Students Travel to Charleston, South Carolina to Learn About Revolutionary War Battle of 1776 and the Siege of 1780

by Howard Clemens

Charleston, South Carolina has a rich history, beginning in the Revolutionary War era and pre-dating it. The Ashley and Cooper Rivers converge to create an inland harbor, making it one of the most prosperous and perfectly formed and located port cities in Early America. Seen as a ‘crown jewel’ city by the British Navy, Charleston was attacked twice in the Revolutionary War: once in 1776, when it was defended by General Moultrie successfully, and again in 1780, when the main peninsula and harbor were commandeered by the British and no ships besides theirs were allowed into port.

Students of history and social studies and even military history can learn much through the active study of Charleston. Since its inception in 1670, Charleston has always been a strategic coastal settlement and bustling port city – and remains so to this day.

While the army of Patriots in the North fought off the British and dealt with traitors (Tories) and espionage, the South was also faced with inconstancy in allegiances. In Georgia, prosperous landowners and businessman aligned with the British, so the state was easily taken over by the British. Some of these sentiments spread to the landowning class in South Carolina. In South Carolina the entire population was not so easily converted to ‘Tories,’ especially in the upstate, the rural areas and the backcountry, where resistance to British rule was strong. So the Revolutionary War resembled a civil war in the South because these open alliances with the British divided families, neighborhoods and towns.

1776: Charleston is Bombarded & Defended During Revolutionary War
The first shots of the American Revolution may have been heard in Massachusetts – but they also resounded in the south in Charleston’s harbor on June 28, 1776. With some foresight, Americans built fortifications at Sullivan’s Island, which sits at the mouth of the harbor. An assault force of nearly 3,000 British soldiers and seaman were repelled by Patriot General Charles Lee in 1776, protecting the city from harm. By engaging the British forces here, the Patriots were able to save Charleston from falling. This important first battle for Charleston encouraged many to join the Patriots and fight for a new united country.

1780: Charleston Under Siege and Occupation
Recalling the battle of 1780, when the British once again attempted to lay siege to Charleston, is a far darker episode in the Revolutionary War. Overwhelmed by the nearly 10,000 British troops in the harbor – the Patriots fought valiantly. The second time the British Naval forces entered the Charleston harbor, they passed Sullivan’s Island and laid siege upon the City. The British successfully captured the Peninsula and the entire city of Charleston fell into British hands on May 12, 1780. Over 5,000 Patriot soldiers were imprisoned and British troops occupied Charleston until the Revolutionary War concluded. Over a year later, the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781 would free Charleston’s occupants from British rule and captivity.

Knowing the history of Charleston’s struggle with Patriotism, it’s no wonder the movie, The Patriot, was filmed in Charleston and in some of its historic homes and estates. Some sites student groups will want to tour include Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter, the Heyward-Washington House and Middleton Place House Museum. All of these sites date to the Revolutionary War era.

Trip leaders may want to take shorter trips west, into South Carolina, where the Revolutionary War continued. In Camden, South Carolina British troops were met with strong resistance that spread into other battles across Clarendon County. A tour bus can easily take student groups out to selected battlefield destinations. Work with a student travel company to determine which sites work best for Revolutionary War studies and are accessible at the time of year Charleston is visited.

Learn more about a student tour based on Revolutionary War sites in South Carolina. Request a Quote for more information.

Blended Learning About Wildlife: Saint John’s River and the Hontoon Dead River in Florida

manatee_experience-300x198by Howard Clemens

September through May is an excellent time to take student travel groups on an eco tour of the Saint John’s River. Student travelers will be fascinated by the famous manatee, the gigantic sea creature with a Buddha-like personality. At the intersection of Blue Spring State Park and Saint John’s River, students are likely to see this joyous creature that visits the back-waterways of Florida seasonally, where there are warm waters and plenty to eat.

The world of reptiles, wading birds and more awaits the eager student of the environment who will learn more about Central Florida through active immersion in the natural world.

