Hints from a Teacher

by Ann Boyd, Rio Grande Elementary, Rio Grande, Ohio 740-245-5333, SCI-VIS 2000 Chaperone, boydsbunch@yahoo.com 

Last year I had the greatest adventure that I have ever experienced in my 27 years of teaching....In talking with Dan over the last year, he wanted me, as a new chaperone, to list for him a few of the things that a first-time chaperone might like to know; to make the trip a little easier. So here it goes........

  1. My students each traveled with one suitcase. The living quarters are small, so the less stuff the better. Our luggage all had orange ribbons tied to the handles for easy identification in baggage claims. Make sure that name identification tags are on the luggage ahead of time. It will save time when checking in at the airport. The adults will also need identification to verify their name on their ticket. Because of the size of our group, we traveled in matching shirts. It sure helped in keeping everyone together. 
    • Dan’s note: Even students flying unattended need to know the color of their suitcase or some distinctive marking on it. Parents and teachers make sure of that.
  2. Each of my students carried a backpack on the plane with identification and an orange ribbon. In the back pack the students carried snacks, walk-man, a few tapes, disposable camera, and other small projects to keep them busy. 
    • Dan’s note: Don’t encourage the bringing of walk-mans to be used at Space Camp. On the plane and bus – OK – but not during the day.
  3. As a chaperone, I carried a backpack with a zip lock bag for each student containing his medications for the week. I also had a zip lock bag for each student's spending money, which we exchanged for "Space Bucks" once we arrived at camp. My datebook contained phone numbers of the parents and the calling system we had set up before we left. The students each called home when we arrived at camp and each evening, three would call home to report in (we are kept so busy that the students didn't want to call home, but you know how moms and dads are). I had each family purchase a phone card (30 minutes are plenty) for their child, put the name on the card, and carried them with me. For us, it was easier than calling collect. I also carried two cameras and extra film. One for pictures and one for slides. We did a lot of speaking to groups when we returned and found it easy to retell our story in slides. I traveled with some cash, a credit card and traveler checks. (The gift shop is great. We purchased posters, a video, books, and a few other items to take back to school. We found prices to be very reasonable.) 
  4. The three of us adults also only took one suitcase. We found shorts and tee shirts were great. Last year the weather was very hot and humid. Tennis shoes are a must. It is not a place to break in new shoes. The bathrooms are like those in college dorms. You will need a robe, slippers or shoes that handle wet bathroom floors, and toilet articles in a zip lock bag. Camp provides all the linens. 
    • Dan’s note: Chaperones from the same team are not guaranteed to stay in the same building so “suitcase sharing” may not be a real good idea.
  5. I did take plastic kitchen sized garbage bags with the student's name in marker, which helped the students keep track of their dirty clothes. The suitcase will fit in the storage closet in the room and each person has a very small locker to hang items. I did take a padlock to lock up our valuables in my room. The rooms are very small, but sleep is all you will use it for. We found a flashlight helped us to check on our students after lights out, and an alarm clock a must if you want to beat the shower rush. The days are so busy the students are asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow and so were we.
  6. The students also need comfortable clothes. Tennis shoes and water shoes are a must. During the week, the students will be given a tee shirt and hat. As the students unpack and get settled in we did look in each suitcase to see who had what. By the end of the week, the student’s rooms get pretty messy and clothes become really mixed up.
  7. As a first time chaperone.....ENJOY. The whole adventure needs to be experienced. We found the Space Camp staff to be great. Dan Oates is always there to answer questions, meet the kids, and help with your needs. Someone does make a run to Wal-Mart everyday if you find that you have forgotten something. Take every opportunity to meet the other adults attending camp. This is a huge pool of talented people that work with vision students everyday.