Tag Archives: student tours washington d.c.

Student Trips to Washington D.C.: Social Studies and History Students Participate in Democratic Process

by Howard Clemens

A student tour of Washington D.C. often includes a visit the White House or Capitol Building. Putting a visit to these sensitive government buildings on the itinerary does take special planning.

For educators who want student groups to meet with representatives from their region or state, I recommend at least six months of advance planning or more.

Teach Students About Participatory Democracy
Social Studies and History teachers will take students through an exercise to illustrate exactly how a participatory democracy works. First, select a representative, either a Senator or Congressman from the group’s originating district. Be open to having the group meet with aides and/or staff if the representative is not available, to discuss important issues. Choose an experienced educational travel company to ensure a smooth visit and the optimal learning experience.

Learn More About How the U.S. Capitol & the Democratic System Really Works
What would students gain from meeting with their representative and/or their staff in the Capitol Building? A knowledge that within the democratic process, national and international as well as smaller, more personal issues can be discussed. Some smaller issues may even be resolved through participation in the democratic process. How would a teacher initiate such a meeting between students and representatives? A competent student tour consultant will be able to step a teacher through this process. The result of this exercise will be to engage students in the process of democracy and the relevance and importance of expressing their views.

Here are some things to consider, when organizing a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to a representative’s office in the Capitol Building.

1. A representative or senator must be selected to approach. The educational travel company will approach a staff member of the chosen representative and schedule a convenient time during the trip to visit the representative. The educational travel representative will conduct follow-up with the representative’s office in preparation for the visit.

2. Teachers will prepare the class before the trip so students will visit the representative with a clear objective, and be able to communicate this precisely in speech or writing.

3. If students have specific questions related to the topic at hand, they may ask the representative.

4. Be prepared to meet with an aide, should the representative be called into session, or is traveling on other official business.

5. Before or after initiating a conversation with the representative, take students on tour of the Capitol Building and watch Congress or the Senate floor in action. Have students observe the process of democratic discussions while representatives conduct the necessary business of this country.

6. After the trip is over and students return to the classroom, instruct them to write or give an oral presentation on their views of the democratic process. Ask them if they feel participatory democracy works.

Through this exercise, students will learn that democracy is not just about voting.

This real life lesson will teach students participatory democracy is what the founding fathers envisioned when they modeled the U.S. system on Grecian democracy from the classical period. At this time in Greek history, the Forum could be equated to the floor of the Capitol. The only difference was that Ancient Greece allowed anyone to step into the forum and voice an opinion to the public. Because of a large population – this sort of discussion is not entirely possible in the contemporary era. Instead Americans have representatives who argue on their behalf.

Having a ‘Forum’ or Capitol building is one way of bringing people together. This means the individual and groups must participate in governmental decision-making that affects them directly. Visiting a representative before he or she casts a deciding vote on a bill, budget item, military action or other concern is the way to influence political outcomes.

To learn more about planning a student trip to Washington D.C. which includes a visit to the Capitol and a pre-arranged meeting with a Congressional or Senatorial representative visit: http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

National Harbor has even More to Offer Student Travel Groups Touring Washington D.C.

By Howard Clemens

student travel washington d.c.
National Harbor is the newest hotspot for student travel to Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is full of historical and cultural and sights for student travel groups. Getting slightly outside of the city can be just as exciting as touring the streets of D.C. The National Harbor is the newest destination for student trips to Washington D.C. Visit the Harbor for a day of waterfront fun and – take a spin on some adult sized circus rides such as the Capital Wheel and The Carousel. After intense touring of Washington D.C., students groups can relax for an afternoon and/or an evening on the shores of the Potomac River. Dining, entertainment, shopping and cruising are the main activities to be enjoyed here.

National Harbor Expansion Includes MGM Casino and Resort

National Harbor is located on the shores of the Potomac River in Prince George’s County, Maryland near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Here, visitors have panoramic views of Downtown Washington D.C. Currently, MGM is building a world-class casino/resort at National Harbor, which should attract enormous crowds. Student travel groups will have many other choices in entertainment, more appropriate for their age group.

