by Elizabeth Wickham
Not every team offers travel trips, but if yours does, your kids will benefit from them. Team travel means swimmers travel to a meet or other activity that is planned or supervised by the team or LSC—without mom and dad driving and staying with their kids. Reasons why teams don’t go on travel trips include not enough swimmers, liability, responsibility or cost.
If you do have a team that travels together, your coach may have age and attendance requirements, plus there may be meet standards your children need to achieve before being invited on a trip.
USA Swimming offers guidelines that include “club travel policies must be signed and agreed to by all athletes, parents, coaches and other adults traveling with the club” and “Team managers and chaperones must be members of USA Swimming and have successfully passed a USA Swimming-administered criminal background check.” The model policy can be found here.
Here are eight things our kids may learn and enjoy by going on travel trips:
Focus on fun.
As much as our kids love hanging out with us, they may discover that traveling with their teammates can be just as much or more fun than staying in a hotel with mom and dad.
Preparation for the years ahead.
When swimmers make a trip sponsored by their LSC, like to Zones or a USA Swimming meet such as Pan Pacs, they’ll be traveling with their team—not mom and dad. If they choose to swim in college, their years will be filled with memorable travel trips.
A travel trip gives our kids a sense of freedom, independence and confidence. Yes, they’ll be supervised and watched by coaches and chaperones, but we won’t be around to tell them what to eat and when to go to bed. Independence is necessary for our kids to make the transition into college and adulthood.
Our kids will learn from competing in a new environment and setting. If they miss an event, because we’re not there to remind them, they’ll learn. Maybe they forgot to drink enough water, or didn’t choose the right foods. It’s all a learning experience. If they come up against something unexpected like a ripped cap or suit, they’ll have to problem solve or ask for help.
Travel trips provide time for teammates to grow closer. Our kids may need to rely on their teammates for help if they need it. They’ll learn firsthand about teamwork, which will help them in college and in their future careers.
It’s doubtful a coach or chaperone will be as understanding as mom if the entire team has to wait on them to board the bus. They’ll be given a schedule and will learn the importance of being on time.
A travel trip will teach our kids to keep track of their things, like towels, suits and goggles. They will also be responsible to act appropriately and follow the team’s rules and code of ethics.
Getting outside their comfort zone.
Our kids all have different experiences and personalities. Some kids may love to try new things while others are hesitant and prefer things the same. A travel trip removes them from what they’re used to. They may discover it’s kind of fun to get out of their comfort zones.
Why do you think travel trips are a good experience for our kids?
Thanks to Coach Michael Cody, Trident Swim Club, Rowland Heights, CA for the idea for this article.
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.