Author Topic: $400 for two day field trip  (Read 1333 times)

Poundwise

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$400 for two day field trip
« on: October 05, 2017, 08:01:34 AM »
So my eldest son's middle school just sent home permission slip and request for $400 for an overnight trip to Boston. We would have to register within 10 days to receive $25 off for "early bird" pricing.

Needless to say, he wants to go. Needless to say, I don't want to pay.

Reasons to go
- He was born in Boston and spent his early life there, has friends and family there, loves the city
- They would be touring some places and doing some things (duck boat) we haven't done there
- It's a lot of fun & a bonding experience to go with your friends on an overnight trip
- He's a social kid who suffers a little from feeling like an outsider because we used to move around so much. He's still feeling bad because he had an injury and got cut from his sports team this year. Now all his school friends go to practice without him.
- He gets to show off a little to his school friends for once.  Because of our Mustachian ways, we live poorer than most and his friends find our house boring (no pool, no game system).

Reasons not to go
- We go to Boston about twice a year already.  He could stay overnight with one of his old friends and do the same tours for less than $100

Suggestions? I am thinking about options like splitting costs with him or perhaps offering him $200, which he could pocket, use towards his school trip, or perhaps use on a trip to see his Boston friends (they are always happy to have him over as we frequently host them when they come to see NYC). Or just pony up and stop being cheap for once?
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 08:53:49 AM by Poundwise »

PoutineLover

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2017, 08:04:52 AM »
School trips are really good experiences that don't feel the same as family vacations. If you have the money and it wouldn't be a hardship to pay for it, I'd say do it. If he has some money of his own, it would also be fair to ask him to contribute, or to provide his own spending money for the trip. I got to go to New York with my Jazz band in high school, and it was an incredibly fun experience that made lasting memories for me.

wordnerd

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2017, 08:49:14 AM »
I like the idea of asking him to contribute toward the trip, assuming there is enough time for a pre-teen to make a couple hundred bucks before the trip. It's a good season raking lawns. :) I agree that you should let him go, either way though, given what you wrote about some social challenges he's had. I had to not go on an overnight trip in middle school because my parents didn't have the money, and I got asked for months why I didn't go. It's tough for a kid at that age.
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Laura33

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2017, 12:40:52 PM »
GAH.  I HATE school events that assume that everyone has hundreds of dollars to throw at "educational experiences."  It makes me irrationally angry.  DD came home with a flyer for a spring break Spanish trip that was basically $3500 to fly to Central America, packaged as an "educational" experience.  I told her that if I wanted to spend that much money on a trip, I was damn sure going to be the one lying on the beach, not her.

But, damn, actual school trips involving kids with social issues is totally my weak spot.  I was that awkward kid, and my mom was poor and couldn't send me on stuff like that, and that just set me apart further.  A big part of the reason I have worked and saved for the past 25 years is to give my kids better opportunities than I had; I mean, they're still my kids, so they're genetically doomed to a certain amount of weirdness :-), but I want them to be able to afford a little protective coloration so they feel like they fit in a little better. 

So if I were in your place, I would likely rant and rave and complain to the school.  And then I would suck it up and send him, precisely because of those social issues -- it is an emotional thing for me, not a rational, Mustachian decision.  Although I do like the idea of splitting the cost with him; you can offer to "match" whatever he earns toward the trip, which could be a good way to test how much he really wants to go.
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Mrs. Fire Lane

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2017, 01:12:07 PM »
My high school had one or two trips abroad per year that anyone could sign up for. They were promoted by the English, Spanish, French and Italian departments (depending on what country was being visited!)

I really wanted to go, but it was about $2000 (in 1999) and my parents could not afford it. They told me to get a summer job and save as much as possible and they would pay the rest. So the summer after my Junior year I got a part time job as a hostess in a diner, and probably earned about half. I was also taking drivers ed and music classes (free to public school students). It was the hardest I ever worked in the summer, but I loved it. And the trip to London and Paris was AMAZING. I hate to be that gal, but I think I appreciated it more than my friends whose parents just paid for it outright.

If there's a way your son could earn the money, (chores? yard work for neighbors?) I think it would be really good for him.

Chesleygirl

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2017, 02:28:26 PM »
If he's already been to Boston, it sounds like he wouldn't be terribly interested in the trip anyway?

I missed a school field trip to our state capitol when I was a kid; I didn't get a chance to go and tour the state capitol until fifteen years later. So I do feel that I missed out on an educational opportunity. But some kids want to go for social reasons, like their other friends are going on the trip also.