Take a Ride on the Capital Wheel – the 180 Feet Wonder

For student groups headed to the National Harbor, a ride on the Capital Wheel will be the first on the list of activities for the day. The Capital Wheel rises 180 feet above the Potomac River and offers splendid views of the D.C. skyline. Students can also ride the whimsical Carousel. While walking around, groups may stop and watch the Jumbotron – a large screen outdoor display – where popular shows, entertainment and sports are broadcast.

Shop at Tanger Outlets & Have Some Lunch

Dining and shopping opportunities at National Harbor are numerous. The Tanger Outlets have over 85 name brand stores located there. So, trip leaders may want to allow time for a couple of free hours for shopping, before or after lunch at one of the many restaurants. National Harbor has a wide choice of restaurants, from burgers and prime steak and seafood to Baja fresh Mexican food, Italian, Pan Asian and much more. Ben and Jerry’s or Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats are great places to stop for dessert.

Cruises on the Potomac Include Historic Sites

The marina at National Harbor provides different options for student travel groups. National Harbor has a boat rental area, where kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards can be rented by the hour or the day. Many student groups may not have the time or prior training needed to operate these type of watercraft on the Potomac. So I usually recommend a cruise on the Potomac River instead.

Students look forward to a cruise. Cruises include dinner and dancing to the contemporary music students enjoy. The Potomac River Cruise can be boarded at National Harbor, making for quite a full day and evening. For those who want to see Washington D.C. lit up at night, sightseeing cruises offer a great opportunity to view historic sites from the water, including the Washington Monument and Mount Vernon Cruises.

Pre-Planning is Key to Fitting it All in When Student Travel Groups Visit National Harbor

There is so much to see and do at National Harbor it is almost overwhelming. In order to maintain oversight of the student group, it’s best to focus on different activities for set periods of time – such as cruising or riding the Capital Wheel and Carousel. Pre-trip planning is essential to fitting in dining, entertainment and shopping opportunities for large student groups spending the day at the Harbor. Be sure to have an educational travel expert help develop a travel itinerary for National Harbor to get the most out of a visit. For more information on student trips to Washington D.C., request a quote.  

 

Library of Congress: an Essential Part of Student Trips to Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

A student trip to Washington D.C. would be incomplete without a tour of the greatest library on Earth. The Library of Congress in Washington DC first opened its doors in 1800. Ever since then the library has been working hard to serve the Congress and the American people, not only as an invaluable library for the Congress, but to further the creativity of the nation. Besides providing a congressional research service, the library also hosts the American Folklife Center, the American Memory project, the Center for the Book, as well as the Poet Laureate.

When the British attempted to destroy the library in 1814 by burning the capitol and pillaging the thousands of bookshelves, retired president Thomas Jefferson offered his own personal library as replacement. Jefferson was said to have the finest library in the United States at the time, and in 1815 congress accepted his nearly 6,500 books. History, philosophy, literature, and fine arts books made up the Jefferson collection. The Jefferson Building was built after ratifying all published materials should have two copies sent to the library.

Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Washington D.C.

Exhibitions at the Library of Congress

Exhibitions currently running include The Civil War in America. There are 200 unique items on display, including many on display for the first time. Teachers can encourage students to read and comment on an ongoing blog of Civil War Voices available on the Library of Congress website. Also newly on display is Abel Buell’s map of the United States. There were only seven copies made in 1784 of the newly independent nation, having broken away from England. There is a copy of the original map on display at the library, not to be missed! There is also a copy of the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on display, something everyone will want to see and talk about!

