely to try anything.
Every student should know who the “go to” person and that person’s room number in the event of a nighttime emergency or sickness. It might be a different person for boys and girls. In case of medical emergency, be sure to notify the parents and a SEASFiRE board member as soon as possible.
You will need to handle things as you best see fit.
– Separate kids and get their stories separately.
– Have more than one chaperone involved.
– Write things down.
– Don’t accuse.
b. Ask individuals to separately write their stories, or answers to your questions, and give them to you signed. Or, call them into a room with their laptops, ask questions that they answer by email on the spot alone, and then email them to you immediately (again, separately). This will be invaluable later on.
While we can follow up when you get back, it is pretty hard to unravel something that kids have been talking about for the past five days, and already told their parents their own versions of. Having something written and submitted at the time is really helpful.
Administer what you believe are reasonable consequences, and, if necessary, contact the parents to discuss the situation with them.