Poundwise

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 04:38:42 PM »
I'm sure my son's interest in this trip is mostly social. Apparently they get to "choose whatever restaurant they want for lunch" (code for, lunch not included) so my son was excited to bring his friends to a place he likes.  I am annoyed that the trip is so expensive... we can afford it, but in my mind it is not a good value... apparently some tour group is in charge of it, instead of the old fashioned parent/teacher chaperones on a bus. I should find out who organized it.

Thank you for all your thoughtful advice!  I guess I will see if his friends are actually going, and if so,  sign him up. But I will ask him to cover some of it, maybe $100.  He has a snow shoveling gig for a neighbor lined up, but I will encourage him to do some leaf raking as well.

galliver

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2017, 04:47:58 PM »
I think there's a difference between not going on the thousands-of-$ international trips where only a handful of kids go, and not going on a <$1k school trip where only a handful of kids don't go. I've never been on the former; my international travel was limited to going to see my grandparents in our home country. It never really bothered me. But not going on either of the two week-long "science school" field trips would have been hard...and I had to seriously consider that possibility on the 8th grade trip, as it was more of a financial stretch...and the argument that I've been to [park] was definitely made...but ultimately, they made it work and I'm still grateful they did. It was an excellent bonding experience with my classmates and teachers, a taste of independence, and an all-around different experience than going to [park] camping with family. It's really not that much about the location (as long as the kid *wants* to go).

Cranky

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 06:54:37 PM »
My class goes on an overnight science/nature camp experience every year. (It's a 2 year class, and one year it's a 4 day camp run by a national park and the next year it's just 2 days, but it's an island, which is fun.)

They are educational, but they point really is about the bonding and being away from home without your family, and the kids have a terrific time. They also earn all the money for it over the course of the year.

Anyway, I'd ask if there were fundraising opportunities for the kids, and I would complain to the school about the cost because I think that's a lot for just an overnight trip, but ultimately, I'd pay up and send him.

human

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 07:37:18 PM »
Keep him home for all school trips so he can constantly hear how he missed out every time his friends come back and tell him about all the awesome stuff they did. That'll teach him the importance of frugality.

calimom

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2017, 08:16:30 PM »
A few years back, my 15 year old stepdaughter came to me with a request to participate in a field trip to a Shakespeare Festival for several days. They'd take a coach, stay in a hotel, and see 4 plays - some Shakespeare, some not. Most of her friends in drama club were going. The cost,  I clearly remember, was $475. I couldn't really afford it. I'd just realized my house was underwater, there had been an expensive electrical fix. My car had just require new brakes. I'd made several risky/hopeful investments in rental property and a small business and wasn't yet reaping any benefits; I was in the hole each month, on top of pre-ACA health insurance premiums and Montessori for my toddler. I was skating by on my kids' Social Security and hadn't yet received the insurance money from my late husband's car wreck.

But I said yes. With no strings, no caveat about paying me back or earning half the money to "prove she really wanted it". She did want it, and she'd been so great and so helpful with the little kids, not really asking for much, so it seemed a small thing to hope for in this life.
And she loved it. For days/weeks afterward she talked about the plays, the writing, the actors and the bonding with her classmates. I juggled expenses for the next month or so, putting more on my credit card than I was comfortable with and felt the $475 (plus the $80 or so in cash I gave her for spending money) was well worth it. Several years later, when money was not so tight, I helped finance a semester abroad in Florence for her - this time she did come up with part of the money, and her grandmother, uncle and I all kicked in a not-inconsiderable amount that her otherwise full scholarship did not cover.

What's the deal with the $200? Either you say yes, or you say no. No games, no teachable moments. If you can afford it, and it's a worthwhile experience your son will benefit from, why not?

Goldielocks

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 09:33:00 PM »
A couple of years ago, my son, who was in grade 7 at the time, came home with the form for the spring class field / science trip.

This was always a celebration / education trip for the kids going to high school (which starts in grade 8 here).  It was 2 nights, a bus, and 2 "days" at a local outdoor camp.  Included archery, educational activities, food, sleeping in cabins.

It was $600.    The reason it was so expensive was that they were booking a large camp exclusively for only 50 kids, and paying for others to lead all the education / activity sessions, despite paid teachers going with them.   Previous years (where teachers did more of the teaching and group bookings) it was only $320.    I think I and about 15 other parents complained out of 50 kids, and they cancelled it.   

 In contrast, in grade 9, I did pay $1000 for him to go to NZ with cadets for 18 days, where they had planned a lot of activities and he did a lot of extra work and fundraising.   That was a lifetime memory.

Laura33

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2017, 05:59:19 AM »
What's the deal with the $200? Either you say yes, or you say no. No games, no teachable moments. If you can afford it, and it's a worthwhile experience your son will benefit from, why not?