History of U.S. Science, Technology and Business in Library of Congress

There is a remarkable collection of prints, photos and recordings on American science, technology and business, from extremely rare paintings of birds by John James Audubon to Sigmund Freud’s letters. There is also an exhibit on the 100th birthday of the Harley Davidson motorcycle, and the inventions of the telephone and dreams of flight becoming a reality. The establishment of Yosemite National Park and other land conservation initiatives are also part of the collection, including details on the evolution of the conservation movement from 1850 to 1920.

Besides the amazing array of American scientific and historical maps, letters, photos and objects on display, there is also a very large collection documenting the performing arts including theater, music and dance at the library. Photographs, music scores and recordings are housed at the library, including American Yiddish sheet music currently on exhibition from the Irene Heskes collection. Much of this collection originates from the Lower East Side and Bowery of New York City from 1880 to the mid twentieth century.

Student Travel To DC: Viewing America in Retrospect

Another popular exhibit is “100 Years Ago Today,” where newspapers from 100 years ago are displayed from the very date of the student group’s visit. For instance student groups can view papers like The Washington Herald, The Amarillo Daily News, and The Tombstone Epitaph. It is fascinating to see what was going on exactly a century ago when visiting the Library of Congress. A century of newspapers from every corner of the United States are on display, such as The Salt Lake Tribune and the Tulsa Daily World.

From the history of advertising to American literature and culture – many subjects can be explored at the Library of Congress, an essential stop on any student tour of Washington DC. Other topics for social studies and history students include: wars, religions, immigration documents and the great American Expansion. The history of Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the history of Native Americans can be found, read, studied, and explored at Library of Congress, too. From little towns to big cities, the United States has done one of the best jobs the world has ever seen in documenting a nation’s history and culture.

Learn more about student travel to Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Performance Tour Venues in Washington D.C.

For band directors, music teachers, and those involved with education and musical performance groups, Washington D.C. is a great choice for a performance tour. The city offers a rich array of public performance venues open to student groups. In order to book a successful student performance tour, make sure to partner with a qualified educational travel consultant with experience in booking student travel groups with a performance emphasis. The selected travel company should already have organized and executed performance tours for large groups at major destinations and have qualified staff that specializes in working with musicians.
Select an Educational Travel Company With Experience in Performance Tours
Student performance groups have special requirements when traveling that must be accommodated in order for a tour to run smoothly. For example, many musicians will need to bring their instruments and they must be secure during travel between locations and on the airplane. For the best possible outcome on performance tour, travel with experienced tour guides and bus drivers used to working with performance groups. Some locations in Washington D.C. will not allow chairs, or electricity or sound systems. And, due to security regulations in Washington D.C., bus drivers must know where to park or drop off. Experienced tour personnel are essential.
Choose a Washington D.C. Performance Venue
Scheduling a performance at one of the main venues in Washington D.C. is no easy task, and requires at least three months advance notice. If possible, make sure to give at least 6 months to one year advance notice prior to a performance tour so that a music group or high school band or orchestra can be assured they will perform at their chosen venue.
Here is a short list of possible performance spaces in Washington D.C. that offers great exposure for a musical group: White House Ellipse, U.S Capitol (Upper Senate Park and West Front on Weekends), The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. There are two additional venues with special requirements: Old Post Office Pavilion (under 40 performers) and the U.S. Naval Memorial (for bands only).
Planning the Program for the Performance Tour
For the student travel organizer with so many different staging areas to choose from — it may seem overwhelming. Once the logistics are planned and the location selected a public performance in downtown Washington D.C. becomes a reality and students get excited. Groups will need to prepare and rehearse a program that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, depending upon the location chosen.
Suggested Activities for Performance Tours
Performance tours to Washington D.C. also include other fun activities, and may last 3 to 4 days or longer, depending upon the group. Choose from a variety of exciting destinations such as the Kennedy Center to see professionals perform. Or, take a student group to visit the Crime and Punishment Museum that just opened. It features the America’s Most Wanted Studio on the second Floor. Complement these student tour activities with a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner one evening for a glimpse of rock-n-roll history — always a popular choice among student groups but even more popular with a high school band, orchestra, or ensemble. Round out the student trip with some of the most popular destinations in Washington D.C. such as the White House and Capitol or portions of the Smithsonian Museum to complete the educational tour experience.
With so many different destinations to choose from in the Washington D.C. area, it is easy to create a performance tour that is fun, interesting, and educational and includes a chance for the group to perform at a desirable venue.

