Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Helping Teens See the Value in School Trips

by Jane Wangersky | April 10th, 2015 | Social, Teens

teen boy (400x400)Your teen was probably pretty excited the first time they went on an overnight trip with a school group — even if you were going along as a chaperone — but after a couple of years, the novelty can wear off and teen world-weariness can set in. Staying home, maybe with a boyfriend/girlfriend close by, can seem like a better option. (They may also be dealing with depression — have they been losing interest in everything lately?)

As a parent, you’re more likely in favor of them going. After all, trips like these give a group a stronger shared identity and also connect them to the larger world of music, sports, or whatever their field is. But you can’t force a teen to go. Even if you’ve made a non-refundable deposit, many teens will have no problem just paying you back. And they won’t be persuaded by parents saying they had wanted to use the time for their own getaway.

So here are some objections teens make to going on school trips, and some ways to counter them.

“It’s a waste of time/We do nothing useful.” Even if your group never wins an award or learns a thing at a workshop — which is unlikely — it’ll still grow in the senses of identity and belonging that I mentioned above.

“I hate sharing a room.” Coping with roommates is good practice for college and later living away from home. It might be good to share some stories and problem solving strategies from the parents’ past.

“I want to save my money.” Try to find out, tactfully, what they want to save it for. Is your teen having some difficulties with finances? Do you need to rework the way your family handles these things? Since teens seldom pay for school trips entirely on their own, you may also hear . . .

“I don’t like asking you to spend the money.” Well, that’s very thoughtful, but sending your teen on this trip is something you’ve chosen to do, and you can let them know it. While we’re on the subject, some of the money is probably coming from group fundraising, with your teen entitled to a share. So they may say . . .

“My share of the fundraiser money will roll over to next year.” What happens if you don’t want to go on next year’s trip either? Are you going to graduate without using any of that money you went door to door (or washed cars) for?

“I don’t want to leave Caitlin/Tyler.” This is probably the hardest one of all to deal with, but maybe you can urge your teen to ask their significant other if they really expect or want such a sacrifice.

If any of these works, enjoy your break. Unless of course you’re a chaperone — then, enjoy the trip.

Comments on Helping Teens See the Value in School Trips