The one with the School Trip

So Flea’s school has a school trip next month, for two days.

It’s for the whole school year and will include an overnight visit to an outward bound type centre. There will be some outdoorsy-type games and activities, cooking over a fire and a camp.

There will be lots of fun – the sort of climbing, crawling, building activities I know that Flea loves, from her time in Beaver Scouts.

But she doesn’t want to go.

So when the letter came home from school last term, I didn’t fill it in, and forgot about it.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit relieved. Maybe I’m a neurotic parent, but I have issues trusting people I don’t know with the safety of my child when there’s risk involved.  I’ve read far too many stories about school trips gone wrong. I’ve already told Flea that school skiing trips are not in her future in any way, shape or form. If she’s breaking a limb with anyone, it’ll be with me.

The school called yesterday to tell me that every single child in Flea’s year is going… except Flea. And if Flea is going to attend, I have to pay the £85 fee by the end of the day today.

So, what do I do?

I talked to Flea about it last night as we walked home from cubs, and she told me that she would be happy to go, but she doesn’t want to stay overnight.

“I think the overnight bit isn’t optional,” I told her.

“Oh. Well, I won’t go then,” she replied, happily.

Delving a bit deeper, it seems Flea is worried that if she sleeps overnight the bus the next morning will leave without her. “I heard that you share a room and the person in your room gets on the bus without you and doesn’t tell anyone you’re still in bed,” she told me, with worried eyes. Seems I’m not the only one with trust issues.

I told Flea she’d be the only child in her year in school and she said she’s fine with that. I told her the teachers would do a headcount, like we do at cubs, and nobody would get left behind.

But she’s adamant that, all things considered, she’d rather not go.

I could fudge the issue. I could pay for the trip and gamble that Flea will change her mind in the next couple of weeks. I can see that she’ll probably enjoy it when she gets there, but it feels a little like over-riding her feelings.

Or I could let her not go on the trip. After all, she goes to Beaver and cub camps and has sleepovers with friends, so it’s not like she’s missing out on much, in the grand scheme of things.

I’m torn. What would you do?




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. Carrie
    10th September 2013 / 10:46 am

    With the usual I’m-not-a-parent-myself disclaimer (but as an auntie, a quasi-auntie and a Rainbow Guide leader), if she doesn’t want to go, she doesn’t want to go. She’s made her decision and I think I’d probably respect that – you’ve been through the options and explained what the choices are, and she’s old enough and bright enough to accept and understand that.

    • 17th September 2013 / 11:59 am

      Yes, I think if you explain the options and present a choice, then you sort of have to go with their decision.

  2. Purplemum
    10th September 2013 / 12:53 pm

    As someone who massively struggles to say no to things, especially those which are herd decisions, I am impressed that Flea can be so independent. I think that is she says she doesn’t want to go, with full knowledge of the whole picture, then you should respect that. It’s good to be able to say no.

    • 17th September 2013 / 11:59 am

      Ah, thanks 🙂

  3. 10th September 2013 / 12:12 pm

    In my opinion, youve raised a strong minded, independant little girl. If she is ok with the rest of her year going without her, so be it.
    I can undrestand the schools point of view,but maybe a sit down with you, your daughter and a school representative would appease everyone xx
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    • 17th September 2013 / 11:59 am

      Very strong minded!

  4. 10th September 2013 / 12:57 pm

    As long as YOUR feelings about the trip haven’t coloured her decision then meh don’t make her go. Personally I would pay the money just in case she changed her mind. If she sticks to her guns and doesn’t want to go then you’ve lost the ££ but if she does want to go and you haven’t paid it then she’ll be stuck. I HATE disappointing Squidge so I’d rather be out £85. Yes. Yes. I know I’m a big old sucker!
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    • 17th September 2013 / 11:59 am

      You’re such a softie 🙂

  5. Nikki
    10th September 2013 / 1:30 pm

    I wouldn’t make her go. As the others have said, she’s a bright young thing and perhaps with all the other fab trips you’ve taken her on, she just doesn’t feel the need or desire to go. I wouldn’t push it – plus you get to keep £85!

    Re ski trips – I’m totally 110% with you on that. My family were very close to one of the children who fell off a mountain on a secondary school trip about 20 yrs back. The school let them “play” on the top of the mountain and several boys fell to their death. It devastated the family, the school and locals who have never forgotten. A day trip is one thing (and yes, I’m still one of those mums who sometimes volunteers to go along to ‘help’), but in unfamiliar surroundings and far from home, not on my life will my kids be allowed to go.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:00 pm

      Oh God, what a horrible story – poor kids!

  6. Kathryn
    10th September 2013 / 3:37 pm

    The school really want her to go, so they should help you. Ask them to sit down with you both and go through the risk assessments and proceedures. See if there are any extra measures you can take to reassure her, or as a back up plan. Mobile, change for phone box, not giving her a room mate? Pick her up from trip early, seeing as its the coach trip home that’s worrying her?