To book a performance tour to Washington D.C. fill out this short questionnaire, or contact an Educational Travel consultant.

Visit the New National Musuem of American History in Washington D.C.

Plan an Educational Tour of the National Museum of American History in Washington DC

Student field trips and educational tours to famous, metropolitan cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC are popular these days, but in the fall of 2008 a Washington DC educational student travel destination reopens that everyone will want to visit. On Friday, November 21, 2008 the National Museum of American History opens its doors after over two years and $85 million of architectural renovations. According to a July 30, 2008 press release from the National Museum of American History the center core of the building has been redesigned to improve architectural appeal and modernize the presentation of the museum’s extensive collections. The redesign includes construction of a skylit 5-story atrium, grand staircase and a new Star-Spangled Banner Gallery.

Visit the Museum of American History and Make Your Washington DC Student Travel Tour a Success

An Inspirational and Educational Field Trip: Visit the 200-Year-Old Star Spangled Banner
In the center of Washington DC’s American History Museum the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery was built to inspire visitors through the dramatic and powerful story of the American flag and the national anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner gallery is a state of the art facility made to protect, preserve and display the American flag. Housed behind a 45-foot tall, floor to ceiling glass wall in a special, climate controlled chamber the flag’s wool and cotton fibers are monitored and maintained. Low light levels and the projection of the first stanza of Francis Scott Key’s poem, “The Star Spangled Banner” on the wall above and behind the flag provide excellent visibility for museum visitors. According to the American History Museum’s web site, “The History Channel, a donor through financial contributions and in-kind gifts, will release a new one-hour special touching on the flag’s colorful history, including the specialized conservation treatment undertaken by the museum and the new high-tech flag chamber.” As a part of the ‘Save Our History’ series, the History Channel documentary airs this fall.

Celebrate American History: Take a Class Trip to See the White House Copy of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863, is one of the most well-known and memorable speeches in American history. The manuscript, displayed at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC, is one of five drafts and the last known to have been written in Lincoln’s own hand in March of 1864. This copy of the Gettysburg Address is officially part of a collection kept at the White House in the private quarters of the Lincoln Bedroom. First Lady Laura Bush approved the loan of this copy to the Washington DC American History Museum until January 4, 2009.

Additional Museum Exhibitions Perfect for Student Tour Groups and Student Trips
On the second floor of the National Museum of American History the Nina and Ivan Selin Welcome Center serves as a landmark and houses historical objects like the Vassar College telescope from 1865. The telescope is situated on the west wing of the first floor to represent science and technology and was used by the first woman astronomer in America. The west wing also includes a hands-on science and invention center called the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Spark!Lab. One of the program highlights planned for the spring of 2009 is the 8,000 square foot ‘On the Water: Stories from Maritime America’ exhibition. In 2009 The Susan and Elihu Rose Gallery will begin to feature rotating exhibits so visitors can encounter varying historic characters every weekend as well as celebrate and learn about various federal holidays.

Make Your Educational Student Tour Unforgettable at Washington DC’s National Museum of American History

The American History Museum renovations also include the construction of the 275-seat Carmichael Auditorium, the Samuel J. and Ethel LaFrak Lobby, new elevators, new restrooms, retail operations, The Constitution Café and the 600-seat Stars and Stripes Café. Historians, families, student travel tours, educational travel services and individuals interested in exploring American history from colonial to modern times can view virtual exhibits and collections online at the National Museum of American History’s web site: americanhistory.si.edu. Museum schedules, special events and educational activities are also available online.

