Temperatures are getting warmer. Regardless of the cause, are your site preparations changing in accordance with higher temperatures and new weather considerations? We cover simple and practical considerations if your students engage in outdoor experiential education.
Experiential education, by design, has students off campus and engaged in our communities. Higher temperatures naturally cause many to look for indoor service opportunities to beat the hear. But, something is often lost when outdoor service opportunities are removed from experiential education. Let's talk about a few simple steps to keep your students safe and experiencing all the experiences!
High Quality H20
You heard if from your teachers and now it's our turn to emphasize the need to hydrate. The Texas Department of Public Safety offers guidance on hydrating before, during and after exercise. As it turns out, Texans know a thing or two about hot weather! Not all volunteers will have the same needs as an exercise routine but experiential education means being an active part of the experience so these guidelines are often helpful.
The value of shade might not be what you think! It turns out, the air temperature in the shade is exactly the same temperature as in the sun. But shade does keep the suns rays from warming up your skin which often leads to sunburn. As temperatures rise, consider if a pop up awning would benefit your service program. They are very easy to set up, take down and store.
Here Comes the Sun...Protection
Being in the sun is nearly unavoidable. It is important service administrators help students plan for the sun knowing they may be more focused on their math test today than on their outing tomorrow. Administrators can also plan ahead by visiting the service site beforehand or calling ahead to ask key questions about sun exposure. Empowered with that information, the American Academy of Dermatology Association offers multiple ways to protect students from the sun including:
- Wear Sun Protective Clothing
- Apply Sunscreen
- Seek Shade
Refine Experiential Education Duration or Scope
The typical service event lasts between 2.5 and 4 hours. Lower temperatures in the past mean students could often operate at a service site longer. This may be the time to re-evaluate the duration or the scope of your experiential education opportunities. For example, consider if a four hour service project could be broken up into two shifts of two hours. This approach involves more students for a shorter period of time allowing allo students the benefit of experiential education while lessening the impact of the elements.
Communicate - Rain or Shine
When rain does come, it often comes quickly. It is important to have a clear understanding of who is attending your experiential education event and maintain open communication. Using dedicated service event management is the most effective way to have current rosters and communicate with attendees with ease. If rain is in the forecast, one click is all you need to contact attendees to bring their raincoat.
If you spend enough time outdoors, a mosquito will find you! Heavier rains mean more puddles which are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If it isn't mosquitos, many of you in Southern states know first hand how fire ants got their name. It is important to prepare for as many of these scenarios as possible. Despite the heat, it may be better for students to wear breathable long pants rather than shorts. It may also be good to wear long sock which can be sprayed with bug repellent.
Just as we all make small adjustments to help climate change, simple adjustments can make a big difference for students dealing with the impact of climate change during experiential education. Do you have ways your students are beating the heat? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.