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:00 pm

      Top tips, thanks Kathryn.

  7. 10th September 2013 / 3:58 pm

    If she doesnt want to go then I would not make her. She is old enough to know what she does and doesnt want to do. As long as she understands that she cant later change her mind then fine.

    If you make her go then you will worry and she will worry and you will both get anxious about it.

    If the school were so keen for her to go they should have helped establish why she wasnt keen on the idea and help resolve/discuss her concerns not simple call on the last day with a deadline.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:00 pm

      I agree – I don’t want her to go and be terrified!

  8. 10th September 2013 / 4:05 pm

    I wouldn’t send her. The worst that can happen is she misses a trip (which she isn’t short of) and she knows you listened and valued her decision. And if she regrets it… Hey… Another life lesson learned 🙂
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:01 pm

      Thanks Merry, that’s sort of how I feel. I want her to know I’ll respect her choices.

  9. 10th September 2013 / 5:01 pm

    I know I’m probably too late but I would pay the money just in case – as it gets closer, everyone will be talking about it and she might just change her mind x
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:01 pm

      Ah, you’re so much nicer than me 🙂

  10. Domestic Goddesque
    10th September 2013 / 6:53 pm

    I parent an incredibly sensitive child. I know that she wouldn’t want to go. But I also know that she would be devastated to miss out. Your situation is totally different I know. I bet Flea would be just as happy to stay as to go. Perhaps schools need to realise that not every child wants to take part, nor should they be forced to. We are raising children to know their mind, to recognise their feelings, to not bow to peer pressure or go off with an adult when they shouldn’t. We work on validating them and their judgement as individuals every day. What greater opportunity for doing that than supporting your child’s decision not to go on the trip?

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:02 pm

      I think it’s interesting about the issue of raising kids to know their own mind and then ignoring their feelings when it suits us. Tricky, isn’t it?

  11. Tired Mummy of Two
    10th September 2013 / 7:16 pm

    I think you have a very independent clever girl who knows her own mind and who has been on some amazing trips this summer. Maybe she just can’t see the point in this one and if she is happy then you should be happy too.

    I personally would arrange to do something special that night just in case she feels a bit left out, a nice meal out with mum and a film afterwards with no technology to distract you would be worth a lot more than a cold camp out with her class mates.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:02 pm

      Yes, she wasn’t short of adventures this year!

  12. 10th September 2013 / 6:31 pm

    If it was Grace I probably wouldn’t ‘make’ her go but it may also be worth explaining to her how she might feel when they all come back from the trip as well. The other kids will most likely be talking about their memories for days and she may well feel left out. I remember being sick and missing out on a trip was I was around the same age – it was rubbish hearing the other kids excitement when they got back.
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:01 pm

      Yes, I think a bit of fear of missing out might make her think twice.

  13. 10th September 2013 / 7:19 pm

    I wouldn’t make her go if she didn’t want to, but I’d want to make sure she understood that there’s no way she would be left behind if she did go. I’d probably pay the £85 and tell her that she could change her mind if she wanted to.
    My daughter didn’t want to go on her Year 8 ski trip when she had the chance to sign up for it in Year 7. I was relieved and didn’t try to change her mind. A year later, after the trip she was really sad to have missed out on the experience. She’s going on the next ski trip in February.
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:02 pm

      Yes, we’ve talked about it, I’m sure she knows it logically, but emotionally… well, different issue.

  14. 10th September 2013 / 7:34 pm

    Gosh, it’s a really tough one. One the one hand, you want to respect her opinion. On the other, you don’t want her to miss out and regret it later, especially if all the kids in her class are talking about it.
    I agree with the earlier comment that the school could help to address anything that’s worrying her. Could a teacher talk to her and reassure her that she won’t get left behind when the coach leaves? maybe even suggest Flea dorm with a trusted teacher, who will be tasked with making sure she gets on the bus (and Flea can see that this teacher has this responsibility)?
    If none of these things make any difference and Flea doesn’t change her mind about going, I’d leave it and not force her to go. It would be a shame if she misses out, but she might not think she’s missing out and be unhappy if she feels she’s being MADE to go.
    Like I said, tough one. Good luck and please let us know how it develops xx

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:02 pm

      Thanks – at the moment it’s still in the air!

  15. 10th September 2013 / 8:17 pm

    Totally agree with not ‘making’ her go if she doesn’t want to.

    I think if it was my child, what would worry me is not the fact that she doesn’t want to go – which I’d be fine with – but the fact that she’s not going because she’s anxious. I wouldn’t want a fear to hold her back from something she’d really enjoy, or for her to miss out because she was anxious.

