We plan outings based on season, the school calendar, student interest, and leader availability. Leaders pair up, create a budget, and check permitting requirements, and then submit the complete description to the Outings Director, who compiles the list of outings into a catalog to be printed and distributed at the Outings Assembly. After the assembly, you may begin signing up for outings. Over the course of the semester, Outings leaders work with students to gear up for outings and get oriented to the experience they will have. Peter handles permission forms, questions, cancellations, and fees.
Signing Up For Outings and Permission Forms
It is important that students willingly accept responsibility for all aspects of their participation on an outing.
It is also important that you submit you permission forms, gather your gear, pack your bags, and personally conduct all communication specifically about the outing. Your safety and learning on the outing depend on your taking full responsibility for your experience, and that means effecting all preparations yourselves. Personal responsibility for oneself and one’s experience is a keystone of the MA Outings curriculum.
With that in mind, to sign up for an outing, obtain a permission form, provide all of the necessary information, and have the form signed by a parent or guardian. Outings permission forms may be obtained from one of three places: downloading it online, picking it up from the MA Outings office, or taking one from the MA Outings bulletin board in the MA Café.
It is equally important that you inform your parents of the outing you intend to experience, and for parents themselves to read both the catalog description and the permission form they must sign. It is critical that parents know what it is they are signing. The permission form requires parents to assume the risks inherent in the outing and to waive their legal right to hold Marin Academy accountable in the case of an injury or illness.
The permission form also provides space on the back to list medications and relevant medical conditions that could potentially impact your experience on the outing. It is important to fill this section out completely. In order to manage risk well, the Outings Leaders need to know what risks exist. Information divulged on the permission form is only for use by the leaders on the outing and perhaps by medical professionals in the event of an emergency.
Notification of Your Status
About two weeks before the outing departure date, students are notified via email by the leaders of the outing of their status.
If you find yourself close to the top of the waiting list, you should be standing by and ready to gear up if a spot opens up. Additionally, you are always invited to come by the Outings Office to check on your status at any time during the semester.
Gear for Outings
The MA Outings Program maintains a small selection of outdoor gear on loan for students for use on outings.
We have sleeping bags, backpacks, some rain gear and warm layers, and a good selection of technical gear for particular outings. There are some things we do not stock (thermal underwear, hiking boots, etc.), but the idea is that all students should be able to participate even if they do not own gear. Please request the gear you need in person or by email to the Outings Leaders or Outings Director. Most equipment (other than clothing) does not need to be washed before return.
Cancellations tend to complicate outings logistically, and as such they are discouraged in all but the most unavoidable of circumstances.
Illness, injury, or death in the family constitute a few acceptable reasons to cancel your participation on an outing. However, a change of heart, poor planning, or “My friend didn’t get on the outing so I don’t want to go either” are not good reasons for cancellation. Foresight, planning, and following through with your commitments are all part of MA Outings curriculum, as is stepping outside your comfort zone to learn new skills with people you don’t yet know.
If you absolutely cannot go on an outing you are signed up for, please talk to the Outings Director directly.
Fees for Outings
Most outings have a cost associated with participation, though several are run each semester at no cost.
We try hard to keep the cost as low as possible, but currently we pass on the expense of running the outing—food, fuel, permitting—on to the families. Leader fees are not passed on to families or factored into the cost of the outing; MA Outings pays its leaders from its annual budget. The cost of the outing per student is calculated by the outings leaders in concert with the Director of Outings and set before the catalog goes to press. The cost that families are charged does not fluctuate with the number of students on the outing.
Several outings every semester are run at no cost to the student or family; no student should be prevented from participation in an outing by cost. The no-cost outings are generally day trips to local areas—Mt Tam or Point Reyes—and they are an integral part of our overall offering.
Financial aid is available for outings for those families who qualify and at the same rate as they receive for tuition. To maintain confidentiality, requests for financial aid for outings are to be made directly to Trent Nutting. Financial aid adjustments are made through the business office at that time.
Families are charged for outings through the Business Office and the family’s incidental account after the outing’s return.
PE credit for qualifying outings is awarded by the Director of Outings and recorded in your athletic credit file.
Occasionally we get requests for either a late arrival on an outing or an early departure. Typically, a family asks to have a student picked up somewhere other than MA or to be able to retrieve a student early from an outing. As inconvenient as it may be, these are not requests we can accommodate. MA Outings places a high value on togetherness, community, and group dynamics. As such it is critical that all students begin the outing together and finish together with any group process that the leaders initiate. Late arrivals and early departures, while they may be convenient for families, undermine MA Outings curriculum.