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Annapolis Maryland: A Great Add On For Student Travel to Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

Annapolis, Maryland is an historic naval stronghold and seaport with colonial influences and a distinct character. Student trips to Washington D.C. are adding a much broader educational experience with a day trip to Annapolis, Maryland. The U.S. Naval Academy is one student destination, but not the only point of interest. Annapolis is also a city with a rich selection of historic buildings and colonial architecture. Some leading figures in Early American history were entertained in Annapolis, including many of the nation’s founding fathers.

Annapolis: A Short Bus Drive From Washington D.C.
The city of Annapolis is a short bus ride from Washington D.C. During the colonial era Annapolis was just as important as Washington D.C. and served as a focus for politics and commerce. Annapolis was named for Princess Anne. Not long after, she became Queen and chartered Annapolis as a city in 1708.

With the lure of a lucrative shipping industry, wealthy merchants and planters built their lavish estate homes in Annapolis. Many of these homes are representative of the European architecture of the colonial period. This history makes the seaport town stand out, mainly due to the grandness and splendor of homes and the lifestyles lived there.

Student Travel to the Annapolis Historic Downtown District
Student travel groups do not want to miss out on historical homes and public buildings in Annapolis that date as far back as the American Revolutionary period. The best way to take in all of the points of interest is to take a short walking tour in the historic part of Annapolis. Some of the highlights students will see include the City Dock, State House, St. John’s College, and William Paca House and Garden. The connection between Annapolis and later prominent statesmen in Washington D.C. will be evident after this walking tour. Student travel groups can enjoy some souvenir shopping or grab a light snack or cold drink while touring downtown Annapolis.

Harbor Boat Tour: Annapolis
The Annapolis Harbor boat tour is one of the best opportunities for students to see the U.S. Naval Academy from the vantage point of the Chesapeake Bay. The boat cruises around the Annapolis Harbor for less than an hour. The professional tour guide narrates the history of Annapolis, the U.S. Naval Academy, and some of the strategic battles that were fought here or nearby. Student travel groups will learn about history, commerce, social life, journeys at sea, and more, when they take Annapolis Harbor Tour. The Annapolis Harbor Tour is a great complement to the walking tour of downtown Annapolis.

Maryland State House
This historic building is the oldest capitol building in continuous use in the U.S. It served as the Capitol from 1783-1784, when the Continental Congress met there. The building was rebuilt three separate times. It was burned in 1704; the government outgrew the new building by 1769; and, an Annapolis architect helped create the plans for and execute the third Maryland State House building. The new building had a dome, an extraordinary engineering feat. Student travelers will marvel at the lightning rod atop the Maryland State House, built to specifications by Ben Franklin. Franklin had a theory that lightning rods attached to high buildings prevented lightning strikes on the structure. The Maryland State House was an integral part of Early American history and political life. Some of the earliest forms of representative government were practiced at the Maryland State House; therefore it is a necessary stop on any student trip.

Student travel groups touring the Washington D.C. area will want to consider adding a full day or half day trip to Annapolis to their itinerary. For more information regarding student travel trips to Washington D.C., Annapolis, or other areas, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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Washington D.C.: The Capitol Tour and Tickets to Congressional Sessions

Tips on Obtaining Admission for Student Travel Groups

The following interview was conducted with Vicki Heebner, Reservations Manager for Educational Travel Consultants. She gives some quick and easy tips for student travel trips headed to Washington D.C. Heebner explains two different processes of obtaining tickets for a Capitol Tour. Student groups may also receive Gallery tickets to view the Congress or Senate when in session, or just take a tour of the Gallery itself.

Heebner works closely with another student travel specialist, Joanne Wycoff. Heebner says, “Once a group is booked, I review the itinerary and make reservations for the travel groups. I am in charge of Capitol Tours and tickets to Congressional sessions.”