    I was a very anxious child who just backed out of anything I wasn’t comfortable with, and as a result I never got any more confident, missed loads of stuff, and I had to do some serious ‘facing up to things’ to be a functional adult.
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:03 pm

      Yes – I tend to think with Flea she isn’t generally anxious but she does take a little while to find her feet when she goes back to school – she gets a very long summer break, and I think it’s a shock to go back and she gets anxious in the early weeks.

  16. 10th September 2013 / 8:28 pm

    Going on school trips shaped me. I had a vaguely explorative family as in we always had a holiday in Wales or Cornwall or Devon in cottages and caravans as an extended family (up to 20 of us) then I went to Norway, Austria and Germany with the secondary school add to that pony trekking in Wales and hiking in the Lake District. It made me. So Iencouraged my children to do the same. My daughter at 18 was an ambassador for a charity in a World Conference in Austrailia. My son sent me a Hello Mother post card that broke my heart with the school where he was cruelly bullied and at one point I wanted to drive 200 miles to rescue him from a scout camp. It shaped him but in retrospect he would have been better off at home.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:04 pm

      I loved school trips, mostly, but I do feel at 8 there are plenty more to come! And Flea does already do camps with the Scouts.

  17. TheBoyandMe
    10th September 2013 / 9:12 pm

    I know I’m too late, but if you can spare the money then I’d pay.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:04 pm

      Another nicer Mummy than me 🙂

  18. Jayne
    10th September 2013 / 9:12 pm

    30 years ago I was the child who got left behind because I didn’t want to go on my school trip. I spent the rest of the school year regretting it and feeling left out of all sorts of conversations. If it was my daughter I’d pay the fees and really try to get her to go. Bet she’d have an amazing time and don’t we regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do. Good luck!

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:04 pm

      I agree – it’s the stuff we don’t do that haunts us. But I also think it’s important for Flea to feel heard, and respected. Argh. Parenting is hard!

  19. 11th September 2013 / 8:01 am

    I feel contrary here for a reason though. I would make her go. If she loves outdoors stuff, she will love it once she is there. My question to you is “ok, you let her off this time, but what happens (as in the case of my 15 year old) when your daughter has to go on a trip as part of her GCSE field trip work for Geography?” If you let her off now, then she could turn around and refuse to go when it is an essential part of her GCSE – it accounts for 25% of the marks! What do you do then? She could refuse to go again in the knowledge that you allowed her not to go before. Teenagers can be very headstrong. You could potentially make a rod for your own back. The other point is, there is nothing worse than being the one person left behind in school, made to go either a year below or a year above, ie a fish out of water. And then when everyone returns, full of it, and you weren’t there… Total exclusion is a horrible thing and kids can be horrid about it. Do you really want that? The decision is yours obviously but I would personally think about potential consequences down the road… xx
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:05 pm

      I think it’s not so much letting her off – the trip is optional, so the school has presented her with a choice. She’s allowed to go or not go. When things aren’t optional, there’s no choice. I think it’s just tricky to tell kids they have a choice but not really allow them to have it. If that makes sense?

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:05 pm

      Thanks Mich.

  20. 11th September 2013 / 3:52 pm

    I wouldn’t make her go, but I would ask her to think how she might feel if everyone else in the class has gone, ALL of them, all her friends and everyone, and had a really fun time, and are all talking about it when they get back. Might she feel left out? If she still says no, then fair enough. But you’ll need to prepare her for the “when they’re all back” scenario in any case, so you might as well factor it into the discussion at this point.

    (I know you say you need to pay by the end of the day, but I’m guessing the school will let you pay tomorrow, if needs must, and you need one more evening to talk to Flea about it.)

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:06 pm

      The school actually agreed to give us more time, when I spoke to them about it.

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:06 pm

      Good idea, thanks 🙂

  21. Ashley
    11th September 2013 / 5:21 pm

    Flea seems to know the cons of not going (she’ll be the only one in her year not attending & the potential to miss out on fun) & she’s ok with that. Why make her go if she truly doesn’t want to? She’ll have many other opportunities in the future to attend activities like this tbh. If my 7 year old felt that strongly about not going, I wouldn’t send her. I also wouldn’t feel guilty about it as a mum. I may also be over protective at times, but I’m not going to be a sheep when my gut is telling me “NO!” x

    • 17th September 2013 / 12:06 pm

      Agreed 🙂

  22. 16th September 2013 / 9:02 pm

    I’d be jumping for joy that she didn’t want to go. i too worry so much about the safety of trips like that. I don’t think I’d be able to let my little one go at that age unless I went too. How fantastic that she knows her own mind and is confident enough to follow her own path despite what her peers are doing.
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    • 17th September 2013 / 12:06 pm

      Oh, I know, but I don’t want my neurosis to show – I’m trying to present a normal face to the world!!

  23. 25th September 2013 / 5:16 pm

    What did you decide in the end? I would have been inclined to go with my gut instincts and trust Flea. You’re raising a little girl who knows her own mind. Doesn’t seem much point encouraging that characteristic if her own mind isn’t listened to!
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