The Outdoor Campus - East

General information about your visit

Health form
Before attending TOC, double check to be sure that all of your students have a treatment authorization form on file at your school. Each student is required to have one on file. They need to be accessible, so in the rare case of an emergency, the personnel at TOC will have permission to treat the individual involved.

Please bring along an adult chaperone for each 10 students, in addition to yourself. Below you will find information titled Role of Chaperones. Please share this with the adults that have agreed to accompany your class to TOC.

Parent information
Inform parents of the trip to TOC. We have included a sample letter for parents in the appendix. The letter informs them of their student's upcoming trip, and also includes a section on what to wear to TOC programs. (See next section on proper clothing.)

Proper clothing
As our name implies, The Outdoor Campus is a place where learning takes place mostly outdoors. Participants must be made aware that dressing properly is one of the best things they can do to help insure a positive experience. Being cold and or wet, and worrying about getting dirty distracts from the experience. To avoid this, ALL PARTICIPANTS, students, teachers and chaperones should dress for the occasion. Please share this information with everyone in your group.

If a student comes to a program conducted by TOC staff and is not dressed appropriately, they will be kept inside under teacher supervision. For all-day programs, a student not dressed appropriately will not be allowed to participate. We would ask that teachers help make this decision before the student gets on the bus for the trip to TOC.

Provide all participants with name tags, if possible.

Dressing for a visit to The Outdoor Campus for Students, Teachers, & Chaperones

  • Winter Boots with no heel, insulated (i.e., snow boots, moon boots, snowmobile boots, sorrels). At least two pair of socks, preferably one of them wool. Snowmobile suit, insulated pants or coveralls, or long underwear with normal weight pants. Hat that covers ears. Scarf. Mittens or insulated gloves. No exposed skin on lower legs/ankles. Minimum two layers (i.e., turtleneck shirt and sweater) with insulated jacket.
  • Early Spring - Late Fall Dress as for winter: these damp days can feel colder than expected and are prime times for hypothermia. Boots are usually a must.
  • Late Spring - Summer - Early Fall Clothes appropriate for the weather. Sunscreen and insect repellent at your discretion. Footwear with no heel, good tread, and good support. If you will be involved in outdoor cooking activities, do not wear sandals.
  • Misc. Waterproof outerwear for days that threaten drizzle/ rain. Windbreakers for chilly, windy days. Always leave "Sunday best" at home. Children and Teachers/Chaperones should not wear new or special clothing that they would not wish to soil.

Special Needs
All of our trails are ADA accessible. However, many of our activities may take place off of the trails. Please let us know of any special needs your group may have. We will do our best to fully accommodate all of your participants.

Please notify us of any other special needs (i.e., medical conditions, allergies, behavioral concerns, communication barriers, etc.)

Expectations of participants
Any continued disruptive behavior that affects the quality of the experience for the other kids is unacceptable, as is any activity that is destructive to the grounds. Although these cases are rare, should they occur, they will be reported to the student's teacher.

Inclement weather
TOC programs will go on rain or shine. If programs are scheduled for outside, indoor activities will be substituted. All-day programs with large numbers of participants will be canceled in the event of severe weather. Every attempt at rescheduling these programs will be made.

For winter programs we will substitute indoor activities for the lower grades when the wind chill is below -10o. For the older grades the activities will be adapted to the conditions until the wind chill reaches -25o.

Independent field trips are up to the teacher. If the weather does not allow you to be outside, do not count on room being available indoors at TOC for your group. TOC programs have priority for this space.

Medical Emergencies
All TOC professional staff have up-to-date certification in standard first aid and CPR for children and adults. In the event that TOC staff determines immediate medical assistance is required, an ambulance will be called to the scene.

If medical attention is required on a non-emergency basis, TOC staff will:

  • Recommend that the teacher follow normal school procedures regarding ill / injured students.
  • Ask a teacher or accompanying adult to take the individual to get medical treatment. TOC cannot provide transportation in a state vehicle to anyone not employed by the State of South Dakota.

Students will need to bring their own lunch. Due to the high volume of visitors, we do not provide indoor eating spaces for groups. The Sertoma Science Playground and picnic shelter is across the parking lot and provides a good setting for a meal. It may be a good idea to call the City Parks and Recreation Department to reserve space in the picnic shelter for your group. The phone number is 605.367.7060. During the winter months, when the weather is not conducive to picnics, you will have to make arrangements for off campus lunches.

Role of Chaperones

Thank you for volunteering to be a chaperone for the field trip to The Outdoor Campus! Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to chaperone your group's field trip!

Provide Encouragement!
TOC staff and volunteers will always offer encouragement to children participating in a program. Group leaders and chaperones can add their enthusiasm and support to children, too, especially during the outdoor portions of the program where students may be working individually or in pairs.

Participate in Activities!
We expect that all chaperones will participate in the activities with the youth. Depending on the program, that may include fishing, nature study, nature games, or hikes. Please limit any conversation among adults in the back of the group, as it provides a distraction and is a cue for children that their complete attention is not required.

Remember - You are a Role Model!
Your reactions are also important. At TOC, we want to develop positive attitudes towards the outdoors and all living creatures (including spiders, insects, snakes, etc.). It is essential that chaperones portray positive reactions to these animals, or at the very least do not exhibit a negative response.

Help Supervise
We ask that chaperones disperse themselves throughout the group, and let the TOC staff member know of any unsafe behavior. Group leaders and chaperones are responsible for supervision of group behavior and group safety before and after a program. TOC staff will manage the group during the program. In rare instances where TOC staff determine that a child's behavior is having an unresolvable negative impact on the experience for the rest of the group, they may request that the leader/chaperone supervise the child in an area separate from the rest of the group for a portion of the program.

Please - No Coaching!
Chaperones are asked to resist the temptation to "coach" the kids by whispering an answer in a child's ear. (Yes, it's common!) Many of the Naturalist's questions are meant to challenge the children, and an immediate answer is not expected nor sought. Thanks!

If you are driving, please obey the posted speed limit of 15 mph after entering the park.
Our trails border the road, and many children use them. School groups have been pulled over and cited by the police for violating the park speed limit!

Dress appropriately!
Wear old clothes and sneakers/boots. You may need a raincoat