Field Trip Guidelines for Chaperones and Teachers
What to Bring
Layered clothing - remember that Great Sand Dunes is located 8200 feet above sea level. It can be cold and/or windy here many times of year. Shorts are not appropriate for programs, even in the spring because the group may be traveling through brushy areas.
Sun protection - including hat, sunscreen, and drinking water
Sturdy boots or shoes - no sandals. During the education program, students may be walking near prickly pear cactus or yucca plants that can pierce light tennis shoes. In late spring and summer the sand temperatures can rise to 140 degrees F, so adequate foot protection is essential.
A change of clothes - most school groups visit in the spring, when Medano Creek often flows alongside the dunes. Students may get wet while playing in or crossing the creek to get to the Dunes. To avoid a wet and sandy ride home, have students bring at least a change of pants, shoes, and socks.
Leave No Trace Guidelines for Your Visit
Pick up natural objects like rocks, sticks, and leaves only to observe them. When you are finished, return them to where you found them for others to enjoy. Collecting or damaging park resources is illegal. Please do not pick live flowers or plants unless instructed to do so by the ranger leading your group.
Please don't litter! Bring trash bags and make students aware that this place is the home of many creatures. Just like they wouldn't want someone to come and leave trash all over their bedroom, they should do a good job at leaving the park clean for those who live here. Students can even help out the Dunes and the animals that live there by picking up litter that others have carelessly left behind.
Respect wildlife. Feeding wild animals is dangerous for you and unhealthy for them. Instead of feeding animals, try watching their natural behavior instead.
Help control your students: Chaperones should take the lead in getting the students prepared: make sure they have everything they'll need before they leave the bus, lead them to the restrooms, and supervise them until the rangers arrive to start the program. If possible, each adult should be assigned to a group of 4-6 students. Each chaperone should know which students he or she is directly responsible for. Actively participate in the program. Help students focus on the experience, share, cooperate, and pay attention. If your group has more chaperones than required, it is fine if some don't participate in the program but those who come with the ranger should devote their attention to the learning experience.
Help keep track of educational materials. With some lessons, easily misplaced or breakable objects such as skulls, fossils, mineral samples, magnets, and art materials may be used. Chaperones can keep track of these items as students handle them so the ranger can focus on teaching.
After an Education Program
If Medano Creek is flowing when you are here, many groups leave shoes and other items next to the water. This creek is notorious for changing directions quickly and sweeping away things left alongside it. We recommend leaving everything together in the same area, well away from the creek. Recruit students to make sure litter and personal items aren't left behind. Trash and recycling bins are locate in the parking lot. Thanks for leaving a clean park behind you!