Classroom Preparation for the Adventure of Saint John’s River
Have students engage in online studies about wading birds such as the blue heron, wood duck or water thrushes. In reptile species, students can investigate alligators, turtles, frogs, lizards or snakes – all plentiful in the Central Florida region. Or, perhaps they are interested in studies about bottlenose dolphins and river otters or even muskrats- all native to this eco-system.

Why Are People So Fascinated with the Manatee?
Also known as the ‘sea cow’ the manatee has a bizarre yet fascinating appearance. Its overly large body is buoyant while its head is small in comparison. A set of docile eyes gives the manatee the natural look of compassion and empathy not seen in many species. The manatee lives in the Saint John’s River from November-March. During this time no swimming or boating activity may occur at manatee protected areas – including Blue Spring State Park. Student travel groups may still observe them in their winter habitat. This part of Saint John’s River provides the warmth and food the manatee need and all who visit love to gaze on the many manatee that gather in the River.

Riverboat tours of the Saint John’s River
The upper Saint John’s River provides diverse swampy habitats and boating activities are not restricted during manatee season. Upriver, there are an assortment of riverboat tours to choose from. Schedule a boat tour in advance in conjunction with a student travel company. Touring the river like this will give students a chance for close observation of many species of mammals, reptiles or birds they have studied beforehand. A science or environment teacher’s presence enhances the experience. On board, students will listen as a tour guide points out and describes different habitats and parts of the river, while students look closely for the animals that live in Central Florida’s inland rivers.

Facts About the Saint John’s River & the Hontoon Dead River in Florida
The Saint Johns River is unusual because it flows south to north, is relatively young (5,000 years old), and runs a length of 310 miles. Yet, it flows very slowly, making it the perfect environment for a student group study of an eco system. The Saint Johns River basin is inhabited by 3.5 million people and spans 8,840 square miles. The northern end is in a warm temperate climate while the southern end of Saint John’s River is in a subtropical climate. This student tour focuses on the area close to Orlando, or Central Florida.

A canal links the Saint John’s River to the Hontoon Dead River. A dead river is very much alive. What distinguishes it from other rivers is there is little current. Snake Creek is another tributary that surrounds Hontoon Island State Park. This is another warm water refuge for manatees and is protected by the State of Florida. Manatees are reportedly friendly to paddlers on the Hontoon Dead River. The marshy landscape beyond the island is lined by Cypress Swamps and hardwood hammocks. Here, waterfowl, reptiles and various swamp vegetation can be studied by student groups. The slow movement of the river is an advantage.

Central Florida Eco Tour for Student Travelers
With a span of 310 miles there is so much to see on the Saint Johns River. Each of the tributaries has something different to offer, too. The most exciting thing for students will most likely be sighting manatees or even getting close. However, boat tours can only get so close to see them in season without disrupting their protected natural environments. The boat tour has a great deal to offer student groups by passing through different environments on the river, illustrating diversity of habitat and species.

Post Trip Sharing
Many students will want to post photos to their individual Facebook accounts. Why not make a community Facebook page just for the adventure? If set-up of a special page is too complicated, consider asking the educational tour company to use their Facebook page to share these outdoor adventures. What is important is sharing in one place on the Web, to gain differing perspectives. Pictures and captions of the class trip to Central Florida are sure to be colorful. Sharing is a great way to engender learning.

Have students collect information about the mammals, reptiles, or waterfowl they choose to study. Share the experience of seeing actual manatee in one whole class session – using photos, film and writings captured along the way.

Choose a seasoned student travel company to help make a visit to Saint John’s River spectacular and fun. Email: or visit

Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall: a Blended Learning Experience for Student Travel Groups

carnegie hall outside
Carnegie Hall

by Howard Clemens

For many ambitious music and performance students, a class trip to New York City is the holy grail of rhythm. From jazz to classical to pop to Broadway Musicals, a student trip to New York City continues to be a premiere destination for student travel groups.

