I chaperoned my first New Jersey field trip this week. I’m an experienced chaperone. In California I rode yellow school buses like this to hear the San Francisco Symphony, high school West Side Story productions, to see a magician, to watch a production of James and the Giant Peach, to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and more. I sat on these buses with my sweaty thighs pressed against the vinyl seats, with the windows open so we could get a breeze that chased away the stifling heat.
In New Jersey I chaperoned a third grade trip to a zinc mine. It was an hour drive – so we got the bus below. It was air conditioned. We got to watch a MOVIE. The seats were fabric and cushioned. They leaned back. I never once had to tell the kids to sit down or be quiet. Not because they’re better behaved than other kids, but because they were all watching Mathilda (which is a fabulous movie, by the way). I took a nap on the way home. I didn’t get sweaty. These kids don’t know how good they have it.
And the best part? A substitute school nurse came on the field trip. Just in case. You see several kids in third grade have allergies and use Epi Pens. The substitute nurse goes on lots of field trips in this district. All you Californians – remember hearing about school nurses? Yes, the ones who check your kids’ hearing once a year? They’re supposed to occupy that room next to the office, where all the band-aids are kept? In New Jersey there’s an actual RN staffing that office at the school every DAY. They teach health classes, administer Calamine lotion (to certain first grade boys named Zachary who get nasty mosquito bite reactions). They check for lice. And I’m guessing they can help diabetic kids and those with peanut allergies. And if the regular nurse isn’t there, the school gets a substitute. Of course our state finances are abysmal right now, so we’ll see if New Jersey school nurses go the way of the California ones.
In the meantime, sign me up for more field trips!