Teachers serve as the interface between the park and the class. Teachers set behavioral expectations, manage group dynamics, clarify instructions, and enforce activity engagement and timelines. Teachers help students make connections to place-based learning material place by providing examples and asking synthesis questions.
What role do chaperones play?
Chaperones provide invaluable support to teachers during travel to and from Denali and during your time within the park. Chaperones are active learners, group leaders, and risk managers who ensure students stay safe and engaged. We recommend at least one adult chaperone for every six students. The right ratio of students to chaperones helps maintain a safe and effective learning environment. Too many adults can also be distracting to each other and students.
As you select your chaperones, ask yourself the following questions:
Which adults will work best with which students? Consider assigning specific adults to specific student groups to meet diverse needs.
Will you ask guardians to serve as chaperones? Guardians often want to be paired with their students. Will a guardian be able to treat all students in their group with equal attention? Will a guardian be able to equitably manage behavior? How might students flourish with non-guardians as group leaders?
Can you rely on backup chaperones in case of a last-minute cancellation?
How will you impress upon chaperones their responsibilities? Hold a brief meeting ahead of the trip to set clear expectations and answer questions.
To ensure students are safe and actively learning, chaperones should consider the following advice:
Be positive and curious. Model the behavior you hope to inspire. Students will observe how you react. If you are having fun while asking questions and learning out loud, chances are they will, too.
Let students take responsibility. While it can be easier and faster to “just do it for them,” any novel experience is an opportunity for students to try new things and develop new skills. Let students take responsibility for themselves as you continue to provide guidance and support.
Assess readiness. Regularly assess the readiness of your group for hiking (check clothing, gear, food, water, etc.) and educational activities (give instruction, supplies, timing, etc.).
Enforce safety rules. Adhere to park rules and correct unsafe or distracting behavior. Foster group engagement and focus during organized learning activities.
Encourage respect. Encourage students to listen respectfully, think critically, and participate. Be a moderator when the group struggles to take turns or reach a consensus.
Know your schedule, location, and purpose. Keep your itinerary in mind and on hand. Track what activities and location changes are on deck. An adult should accompany students at all times.
What rules must students follow?
A variety of rules and regulations help the park manage and protect resources while also providing visitors with a safe and enjoyable experience. In general, students can respect Denali by following the guidelines below:
Respect wildlife. It is dangerous, disrespectful, and illegal to harass the animals in any manner, including feeding them, throwing objects at them, making loud noises, and approaching them. Remember that we are visitors in their home.
Respect plants. Do not pick flowers or break leaves off plants. If hiking near the park entrance, stay on designated trails so that plants do not get trampled. If hiking in trailless areas, disperse groups to minimize impact.
Respect other visitors and people with ancestral ties to Denali. Just as in the classroom, yelling, running, throwing objects, or derogatory remarks are unacceptable.
Respect each other. When a ranger, teacher, chaperone, or student is talking, please listen quietly. Keep your hands to yourself.
Respect the park. Everything in the park, including rocks, plants, fossils, animals, and artifacts, is protected by law and must remain where it is found.
What if we need help?
Emergencies can happen, but proper risk management will often help eliminate some worry. As you plan your trip, think about the kinds of emergencies that could happen during your excursion, and how you would respond to them. Write down and share your plans with school administration, chaperones, guardians, and other interested parties.
While traveling to and from school, think about how and to whom you would communicate an emergency, as well as what first aid supplies you would need. Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the contents of your own first aid kit.
While in Denali National Park and Preserve, cell service is reliable within the first three miles of the park road. In a true emergency involving danger to life or limb, call 911. If you plan to venture beyond range of cell service, bring and know how to use alternative forms of communication.
Last updated: August 12, 2022
PO Box 9
A ranger is available 9 am to 4 pm daily (except on major holidays). If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message and we'll call you back as soon as we finish with the previous caller.