There are literally hundreds of musical landmarks and hotspots in the city to choose from, so deciding where to start can often be a music teacher’s biggest challenge. However, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, in particular, can offer students the kind of up-close and personal “blended learning” experience they aren’t likely to forget. After all, studying contemporary music—and musical history—is one thing, but actually traveling to legendary musical destinations is a complementary learning experience that has the potential to excite and engage students even more than classroom studies.

For many aspiring musicians and performers, a gig at either Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall is perceived as the apex of one’s career. Following are some facts that students can learn online about these two major venues in New York City.

Student Tours of Lincoln Center
Constructed in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a massive community renewal project, Lincoln Center houses some of the nation’s most famous musical landmarks, including the Metropolitan Opera House—home of the Metropolitan Opera—and the internationally renowned Julliard School. The school offers campus tours so make sure to have an educational travel company arrange one for a student group prior to visiting.

Lincoln Center is also known for a popular Meet the Artist School Series, a guided student tour that guarantees students VIP access to Lincoln Center landmarks and special performances not open to the public. A student travel company can pre-arrange all of this well in advance, ensuring music students touring New York City have an eye opening experience when they tour this legendary venue.

Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center

To fully understand the immensity and significance of Lincoln Center as well as the work that artists perform behind the scenes, students can prepare for their journey by viewing YouTube performances of Lincoln Center concerts and/or taking virtual tours of Lincoln Center on the Web. These types of preliminary activities are sure to provide a valuable historical context and amp up pre-tour excitement for the student group.

Carnegie Hall
For almost 130 years now, Carnegie Hall has been one of the world’s most beloved classical and popular music venues. Indeed, well known musicians from George Gershwin to Louis Armstrong to Judy Garland to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles have played here. Whether a student wants to be a classical violinist or a rock-n-roll star, Carnegie Hall is a pilgrimage worth making. The Hall is also known for its extensive on-site educational resources: its Resnick Education Wing is impressive. It has 24 brand new spaces that are designed for students and music educators. The Weill Music Institute offers the kind of interactive, hands-on learning experiences that are bound to inspire music students —and galvanize them into dreams of a great future.

Weil Music Room in Carnegie Hall
Weill Music Room in Carnegie Hall

Post Trip Blended Learning Experience in Conjunction with Carnegie Hall
Even after a student tour of New York City is over, the learning experience may still continue. Students can join Carnegie Hall’s Musical Exchange Program, an online community where students and young musicians can share performances, participate in virtual workshops, and network with each other. The Exchange program can be a great supplementary classroom learning experience that is ongoing. It also serves the dual purpose of opening possible doors for students who are serious about a musical career – which makes it a wonderful and potentially invaluable resource.

Online Sharing, Chatting and Documentary Work About the Class Trip to NYC
In the same spirit, teachers can encourage students to share their observations post trip with each other in school-facilitated chat rooms. Students can also film and photograph their group’s tour, and have them collaborate in making a mini-documentary about their New York City experience. Some music educators may want students to try their hands at their own musical compositions, which they can then share on the Carnegie Hall Music Exchange or on their YouTube page. All of these experiences will stimulate creative minds to collaborate and share.

In short, when it comes to blended learning—especially in music, which is interactive by nature—the sky is the limit. At Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, students can really get a sense of just how exciting a career in music can actually be.

To learn more about scheduling a class trip to New York City that includes an inside look at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, email or visit:

Helpful Links for Music Educators:

Junior ROTC students: Major Battlefields Near Washington D.C. Student Tour

The Battle of Antietam was fought in Maryland during the Civil War.
The Battle of Antietam was fought in Maryland during the Civil War.

by Howard Clemens

For students who are studying to become soldiers and officers in the U.S. Armed Forces, reflecting on some of the largest (and bloodiest) land battles fought in our history can be insightful. Contemporary armies have far more technology on their side with faster transportation and communication, while their predecessors had much less. Despite obvious differences in eras studying the preparation and enfolding of significant Revolutionary and Civil War battles – and visiting these sites, can prove to be quite a lesson in strategy and execution in the theater of war.

