This year I decided to take it a step further and have the students create their own personalised gear lists. I'd been fielding emails for about a week for "when would I be handing out the gear list and many day-to-day requests from the students:
"When are we getting our gear lists?"
"Mum wants to know what I need to take on camp."
One afternoon I walked into class with a pristine pile of photocopying and made the announcement that today was the day they could take home their gear list. And I handed out this:
"Are you kidding me?!"
And I heard one of the more intuitive members of the class mumble to his friends,
"Oh god, she's gonna make us think..."
On the wall I placed some additional information, for example:
- We are away for 4 nights and 5 days
- We will be doing activities such as abseiling, swimming, walking and go-carting
- The beds only have a mattress
- We will all be living together so please ensure you and your teeth are clean (okay, I admit that I loaded that one)
Some of them got straight to it and knew exactly how to deal with this situation. Others just looked at me in disbelief. One of the boys asked me why I was doing this. I explained that not everyone will need the same things. I showed him a gear list from another school and pointed out that not all children would have two woolen jerseys and that I did not want their families to feel like they had to buy everything on the list.
The next day one of the boys came to me rather upset and said that his mother had told him that it was illegal if i didn't provide him with a 'proper' gear list.
To ensure that I hadn't taken things a step too far, I dedicated a session to checking our gear lists and making sure that everyone was feeling okay. I even showed them the other school's gear list so that they could add anything that they may have forgotten. Interestingly it became a great exercise in critical thinking as they poo-pooed some of the items on the other list stating that their lists were far superior.
I could tell though that it was still killing some of them inside and that they really wanted to be provided with a 'proper typed' list. One morning I came into the class and found one of the boys (who was very disturbed by the gear-list process) writing on the wall chart:
Don't forget to pack extra socks...
Probably a very good point.