Well, obviously, YMMV.  But my kid is a giant rolling ball of want -- every week, there's another spendy thing that she just has to have or she'll just die.*  So I do the "work for it" as a way to judge exactly how much she actually cares.  Plus, frankly, some opportunities are more special/unique than others -- a once-in-a-lifetime Shakespeare trip sounds much more special to me than a school trip to a place that I used to live and still visit all the time. 

In sum, my kids (and their schools) seem to be happy to expand their "needs" to suck up as much of my discretionary income as I am willing to give.  I have to draw the line somewhere, and my kids' willingness to have skin in the game helps me figure out where that line should be.

*Yeah, slightly exaggerated.  But, gah, the drama. . . .
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aperture

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2017, 06:19:50 AM »
We are faced with similar decision this week with my 8th grader.  There is a Spring trip to Gettysburg that will cost ~$1000.  Last year we declined the $4,000 one-week trip to Barcelona and explained that for the same money our entire family of 4 could go to Barcelona. This time around, I joked with my DD that I would be happy to take her on a multi-week car trip next summer to visit every Civil War battlefield between here and Gettysburg.  Of course she rolled her eyes. 

My DW and I discussed it.  We both had amazing experiences in High School of travel with peers and want our kids to have that experience.  On the other hand, my DD is youngest in her class and has some anxiety that has been making life a little tough.  As suggested here, we decided that we would pay 1/2 of the price and she could use her carefully saved birthday/Christmas money and whatever she earns to pay her share if she really wants to go.  She is not 100% on fire to participate now, and is more carefully considering whether this is what she wants to do (which is a great outcome from my perspective of asking her to pony up 1/2 the cost).  I think she will go only if her closest friends are going.  That is also good because there is quite a bit of cliquishness at her school and I would hate for her to go on a trip and be odd-girl out. 

BTW - instead of doing Barcelona, all four of us did a 3-week trip last summer to a Spanish speaking country for 1/2 the cost. [rant] I think the trips to Europe that are organized by for profit companies (and team sports organized by for profits and etc.) are COMPLETE BULLSHIT and have co-opted our communities to make a buck.  [/endrant]

Jenny1974

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2017, 06:23:10 AM »
While $400 is a bit excessive, I would allow him to go assuming I have the money.  School trips are a great experience and some of my best memories of school are traveling with my classmates.

Stachetastic

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2017, 08:11:14 AM »
I also have great memories of school trips I went on. I always stressed about how my family was going to pay for them, but I contributed a lot and my generous grandparents funded quite a bit.

My son is only in kindergarten, so we have not encountered this stage yet. However, because he is on the Autism spectrum and struggles with social interactions, we have decided we will send him on as many of these trips as he is up for. It is important to us that he feels part of the group, so we will cut back on other expenditures to make this happen. Sometimes the kids that opt out of these activities are ostracized a bit for it. If I had a typical child, I'm not sure I would feel so strongly.

elaine amj

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2017, 08:38:38 AM »
It's a tough decision and I have also struggled with it. Not so much for school trips though...our schools have kept those very affordable and I've always said an immediate yes. I do think they're generally more expensive than what I can do on my own but the bonding experiences are invaluable. I have incredible memories of my own (short) school trips.

We'd love for my DD to go on an international field trip with her school (a group of kids go somewhere exotic every year). But $3k per person makes me gulp. We've also considered international exchanges. We've been a host family for 8 years now, hosting a Japanese student for 2 weeks every summer. My DD would be interested in doing something like that. But frankly, the price stops me every time.

Another thing I would love is to send my kids to summer camp. At least for a week. But the costs just have me gasping and other than one summer camp they did when they were little (and it was an affordable $200/pp/week), I haven't been able to stomach to $400-600/pp costs since. They're 16 and 14 now and time is slipping away quickly for me to provide those experiences. Then again, DD got to do an overnight to Niagara Falls and Toronto last year with her job and even got paid for it. We definitely scored!

It's a difficult decision. I HATE spending more money than something is "worth". I can take all of us somewhere exotic and fun for $3000. On top of that, my DH much prefers spending the money on all of us and family memories than sending the kids off to do something.

Still, I'd probably suck it up and send your kid for $400, if only for the social benefits alone.

Poundwise

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2017, 09:17:54 AM »
What's the deal with the $200? Either you say yes, or you say no. No games, no teachable moments. If you can afford it, and it's a worthwhile experience your son will benefit from, why not?

