Field Trip FAQ

How do I schedule a field trip? 

All field trips must be scheduled through the Scheduling Coordinator Jennifer Latour. We recommend reserving your dates one year advance, but you may need to schedule up to two years in advance for peak dates. Vacancies during the currently-occurring school year are available but may be limited.  

How many students can I bring?

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Discovery Hall Programs' class sizes are limited to 35 students. Larger groups will be split into multiple classes and charged per class. We can accommodate a maximum of 140 students per day from all school groups. We ask that students be assigned to “Dauphin Island Sea Lab” class groups, which may differ from their classrooms at school, prior to arrival at the lab in order to save time and alleviate the confusion of organizing students when your class should be starting.

**DISL's educational facilities and programs are for the express use of your classroom students. Children not in your class are not permitted to attend.** 

What should students wear?

Students participating in field activities should wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather (rain jackets may be needed) and activity. Shoes should tie or strap on securely; sneakers that can get wet and muddy are best. Sandal-type shoes (Crocs©, Keens©, Tevas©, etc) are not permitted for field activities. Many students choose to bring rain boots for the marsh activity. This is strongly discouraged, as students will frequently be in water up to or past their knees, causing the boots to fill with water, get stuck, and easily slip off feet.

How many parents/chaperones can attend?

We recommend 1 chaperone for every 5 elementary students, 1 chaperone for every 7 middle school students, and 1 chaperone for every 10 high school-aged students. Due to limited space, adults exceeding this ratio may not be able to attend all activities and there may not be dorm space available. Allowances are made for students that require additional support or supervision.

Student/Chaperone Ratio:

               K5 -5th grade / 5 students: 1 adult
               6th -8th grade / 7 students: 1 adult
               9th -12th grade / 10 students: 1 adult

Is there housing on campus for my overnight field trip?

Yes! The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has two dormitories available for visiting groups to reserve. Each dorm can accommodate up to 86 people (40 on the first floor, 46 on the second), and each room sleeps two people. Two communal restrooms are located at either end of each floor. There is also a lounge/common room available for groups staying on the first floor of each dorm. Groups assigned to the second floors should not be permitted to roam the downstairs hallway or use the common room. You will need to bring your own linens/pillows/blankets for our twin size beds.  We would be happy to arrange the use of a classroom in the evenings if you would like somewhere for your group to gather.

Groups with 35 students or less will be assigned to one dorm floor. Groups with 36-70 students will have one entire dorm to themselves. Groups with more than 70 students will spill over to the second dorm, and depending on total numbers, may or may not be sharing the second dorm with another group. Groups will never be asked to share a floor with another school group.

Is there a cafeteria on campus?

Yes! The Dauphin Island Sea Lab has a full-service cafeteria for overnight groups or day groups wishing to include lunch in their trip. Meals are served buffet-style with a variety of entrées and side items available and full salad bar with lunch and dinner. Special dietary needs can be accommodated with advanced notice. A minimum of 20 people is required to open the cafeteria for meals. If your group is the only one on campus, has less than 20 participants, and wishes to eat in the cafeteria, you will be charged for 20 people per meal.

How many participants can I bring on a boat trip?

Maximum capacity for the vessel trip is 37. With a full class group of 35 students, this means only two teachers or chaperones can also attend. These restrictions are set by the Coast Guard and cannot be waived. If you have an unusually large number of parents who wish to participate in the vessel trip, we suggest scheduling two trips to accommodate all members of your group. Middle and high school students (grades 7-12) can take the 4-hour trip or split larger groups into two 2-hour trips, while 5th and 6th-grade students can take the 2-hour trip.

What is the timeline for reserving and planning a field trip? 

Peak dates during the school year may require a one to two-year reservation before your desired date. However, there are vacancies throughout the academic year. Call to book your trip, reserve dorm, and cafeteria space if needed, and pay a trip deposit. Two months before the trip: send in pre-trip paperwork, including dorm and cafeteria forms if needed, and provide an estimate of participant numbers. One week before the trip: finalize participant numbers, send in dorm assignments if applicable. Day of arrival: check-in with Scheduling Coordinator. Remember to allow adequate time to move into dorms or sort students into Dauphin Island Sea Lab class groups before your first scheduled activity. Overnight groups will follow the schedule sent prior to arrival on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab campus.