Academic Field Trip


Field trips are part of many students' education programs. They provide opportunities both for connecting theory and practice, and for experiencing the physical and social realities which are the subject matter of TESC programs. As a part of our educational program, we will take steps to foster field trip safety while at the same time recognizing that there are inherent risks in many activities and significant levels of personal responsibility that each student must assume for him/herself.

Definition of a Field Trip

1. A field trip consists of student travel which is necessary for the award of credit, which is directed by a member of the faculty, and which takes the student more than ten miles from the student's Scheduled class meeting location-- in Olympia or Tacoma.

2. Student travel which does not take the student further than ten miles from the scheduled class meeting location is not a field trip.


It is the academic program's responsibility to offer transportation to students on field trips through the use of motor pool vehicles and authorized drivers, licensed commercial carriers, or public transportation. Although travel within ten miles of a regularly scheduled class location is not considered a field trip, faculty are encouraged to avail themselves of the use of college vehicles if a large groups of students is going to any destination. See Section 8.200 of the Faculty Handbook for details of the travel procedure.

Overseas Studies

If programs involve overseas travel or field studies, faculty must work within the guidelines specified in Section 7.400 of the Faculty Handbook.

Field Trip Safety

The degree of concern about safety in the field will vary widely with the inherent extent of danger in the activity and with the students' familiarity with the conditions and environment they are confronting.

Students should understand their responsibility for safety-related concerns on field trips. In particular students should:

  • a. Understand the objectives and limits of the field trip.

  • b. Make any medical, physical, or emotional concerns known to instructors.

  • c. Share information affecting safety with their parties or team members.

Faculty should consider what safety-related actions or limits might be appropriate for particular field trips. When it is clear that a program activity will involve inherent and unavoidable risks, e.g., mountain climbing, cycling, rafting, sailing or wilderness hiking, students must read carefully and sign a liability waiver form acknowledging the fact that the program activities may involve special risks. Such a voluntary waiver, release, and indemnity agreement is printed at the end of Section 7.400 of the Faculty Handbook. Note that this waiver is also required for all students involved in any overseas academic travel.

In planning field trips and evaluating the risk (and consequent need to obtain a signed waiver from students), faculty might consider the following:

  • a. Judge the experience level of the students against the conditions that it appears will be encountered if the field trip is undertaken.

  • b. Identify the objective of the field trip and provide any necessary basic instructions, maps, and information about destination and rendezvous times so that students can plan and make safety decisions in situations that they will confront.

  • c. Suggest basic safety equipment to students participating in a field trip and remind students that they should have the equipment before they are allowed to take part in the field trip.

  • d. Provide basic instruction, if necessary, for specialized equipment provided by TESC.

  • e. Encourage students to use the resources of the TESC Wilderness Center for equipment training and general safety orientation and the McLane Fire Department for first aid training.

  • f. Provide a level of direction or guidance on a field trip which is appropriate in their judgment to risk on the field trip. Thus, for example, an experience involving climbing or river kayaking might indicate the party should stay together at all times, while a hike or snorkeling on a reef might be handled with a buddy system, and an exercise like plant identification in a valley could be handled individually.

  • g. Consider a means to account for location of students on a field trip when location would be a significant concern in their judgment.

  • h. Consider guiding the group's activity based on their observation of the capacity of the less able participants on the field trip.

Students are not to use alcohol or drugs on any college sponsored field trip activity

Safety on any field trip is a shared concern of students and faculty. The faculty will make clear the parameters of the activity and provide opportunity for students to make informed judgments about their personal levels of comfort and safety. Where serious safety issues are involved the faculty and students should put the physical welfare of the students before completion of the specific learning objective of the activity.