The One Where I Helped On A School Trip...

From questioning if I'm a bad mother a couple of weeks ago, I then volunteered to help out on a school trip for Spike, who's just started secondary school.

There were about 8 helpers, each with 6 kids each, to guide on and off the coach with their kit, tickets, then collect them with all their kit after, herd them back onto the coach and back into the care of their parents all waiting back at school...

Fairly straight forward I thought, when I'd signed up to volunteer.

Well, I started with 6 kids, all aged around 11-12 years old, all fairly confident, kind of knew what they were doing. I was relieved I didnot have the teenie wheenie group aged 4-5. They had no clue what was their kit, nor where they were going, or doing. And being in a new town, new school, new kids, I had no clue either. 

My group all had their kit, their tickets, got on the bus, and off we went, once the statutory headcount was complete. We all safely got off the bus the other end, tickets were distributed and off they went to their activities.

Several hours and cups of coffee later, as home time fast approached, it was time to reassemble at the coach. I first noticed one of my group was missing. I went off in search of her, and was told she was in first aid, waiting...

For what I wondered. I gingerly popped my head round the door to find her lying flat on one of those hospital type skinny beds.
"Come on! Let's go!" I called.
She could not move.
She'd twisted her knees.
Just then the door opened and in came the ambulance men to transfer her onto the stretcher and off in the ambulance down to A and E.
It felt like I was on the TV show, Casualty.

I still have that vivid image in my mind, stuck in time, with the speech bubbles hanging in the air. In came the PTA Chair to see where I'd got to.
This was my first time helping. Would it be my last?
I nervously (therefore quickly) explained to her, and suggested maybe someone should accompany her to hospital.
No she was fine, I was told firmly.
Her parents would meet her at the hospital. Not to worry.
That put me in my place.

I then ran back to the rest of the group that was nearly assembled. Two of my group were still missing. Where were they?
A girl and a boy.
I checked the coach. Not there.
Another headcount was being taken. Other helpers started to search, and ask about. 10 minutes passed.
Everyone waiting, the PTA Chair making calls to mobiles that didn't pick up, re-dialling, leaving message after message. They just went straight to voicemail.
What are you supposed to do?
Missing kids. No information. Mobile numbers to contact parents but no immediate communication...
The coach needed to get back. We needed to get back.

I checked the group I had, and asked them again.
Some shrugged, not a clue.
I'd started with 6 and was down to 3 kids. The only helper that had lost half her group.
One volunteered the girl had been picked up by her parents. They'd come to collect her and were making a day of it.
Well, no-one told me.

And the boy? Again I asked. Another helper piped up. His parents had picked him up too.

Why was I the last to know?

Surely is it not the responsibility of the parents to let us helpers know if  they are coming to collect their kids?
If the table was turned:
How could we have pitched up at school without these said kids to be greeted by the parents saying hey? Where's my girl? Where's my boy?

Maybe I worry too much, but the communication has to flow both ways...

Has something like this happened to you?
What would you do or did you do?

The Lunchbox World Team x

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