Every year when we walk the Camino in April or May, we run into lots of Spanish schools walking the Camino together. As a former teacher in Spain, I was reminded of this when one of my students sent me a picture of themselves walking the Camino with my old school. Walking the Camino as a school is a great idea!
Students have a lot of fun, they motivate each other along the way and they’re able to disengage from the stress and pressure of the day to day.
When taking a school group to the Camino, it’s important to honor the tradition of the Camino and give the students the most authentic experience possible. As a retired teacher (20 yrs teaching!), I know how impressionable young people are and what an impact the Camino can have on their lives.
Be safe out there
The Camino, and Spain in general, is a very safe place. Spanish kids have a freedom and independence that is reminiscent of the USA 60 years ago. Kids play in the park unsupervised, take public transportation to school alone, and are often at restaurants or out with their friends until very late at night. So when walking the Camino we allow students to walk in groups by themselves. Walking this way gives the students the opportunity to experience the Camino authentically and as it has historically been.
We always have a guide nearby, we have checkpoints along the way for students to check in and get a snack or take a break, and we have clothing that allow us to quickly identify our group.
Taste new foods
Food is important too. Other school groups arrange with hotels or restaurants to have “kid-friendly” buffets prepared for them. In Spain, this consists of chicken nuggets, french fries, sausages, and spaghetti. But for us, the Camino apart from the walking, is a culinary and cultural adventure. We take students to local restaurants and have them try local food. While not everyone is adventurous in nature, it’s surprising and delightful to see students enjoy and try octopus for the first time.
Have loads of fun
Sleeping arrangements on the Camino for school groups are unique. We always stay in accommodations that are clean and on the Camino, but with schools we like upscale private albergues as opposed to boutique hotels. Private albergues generally have rooms accommodating 4-6 people, most have bunk beds, and the students just love them! After walking 19km you’d think they would be exhausted and go right to bed, but I think the excitement and fun of the Camino is energizing!