Combat is a last resort for any country. Once initiated war has casualties. Troops and their families have to bear the brunt of war, with the threat of death, dismemberment and injury. With limited medical knowledge about infection and its cure, troops in the Revolutionary and Civil War had to suffer illnesses and infections that would be curable today. In addition, movement of deceased and injured bodies was a hardship, so the historical battlefields are often grave sites for those who have fallen.

This is all the more reason why ROTC students should visit these battlefield sites in person. Students will stay at a hotel in Northern Virginia so Washington D.C. is easily accessible. Bus service will be provided to each destination with maximum time estimates to be two to two and one half hours to reach the furthest battlefields.

Yorktown National Battlefield, Virginia (Revolutionary War)
Virginia is the site of many famous battlefields. Yorktown National Battlefield is the place where General George Cornwalis surrendered to General George Washington and French forces in the fall of 1781. This famous battlefield marked the end of the Revolutionary War. The victorious union of 13 states celebrated the culmination of a struggle to free themselves from British rule. Yorktown Battlefield is not only the jewel of all battlefields – it is vast. The tour is 16 miles and can be seen on a trolley. Earthworks have been preserved and areas where skirmishes were fought are marked and described. Learn how artillery and strategy as well as the placement of Yorktown on the York River helped to win the victory in the Revolutionary War.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland (Civil War)
Called the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the battle of Antietam was fought on September 17, 1862 . Over 23,000 soldiers who were killed, wounded or missing. In this battle, General Robert E. Lee shows his prowess by attacking the North in Western Maryland, in a 12-hour siege that devastated the city of Sharpsburg, Maryland. Because this battlefield is so close to Washington D.C., Lee was threatening the seat of power in the North. But Lee had other plans. He instructed Stonewall Jackson to secure Harper’s Ferry, the armory and supply line for Confederate soldiers in Virginia and further south. After securing Harper’s Ferry, Stonewall Jackson returned to Antietam to defend the battle line. The Confederate forces held their ground but buried their dead and retreated across the Potomac River, back to Virginia. President Lincoln responded by issuing a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the first step towards making slavery obsolete.

Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia (Civil War)
There were two battles in Manassas, Virginia and both strengthened the positions of the Confederate army. Taking the battle to Virginia was seen as a way for the Union to end the war quickly. General Irvin McDowell set out to Richmond, the South’s capital, with 35,000 soldiers. He was stopped by approximately 22,000 Confederate soldiers, waiting for the advance. With the assistance of 10,000 troops stationed in Shenandoah Valley, the First Battle of Manassas began. Also called the Battle of Bull Run, so named for the river, this decisive battle is an example of military strategy and communication converging to bring about victory on the Confederate side. The second Battle of Manassas was another example of General Robert E. Lee’s exceptional battle strategies. After chasing the Union army away from Richmond and North, across the Rappahannock River, the Confederates engaged in another bloody battle near Manassas and held their position as the Union Army retreated to Washington D.C. to defend the capital. ROTC students will learn a great deal by considering the First and Second Battle(s) of Bull Run.

Gettysburg National Battlefield Park, Pennsylvania (Civil War)
Historic Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania is the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Here, President Lincoln delivered the “Gettysburg Address.” Gettysburg recently celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 to mark the battles of July 1863 that brought the Civil War to Northern territory. The National Park Service published several retrospective books on the “contributions of diverse ethnic groups to the Civil War” such as Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Hispanics. To celebrate the 150th anniversary, there was a re-enactment of the Iron Brigade Charging McPherson’s Ridge –a decisive move for Union troops. The collections, relics of war and stories as well as photos and multimedia presentations and educational tours make the experience come alive for the young ROTC student.

ROTC instructors will consider this tour geared towards the future officer a solid learning experience. It will be especially helpful for the study of strategy. Even more notable will be the price of victory – through death, injury and loss of property for many. Students will come away from the Great Battlefields Tour with a greater body of knowledge about the United States early military history than before.
Learn more about creating a Great Battlefields Tour of Washington D.C. Email:

Helpful Resources for Teachers (Antietam) (Gettysburg) (Yorktown)