Expat, Kids, South Africa

School Trips: Vodka, Mountain Roads, Crocodiles

I’m discovering that letting your child go on a school trip can be quite anxiety inducing.

School trips used to be fairly anodyne (theatre, tortilla factory, flower festival, dairy, vet). However, the kids are getting older and we live in Africa. Just down the road we have a local attraction called Croc City. Yes, there are crocodiles. There are lots of crocodiles, in a big pit. There are also snakes and spiders to stroke and cuddle (under professional supervision of course). A recent addition to the fun at Croc City is a zip line, which of course it goes over the croc pit.

Sweetpea went a few months ago. Minor palpitations, but I know she’s mostly quite sensible, so I just held my breath a little bit. Now it was Pickle’s turn. He’s just not so sensible. He’s at the boisterous boy age, where there is endless of jostling, pushing and shoving.

I decided we needed to have a chat the night before the trip. “No pushing, no shoving, no messing around. If you do a crocodile will eat you.” Harsh words. Tears from Sweetpea concerned about her favourite sibling, uncharacteristic sober quietness from the Pickle. I wondered whether I had been too stern.

Once I had scared the children senseless and left them to their bedtime nightmares, I sat and watched the news. The main headline was about the American tourist who was mauled to death by a lion at the local Lion Park, which is just slightly further down the road from Croc City. Lots of school kids go there. Not too stern at all.

I think back to my heady school days. Elements of our school excursions included hairing along hairpin mountain roads on seatbeltless minibuses, riding elephants and meeting lepers in Thailand. There was the trip to Moscow where the hotel was happy to sell $2 bottles of vodka to underage schoolgirls. There was the coach trip to France where the girl at the back of the bus was left behind at a service station because everybody was asleep and hadn’t noticed.

My – Poor – Parents.

…and now it is my turn to fret. Fortunately, Pickle (and all his classmates) were returned to us at the end of the school day intact and overexcited.

Thank goodness, I can breath uneasily until the next trip…which is on Friday. Sweetpea is going ice-skating. Visions of severed digits already haunt me.

Update: 2019

Last year again I broke out in a nervous sweat again.  We had to sign an indemnity form before sending our daughter on camp to the effect of ‘if my child gets eaten by a wild beast in the African bush, it’s tough luck.’  One child got bitten while handling a resident python.  Another went down with impetigo, a highly contagious skin infection.  Other than that the trip went smoothly.  Now that we’re in Hong Kong, anxiety levels have dropped again.   Apart from a few mozzie bites and damp muddy clothing upon return, camp was pretty tame.  Too tame according to my eldest.

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1 thought on “School Trips: Vodka, Mountain Roads, Crocodiles”

  1. A teacher I know just emailed me the following comment:
    …… and just think how the teachers feel with all those over excited children……
    for example, R, a dopey child at the best of times nearly got mowed down by a cyclist….
    or J who disappeared at a county show, or K who rushed off to the Festival Hall where eight hundred children were dressed as Twigwidge …..the list goes on!


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