Well, obviously, YMMV.  But my kid is a giant rolling ball of want -- every week, there's another spendy thing that she just has to have or she'll just die.*  So I do the "work for it" as a way to judge exactly how much she actually cares.  Plus, frankly, some opportunities are more special/unique than others -- a once-in-a-lifetime Shakespeare trip sounds much more special to me than a school trip to a place that I used to live and still visit all the time. 

In sum, my kids (and their schools) seem to be happy to expand their "needs" to suck up as much of my discretionary income as I am willing to give.  I have to draw the line somewhere, and my kids' willingness to have skin in the game helps me figure out where that line should be.

*Yeah, slightly exaggerated.  But, gah, the drama. . . .

Laura, we are in the same place! 

Calimom, I neglected to put as "Cons" in my points list up top:
- Eldest son is the most needy and high-maintenance of my kids & loves the high life (fancy food, nice clothes, fancy hotels).  He could do with more teachable moments but of course I don't want them to backfire.
- We already spend lots on him... didn't post in the other thread about activities but we are shelling out thousands for club sports and music lessons. 
- $400 is still significant in our budget. It could be used for many other little luxuries that would benefit all, such as a museum membership, a season ski pass, two nights hotel stay for entire family, etc.

As a contrast, he's going with his church youth group to Houston for a week in the summer... they will have a great time and also volunteer to help with hurricane recovery. That's a trip I would consider worthy... we've been fundraising for 3 years (trip was planned before hurricane) and will also be paying an unknown amount (probably up to $1000) to cover the difference.  Some parents are going as chaperones.  I think that trip will be a much more worthwhile experience than just touring a city he knows well. 

Basically, if his friends are going to Boston, he will go too, heavily subsidized by the bank of Mom and Dad. But I can still be grouchy about having to cover an unexpected cost in my budget. $250 would have been okay but $400 is a bit rich. Also, if my son had never been to Boston before or if he was going to have some unique opportunity, I would also be happier. As it is-- grrrr!
« Last Edit: October 06, 2017, 09:19:30 AM by Poundwise »

Poundwise

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2017, 09:21:10 AM »
BTW - instead of doing Barcelona, all four of us did a 3-week trip last summer to a Spanish speaking country for 1/2 the cost. [rant] I think the trips to Europe that are organized by for profit companies (and team sports organized by for profits and etc.) are COMPLETE BULLSHIT and have co-opted our communities to make a buck.  [/endrant]

Good for you!! I am so with you on calling this for-profit tour BS for what it is.

Goldielocks

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2017, 07:00:49 PM »
With your son, one thing I did was tell the kids that I had up to $XX set aside each year for school fees and activities.   If the boston trip were to take most of that, I would let my DS know that this meant no sailing daycamp in the following summer unless he has funds to cover the gap.   

firelight

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2017, 08:23:02 AM »
With your son, one thing I did was tell the kids that I had up to $XX set aside each year for school fees and activities.   If the boston trip were to take most of that, I would let my DS know that this meant no sailing daycamp in the following summer unless he has funds to cover the gap.
I like this idea. I'm not there yet (preschooler and baby ATM) but telling them I have a lump sum and letting them plan it out (with payouts if there is money left at the end) would be a great way to teach budgeting and delayed gratification.... not to mention testing how much they really want it.

Poundwise

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2017, 08:51:27 AM »
With your son, one thing I did was tell the kids that I had up to $XX set aside each year for school fees and activities.   If the boston trip were to take most of that, I would let my DS know that this meant no sailing daycamp in the following summer unless he has funds to cover the gap.

Thank you!  This is good advice. I allocate $400/month for "enrichment" shared out among all kids, but in reality I spend no enrichment money on my youngest, a little on my middle, and almost all for my oldest. I think if I were to give the kids dollar amounts, I would have to equalize those numbers a bit. 

Goldielocks

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Re: $400 for two day field trip
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2017, 11:24:13 AM »
With your son, one thing I did was tell the kids that I had up to $XX set aside each year for school fees and activities.   If the boston trip were to take most of that, I would let my DS know that this meant no sailing daycamp in the following summer unless he has funds to cover the gap.

Thank you!  This is good advice. I allocate $400/month for "enrichment" shared out among all kids, but in reality I spend no enrichment money on my youngest, a little on my middle, and almost all for my oldest. I think if I were to give the kids dollar amounts, I would have to equalize those numbers a bit.
Yeah, my kids are only 14 mos apart and even so, the eldest wanted zero activities once she turned 14.. so she got contacts lens at 15, that I paid for, and gets more cash in hand for clothes, and an expensive grad. dress last year, but I clearly state why to both as I do so.    Perhaps the best part is that I did not increase the amounts allocated in the past 6 years... so its gets cheaper as they age.