I am the veteran of quite a few school field trips, and recently experienced the first one where I had my own "group" of little people to be responsible for. Let's just say I have a whole new appreciation for my child's teacher now. And I learned a few things along the way to make the next time much smoother:
1) Bring a big bag. I had my small crossbody purse and it was too small for my kid's souvenirs, our leftover water bottles and uneaten lunch apples, and the much-needed umbrella. If it had been sunny I would have wanted sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.as well.
2) Be reachable. I handed each girl a business card (which has my name and cell number on it) and told them to show it to someone who works at the park if we got separated. If I'd thought of it beforehand, I would have written on stickers with a Sharpie and stuck them on the backs of their sweatshirts.
3) Bring cash. Someone will forget to, and you want to be armed in case one of your charges runs up against a nominal expense you can help with, like a bottle of water on a hot day or or a ride on the park train so you're not exhausted walking everywhere.
Even though it can be tough duty, chaperoning a field trip allows you the invaluable opportunity to see your child in her daily environment with her friends. You can get a sense of where they fit into the social strata, who has a crush on who, which old friendships may have run their course and which new ones are forming. And it's a chance to spend a whole stolen school day with your child doing something interesting, which is pretty great.
Have you done field trip duty? What's helped you survive?