Why Field Trips Matter: Teens Explore the University of Puget Sound
Last night about fifteen members of the Rescue Mission’s Teen Program and four staff members jumped into Rescue Mission vans and headed to the University of Puget Sound to explore the campus after-hours. Although many of the buildings were closed, the trip was largely successful with our teens receiving a campus tour through the music and science buildings, the library, and a student residence hall; doing a relay race and playing basketball and other games the university’s Warner gym; and eating pizza in the university’s pizza parlor, The Cellar.
While field trips such as last night’s serve many purposes such as rewarding our teens for their hard work at home and in school, the most important purpose is to motivate our teens to pursue education and eventually attend college. According to our Youth Program’s Coordinator, Raymond Randall, “I do not know whether a field trip like this one will motivate teens to go to college. I do know that it puts the word college into their vocabularies. Being on a college campus may make it seem more real and tangible and thus, perhaps, more attainable. I hope they left [last night’s field trip] with an idea of what college life might be like. It's up to them to decide if that's what they want for themselves.”
Motivating teens to go to college is not, however, the only valuable outcome of our teen field trips. When I asked Raymond to provide what he thought were some of the most important outcomes of Rescue Mission Youth Program field trips, he suggested that field trips “like our monthly Teen Late Night...give teens who are suffering from homelessness an opportunity to have fun, explore new places, interact in positive ways with peers through team building games, [and to] learn things about themselves--such as hidden talents or new hobbies. It also gives them a chance to be a little more carefree (free from having to watch siblings, or other hardships that many accompany homelessness).” In other words, while we hope field trips such as this one will inspire our teens to attend college in the future, it is equally important that the trip serve as a source of fun and personal growth in the present.
As stated by Raymond, “When planning field trips my intent is to provide teens with opportunities to learn about what’s out there in the world and what they can strive for, while also allowing them to learn something about themselves, and...feel more capable of achieving their goals. Their paths don’t have to involve college, but if they do, that's great. My hope is that they draw out some path for themselves; that they begin planning for the future [and have] something to work towards and be hopeful for.”