Electronics/Cell Phones and Communications in the Field
Electronics, including cell phones, are not to be used while on an outing without specific permission of the outings leader.
Outings leaders do carry cell phones and sometimes a satellite phone, and there are times when a leader might ask a student to make a call home or elsewhere, but in general, outings are a time to unplug, check in, and connect with the people who are actually with you. No texts, calls, or emails will be received or sent while on an outing without permission of the leaders. iPods and MP3 players are subject to the same restrictions. Typically, during the return drive, students are given the opportunity to call home to announce their return.
If communication must be initiated in an emergency situation while students are in the field, parents should call Lynne Hansen, who can contact leaders and put parents in touch with students. The process may take some time, however, as some MA Outings go to course areas that are out of easy contact. Outings to remote locations are often equipped with a satellite phone to facilitate emergency communication when out of cell phone range. Even so, the satellite phone is for the outings leaders to contact help in an emergency and not for others to call in. Be advised: participants on outings are, for the most part, incommunicado for the duration of the outing, and that is part of the intent and design of the program.
Who Leads MA Outings
The MA Outings Program hires trained and experienced outdoor leaders to run its outings.
Every leader on an MA Outing has been vetted particularly by the Director of Outings, and a standard criminal history check through the Marin County Sheriff’s Office is required and recorded in the Business Office. This procedure is standard for anyone working with MA students.
Additionally, every MA Outings runs with a minimum of two leaders, one of whom must be Wilderness First Responder certified for outings in a wilderness context.
We have procedures and protocols for ensuring that we send appropriate adults out with MA students on outings, and we maintain very high standards for experience and training for staffing MA Outings.
Expectations for Behavior on Outings
MA Outings also has high standards for student behavior while on outings.
The following is our statement of expectations for student behavior. This set of standards in some form is always present in the tone-setting group processes that begin our outings.
We promote the following values on MA Outings:
Positive group dynamics
In supporting our values and to create the best possible environment in which to meet our goals, we expect all participants on outings to adhere to the following expectations for behavior:
Respect: Show respect for your leaders, your peers, and yourselves by treating yourself and others with honesty, consideration, kindness, and compassion.
Positive impact: Be aware of your impact and be intentional about it. Strive to have a positive impact on your group, on other groups, and on the environment.
Volunteerism: Expect to be involved in all group chores from setting up camp, cooking, washing dishes, and leaving no trace. And be the kind of person who volunteers help and to initiate what the group needs to get done.
Group consideration: For the duration of your outing, your group will be together and functioning as a team. Strive to make everyone feel valued, respected, and included. Look after each other, lend someone a hand when needed, and check in emotionally with each other.
The following MA Outings Policies also apply and are operative on all outings:
Under no circumstances are cell phones to be used at any time on the outing without the permission of your leaders. iPods, game consoles, and other diverting electronics are similarly forbidden without permission. Such electronic devices may be confiscated by your leaders. Do not leave your group for any reason without the permission of your leaders. All of the regular and usual MA Community Standards as described in the MA Handbook are operative on all outings.
The Outings Program publishes a catalog of our outings offerings at the beginning of each semester. It is first available at the Outings Assembly, which is always scheduled early in the semester and is printed in the planner. Shortly thereafter, the catalog is available online, on the Outings Office door on the circle in Thacher Hall, and on the Outings Bulletin Board in the MA Café. The catalog is the best place to learn about the outings that are offered. It lists dates, costs, and complete descriptions of all the outings.
In general, yes. The cost is published in the Outings Catalog ahead of time and it does not depend on the number of students on the trip. The trip cost covers food, fuel, and any other incidental expenses. We work to keep the costs as low as possible, and some trips every semester are listed as no cost trips. This is an effort to make MA Outings accessible on some level to all MA students. Also, need-based financial aid is available to qualifying families. Contact Evie Koh for more information on financial aid for outings.
The MA Outings Program keeps and maintains a small selection of outdoor gear to loan to students for use on outings. We have sleeping bags, backpacks, some rain gear and warm layers, and a good selection of technical gear for particular outings. There are some things we do not stock (thermal underwear, hiking boots, etc.), but the idea is for no student to be prevented from participation in an outing for lack of gear.
You should request the gear you need in person or by email directly to the Outings Leaders or Outings Director. Most equipment need not be washed before return, but clothing, including socks, gloves, hats, and warm layers need to be returned clean.