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An Educational Tour of Washington D.C. Designed for Junior ROTC or Social Studies Students

Washington D.C. has a great deal to offer for student tours of the city and surrounding area. In fact, there are so many different choices, that student travel trip coordinators might just become overwhelmed. Choosing a qualified and experienced student travel company can certainly help focus a trip and align it with curricular objectives.

Over the years I have developed many different types of trips that tie into a variety of curriculums such as art, history, government, performance tours, science, and more. I have designed a school trip for middle school students and JROTC students studying major U.S. conflicts of the 20th Century.  This educational tour helps students take a closer look at the Vietnam and Korean Wars as well as World War II.  Student travel groups visit sites in Washington D.C. which are directly related to these conflicts. I have organized these tours around the themes of sacrifice and conflict.

Depending upon time allowance, student groups may also plan to visit the main destinations for any educational tour of Washington D.C. The selection of sites might also include a visit to the White House, Capitol Building, Smithsonian Museum, and popular choices for dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Following are my suggestions for destinations for Social Studies and or JROTC students who are studying modern wars:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam conflict was one of the most politicized events of the 20th Century.  Students studying it will want to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The names of soldiers who died in this conflict are embedded in the wall for all to remember.  On any given day, student groups may see families and loved ones of fallen soldiers honoring their loss with flowers, vigils, personal memorabilia, and more.  Groups visiting the wall may want to opt for the ranger guided interpretive tour, where stories about individual soldiers and units are recounted, as well as a brief history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was opened to the public in 1995 and dedicated by President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young Sam.  Nearby the wall of pictures and names, there are 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers, representing all four branches of the military and from diverse backgrounds. The statues of infantryman and medical personnel appear to be walking in the same proximity as the wall and even emerge from the nearby woods.   The mural displays 2,400 photographs from the Korean War obtained from the National Archives.  Visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, students gain a more in depth perspective of this War and its impact on Korean and American life.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum is a must see for anyone studying World War II.  It details the systematic, bureaucratic killing of Jews, Russians, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, disabled people and others who were targeted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe.  Students will learn about the Holocaust by viewing historical film footage, artifacts, photographs, and listening to stories recorded by survivors and witnesses. Much of the material in this museum is difficult to contemplate. The events of the holocaust have been well-documented in history books, biographies, fiction and non-fiction. Various texts can be studied alongside a visit to the Museum.   Yet there is really no substitute for the up-close, visual viewpoint provided by the Holocaust Museum which gives a student an even broader perspective and context in which to study this atrocity.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is just outside of Washington D.C. in the Northern Virginia town of Arlington, and is well worth the visit. These burial grounds are the place where many prominent American explorers, judges and historical figures are buried, right alongside of the common soldier who fought for his or her country and died for freedom.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Arlington and students may observe it being guarded closely by a professional soldier. With enough advance planning, student travel group coordinators may request that their visit to Arlington National Cemetery coincide with a formal wreath laying ceremony, a solemn and colorful tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. has many facets.  Student groups who are looking to gain a full understanding of American conflicts in the 20th Century will want to schedule some time at the National Museum of American History.  School trips visiting this Museum will find additional information, photographs, relics, films, and stories about the U.S. conflicts mentioned above. The National Museum of American History will expand upon knowledge gathered at all of the sites visited.  This Museum also offers some exceptional curricular materials that can be utilized in the classroom when prepping students to study these wars and make a visit to our nations capitol.

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JROTC Class Trip to Washington D.C. Matched Curriculum Requirements and Pleased Students

Recently, I had the opportunity to organize a student trip to Washington D.C. for a JROTC class from Morhead High School in North Carolina. During the process of creating an itinerary, I learned a great deal about the Junior ROTC program and how a trip to our nation’s capitol could further extend the learning experience for this type of group.

JROTC educational training courses at Morhead High School complement any type of high school curriculum. In addition to history and government courses required by every high school student, JROTC participants are asked to partake in physical activities and competitions, develop their character, citizenship, ethics, oral communication and leadership skills and expand their knowledge of military history. JROTC students are also expected to give back to their communities, through service learning projects.

David J. Bray, Jr., a Senior Army Instructor, and Zack Reynolds, an Army Instructor, lead the program in place at Morhead High School. Fifty students and four chaperons took the trip to Washington D.C.

I posed a series of questions to those who attended the class trip to Washington D.C. The instructors graciously took the time to obtain answers from students and chaperons.

Here are some of their thoughts and experiences from the visit to Washington D.C.

Q.Why did you select this particular educational travel company as your student travel service? Was your selection based on price, the travel package presented, service, expertise, or something other than any of these?

A. Customer Service and expertise played a big part in our decision since it was our first time going on a field trip.

Q. Did you compare these educational travel services to other student travel providers? Why or why not?

A. No, we were satisfied with this educational travel company because they worked with us step-by-step in our planning process.

Q. Why was the Washington D.C. itinerary presented to the JROTC program at Morhead High School such a good match for the core course objectives? What specific Washington D.C. destinations reinforced your curricular objectives?

A. The itinerary covered many periods in U.S. history and military history. It also highlighted learning about qualities that make a great army cadet or officer, which include leadership and good citizenship. Under leadership, our student command team and staff were responsible for seeing to it that this trip was planned, organized and resourced. All the cadets learned of the many rights and benefits of being an American Citizen while seeing first hand the sacrifices we have made as a country to protect those rights.

Q.Out of all of the destinations visited on the trip, which seemed to have the greatest impact on students?

A. Visits to Arlington Cemetery, Smithsonian Museum and the White House had a significant impact on JROTC students.

Q.As you worked to craft an itinerary to match the JROTC program, how were the educational travel professionals instrumental in selecting destinations that matched your curriculum objectives and your budget?

A. The educational travel service was helpful in adjusting payment dates to accommodate the JROTC program’s fundraising calendar dates.

Q. Did you make any post-trip writing or speaking assignments?

A. Students were required to put together an article for the local newspaper. They also used pictures obtained on the trip for a formal slide show presentation.

Q. Overall, what were student responses to the trip to Washington D.C.? Did parents also comment on the value of the trip?

A. Students enjoyed the trip to Washington D.C. Parents were also supportive of this trip and commended the efforts made to make it a success.

Some educational travel companies only sell pre-packaged itineraries to reap a greater profit. These types of companies keep predictable destinations on the itinerary year in and year out. I believe that working closely with educators on the itinerary helps to enhance the overall quality of the trip. Customized itineraries create learning experiences which seem to match teacher objectives more closely.

JROTC programs have a more specific educational objective with students than most general high school courses, which are usually either college prep or geared towards trade school. JROTC classes and extra curricular activities are designed to motivate young people to be better citizens. Aligning the itinerary with these objectives took some extra effort and time – and it was certainly worthwhile. The outcome of the trip and candid responses from students and chaperones indicates we are certainly on the right track with JROTC student group travel.

For more information about a student trip to Washington D.C. or to view a sample JROTC itinerary, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote by taking a moment to fill out our brief online questionnaire.