Our favourite school trips
Ah, school trips. The anticipation of a big day out, the endless advice of ‘pack a plastic bag to sit on’ and trying to blag the back seat of the bus for the journey (unless you had travel sickness in which case it was straight to the front next to Miss).
Here, the Parentdish team share their – mostly happy! – memories of school trips and class outings. Please do share yours in the comments below!
Clarks is giving away the best school trip everrrrr! Simply head over to clarks.co.uk/school and tell us what your best school trip would be to enter! Terms and Conditions apply.
Editorial assistant Rebecca Gillie
“The traditional rite of passage from junior to senior school in my home village is the five-day trip to London at the end of Year Six, designed to introduce sheltered 11-year-olds to a world beyond the Jurassic coast. It’s been going on since my dad was at the school and, as far as I know, is still going.
“Over five mad, exciting days, 90 of us kids were whisked around all the sights in a whirlwind tour, including a West End show (we got The Lion King, but I was always slightly jealous that Dad got Petula Clark in The Sound of Music).
“One thing that I remember causing more excitement than London Zoo, the Lion King or Madame Tussauds put together was the discovery of a phone box outside our accommodation full of cards advertising the services of the local ladies of the night.
“Of course, the teachers were mindful that for most of us yokels, London was a sensory experience completely unlike anything else we’d ever had before. To de-stimulate us in the evenings, they would gather us all in pyjamas with a cup of cocoa and read Oscar Wilde short stories out loud.”
Parentdish writer Ben Wakeling
“When I think of school trips I can’t really remember any specific great memories – it all just merges into a montage of thin sandwiches, cagoules and minibuses.
“I do remember one trip, when I was about 11 or 12, which would have been funny for everyone else: we went to the Snowdome in Tamworth to try our hand at skiing. One by one we slid tentatively down a shallow slope, legs rigid and hands outstretched. Despite having never been skiing before, I thought this was my time to shine, and bombed down the slope at great speed.
“Unfortunately, no-one had taught me how to stop, so I crashed into the barrier at the bottom and found myself in a tangled heap of limbs and carbon fibre. I wasn’t injured, but I’d managed to knot myself so much I couldn’t get up. Never fear, I thought. A teacher will be along soon to rescue me.
“But a teacher never came; not immediately, anyway. Whether they chose to ignore me, hoping that I’d learn my lesson after overdosing on arrogance, or they genuinely hadn’t seen me, I don’t know. All I know is that I was at the bottom of the slope in a heap for at least 15 minutes, calling feebly for help, my backside growing colder by the second. Not much fun for me, but great for everyone else!”
Senior writer Ellen Wallwork
“When I was in primary school we went on a day trip to The Ragged School museum in East London. The whole class got dressed up in the style of poor Victorian children. We were told ‘the more ragged’ we were the better, so we went to town dirtying up our faces and clothes. (I’m sure a lot of our parents have less fond memories of our return from the trip.)
“At the museum we took our places at wooden desks in the Victorian school room which had been originally set up by Dr Barnado as a free school for poor children in London’s East End. We were given blackboards on which to take part in a maths, spelling and handwriting lesson, and there was a thrill of excitement mixed with fear as the teacher explained the punishments they used to dole out to disobedient children in the ‘olden days’.”
Deputy editor Liz Stansfield
“In primary school we took a trip to a replica Anglo-Saxon village, and spent the day ‘living’ like they would have done in little huts with straw roofs. We toasted bread over a fire and made clay coins to take home with us. The weather was atrocious (this was in Cornwall so we should have been more prepared) and I remember a classmate losing a shoe in the mud in dramatic fashion. The staff made him some sort of ‘shoe’ concoction using wool, a plastic bag and heavy duty string and he trudged around wearing it all day.”
Writer Kim Jones
“When I was 14, I went on a school trip to Chambéry in south eastern France. We girls were so excited – not about witnessing the unique culture, breathtaking scenery or medieval history of the town we were visiting – but for the chance to swoon at the accents of real French boys, who of course seemed far more sophisticated than the pranksters in our class.
“I remember laughing a lot with my girlfriends, and grimacing at eating a plateful of what was rumoured to be ‘horsemeat’ – and of course shyly chatting to some real French teens (under the watchful eyes of our teachers). I was also a sucker for French style even at that age and with my last 15 Francs I recklessly purchased a pair of black and yellow suede bee-like ankle boots which were the talk of my small Welsh hometown when I returned – for all the wrong reasons, but I was blind to their brashness. As far as I was concerned these shoes oozed sophistication simply because they were from France. So they were a permanent fixture on my feet for months afterwards, transporting me back to a place that was as close to Paris as I’d ever been.”
Parentdish writer and author Liat Hughes-Joshi
“I grew up about an hour away from the Lake District and was fortunate enough to go to a school which had an outward bound type centre there. A lot of our school trips were up there, either for the day or residentials. The food they gave us was pretty awful, the dorms were damp and sometimes chilly and had these strange bunk beds with no mattresses but a bit of woven plasticky fabric across them, hammock style, which you put your sleeping bag on, but it was all brilliant and I loved it. We would go on walks with a clipboard of things to spot or find along the way and had tours of farms. When we were older, there was canoeing or windsurfing on Ullswater – it definitely gave me a love of the outdoors and countryside which I hold to this day and I look back and think it was as valuable to my education as anything more academic we did back in the classroom.”
Contributing editor Keith Kendrick:
“Before redundancy forced me to become a reluctant house dad, I didn’t realise how much of my kids’ childhoods I was missing. I’d get home from work, so wound up with stress, that I could barely summon the energy to even experience them vicariously as my wife relayed what our children, now aged 12, nine and six, had got up to. But becoming a stay-at-home-dad changed all that.
“For the first time, I got to go on our kids’ school trips – and I realised what a privilege it was to share such an on-oh-so fleeting and precious time with them. My favourite memory was accompanying my youngest, who was then three, on a trip to a country park. The day started bright and sunny and I hadn’t packed anything more than his lunch.
“But then the heavens opened and we got so soaked that I ended up whipping off my shirt like Superdad to protect my shivering boy from the deluge. It was only when my son’s nursery teacher raised a questioning eyebrow at me that I realised my man boobs were showing through my under-vest – like a competitor in a wet T-shirt contest. Not a pretty sight!”
Parentdish writer Jen Barton
“Having grown-up in New York City, I was rather spoilt when it came to school trips – all the best museums, theatres and monuments were a walk or bus ride away. My favourite trips were always the ones where we’d walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – I loved walking down Fifth Avenue, going up the imposing front steps and stepping inside to discover something new and exciting.
“I particularly remember going to see the ‘Birdman,’ an Assyrian wall relief featuring a man’s body with a birdlike face, with thick calf muscles and an amazing floral watch detail. We would sketch the Birdman, discussing the recurring motifs, and I remember feeling like I’d escaped to another time, even though I was only a few blocks from school.
“These trips would last 40 minutes or an hour, but they were an art session, history lesson and geography class rolled into one. The best part about the Met Museum is that each time you go there, you can find a new piece of art or artifact to fall in love with. You can’t help always seeing the works there through a child’s eyes.”
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