During the summer, it is common for youth groups to take a day or two and go to an amusement park. Some youth workers look forward to this trip and some endure it. But, whatever you personally feel about amusement parks, I want to offer a few helpful tips to make the day go smoother.
1. buddy system
This is the old standard way to keep someone from being left out or getting lost by themselves. But at the amusement park, it is even more important. I like to modify this system while at the amusement park – it has to be an even numbered group of buddies. It can be 2, 4 or 6 – but it has to be even. When you go on a ride and there are five people, one person is most likely going to get left out (and have to ride alone).
2. meeting points/times
Throughout the day, have check in points. Depending on your group and the park you are at, you might only need one or you might need a couple. An easy way to handle this is to have everyone in the group eat together (#6 below). You can have several adults set out around the park at meeting points, so a student does not have to walk a mile just to check in.
3. utilize cell phones
Since most students (at least one in each group) will have a cell phone with them on the trip, you can use it as your check-in system. Have the students call an adult during a certain window of time and let them know their location. If there is any problem, you can also use your cell phone to track down any student rather quickly.
And in the rare case (because I know this never happens) some of your students are late getting to the meeting point at the end of the day, just call them and “remind” them they need to run!
4. wear bright colored, matching shirts
This is a great way to recognize someone from your group at a distance. It is not enough to wear matching white shirts with your logo on front – a large majority of people at the park that day will probably have on white shirts. Choose a color that most people do not have (think lime green or neon pink) and make a fun shirt for the summer. Have the students wear it to your events.
5. leave no one out
If you have a student who does not like to ride roller coasters, do not leave them out of the fun. Make sure they still have a group to hang out with, and this does not include them waiting for their friends to ride all of the rides. Have an adult spend the day with them if no one else wants to “miss the coasters.” Make sure no one misses out on the fun, even if it is not the same fun as the rest of the group.
6. eat together
Since you will not see most of the students throughout the day, take time to each a meal together. This can be a “check-in” time (#2 above) or just a time to enjoy some company. Ask what rides are good, which ones are being worked on, which lines are short or long, and which rides are not worth your time. I do not recommend making the students stay for a certain amount of time, just let them eat and return to the park (with their group, of course).
What do you do when your group goes to the amusement park? What is your favorite amusement park?