Last week, a few days before our kids were out of school before the summer, our youngest son and the rest of the first graders were going to the zoo (The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium). Their school has always had a field trip to the zoo for all first graders every year. I have never chaperoned any field trips my kids have been on. I have volunteered and helped in the classroom plenty of times but never chaperoned a field trip. This time around, I decided to volunteer to be a chaperone. I was actually kind of nervous about it because there are three first grade classes and here I was imagining how in the world we were going to keep this giant group together (even if there ended up being three groups separated by each class).
But it wasn’t like that at all. A few years ago, the school decided to make changes for the zoo field trip. They ask that 12 to 13 parents volunteer to chaperone per classroom. They never have a shortage of chaperones because they never have a problem with not getting enough parents to sign up. There are on average 20 to 22 kids per classroom. So each parent ends up having 2 to 3 kids in their care. Normally they have their own child and one other child their teacher paired them up with. Then instead of trying to keep one really large group together, there ends up being 12 to 13 small groups that can explore the zoo on their own.
With the small groups with one chaperone and 2 kids, it makes it easier for everyone to just break off and go see what they want to see instead of everyone going to see the same thing. Not everyone wants to see the same thing. Our son’s teacher came up with this idea a few years ago and I am so glad she did! I got to ride a school bus again too. All the parents rode the bus with the kids (one bus per class) and it was a lot of fun. We got the kids singing on the way there and on the way back.
When we got there, I didn’t have to worry about finding another parent to pair up with so I had another adult to talk to. Our son’s teacher wanted him to be paired with a specific classmate. His classmate he was paired with is his best friend. She’s a little shy and the first kid she opened up to at the beginning of the year was our son and they have been inseparable ever since. Her mom was also chaperoning so that made it easy to pair up with someone. Between the two of us, we had 4 kids in our care. When we got to the zoo, all of our little groups split off and went exploring. We had a limited time because we had to meet back at the entrance in 3 1/2 hours.
We had a group of really great kids. We stopped at a lot of areas and took pictures of our group. I cut them all off except for my son in the pictures I am using in this post since they aren’t my kiddos. I plan on making a collage for all the kids and getting them to them over the summer. We tried to see as much as possible. The penguins were a huge hit. The monkeys and gorillas were pretty awesome too. These kids were pretty good about asking questions about some of these animals too. They were really curious about the Okapi. It is a strange animal. It’s like a horse, donkey and zebra all in one. Like I said, really strange looking. So we told the kids about the animals and we enjoyed reading the information signs together.
There were tons of statues and areas the kids could just go and play. There are a few play areas (and they are pretty huge) that they wanted to play at. We made a joke about the kids coming to the zoo just to play at a playground. We thought that was pretty funny. It was all good though, it was their day and they had a lot of fun together. One of our favorite places we stopped at was the Manatees. They have stingrays too and the kids loved watching them.
We also saw sea turtles, alligators, flamingos, okapi, and a couple other animals. We visited the reptile house and saw tons of different snakes. The kids even got to touch one. At first our son didn’t want to but after his bestie did it, he went ahead and touched it. At some point we took a break for lunch. We carried our own groups lunches and extra drinks in backpacks. Which was pretty nice because we could stop whenever and wherever we wanted without having to go back for anything.
This trip was so much fun. I was so glad I decided to volunteer to chaperone this trip. I got to know my son’s best friend’s mom a little better which was pretty awesome and I really loved hanging out with this kids. Our son is only 7 so he isn’t into the whole calling and talking to friends on the phone just yet. Outside of school he’s still learning the whole social thing. I did get his best friend’s number from her mom though that way we can get our kids together over the summer. All four of the kids we had in our group are pretty good friends so hopefully they will get to see each other during break.
Meeting these kids and who my son is friend’s with was pretty awesome. I thought it was pretty cool to see my son with his bestie though. It was so cute because they spent most of the time holding hands. Don’t ask them if they ware boyfriend and girlfriend though. Her mom and I both got yelled at for asking that question. They say they are just best friends. That’s absolutely okay with us but it was still fun to ask them. Hehehe.
Overall, this was a really awesome experience and I loved every minute of it!