How to Book a Capitol Tour for a Student Travel Group

In order to book a student travel group’s Capitol Tour, a specific procedure must be followed. “We find the senator or congressman of the district that the school group comes from. Often a school will request a certain senator or congressman,” says Heebner. She uses a surefire method of booking the tour, “I visit the senator or congressman’s website and determine what type of application is needed for a student travel group visiting the Washington D.C. area. It’s usually either an online request or a form that can be printed and faxed. I fill out the form and send it in, and follow it with a phone call.” Requests must be submitted early, and there must be full cooperation from the senator or congressman’s office. “If it’s a senator that cares about his constituents, their children, and getting re-elected the tour will be set up in an organized and timely manner,” said Heebner.


Booking the Capitol Tour in Washington D.C. is Still not Easy

Even with this type of follow-up, the requests for a Capitol Tour can sometimes be lost or misplaced. Heebner says that most representatives’ offices are run by interns that serve a six-month term. So, she always follows the initial contact and confirmation with another phone call, within a time frame closer to the student travel trip to Washington D.C. Usually, a different intern answers the telephone, and sometimes they have to dig up the paperwork, or Heebner has even been asked to go through the process again.

In the Washington D.C. student travel market, there are plenty of great attractions that are low or no cost. Heebner says that the Capitol Tour is one of those unique experiences every American must want to have – to witness our representative democracy in action. Booking the Capitol Tour is made easier through pre-planning and great execution by a student travel expert.

Large Groups on Capitol Tour in Washington D.C.

Heebner did mention that sometimes large groups on Capitol Tour can require even more advance planning. For example, her company, Educational Travel Consultants, scheduled a Capitol Tour with 230 student travel participants. “They require one intern for every 15 students. When groups are this big, planning ahead is essential. Requests for the tour must be in as quickly as possible. Even if the large student travel group is not scheduled for the Capitol Tour, they may still receive passes to the gallery so they can sit in on a Congressional or Senatorial session.

What if Groups Do Not Book the Capitol Tour On Time?
The only alternative to an advance booking for a Capitol Tour through a congressman or senator’s office is not a good one, especially for student travel groups with limited time on their itinerary. Tickets are distributed on a first come first served basis at the Capitol, one per person. During the busy student travel months of spring student groups must stand in line — and lines are long. The ticket window is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Even though student travel groups line up, there is no guarantee they will obtain admission. It’s better to work with an educational travel partner to book the Capitol Tour in advance rather than waste valuable touring time standing in the long times.

Gallery Passes: Another Alternative to the Capitol Tour

Student travel groups who cannot obtain Capitol Tour tickets may still have a chance to see a live session by obtaining Gallery passes. Seeing the representatives live is dependent upon whether the Senate or House is session. Groups can still obtain gallery passes but they are just touring the Capitol Gallery. The Senate Gallery is located at the north side of the Capitol and the House of Representatives at the south side of the Capitol. Gallery passes are much easier to obtain than Capitol Tour passes and will still give student groups a view of the chambers that serve as the heart of our democratic government.

Add On Day Trips for Student Travel to Washington D.C.

Student travel groups headed to the Washington D.C. area may want to consider adding on day or overnight trips to nearby areas relevant to colonial or revolutionary history. There are many rich educational experiences in the Washington D.C. area, and even more destinations just a 2-4 hour driving distance outside of Washington D.C.
In my experience as an educational travel consultant, groups benefit greatly from visiting additional cities. From an educational perspective, it gives students a much wider scope of the historic period they are studying. For many groups, a study of the Civil War is relevant to their tour, and a northern and southern perspective is needed for a complete overview of the Civil War period.
Suggestions for additional cities that can easily be added to a student travel trip to Washington D.C. are included here. If the student group flies into Washington D.C., a motor coach can be utilized to travel to additional destinations such as Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Williamsburg
Approximately three hours south of Washington D.C. is the town of Williamsburg Virginia. Williamsburg was the 18th Century colonial capital, and the place where the Governor resided. Colonial Williamsburg has been called the living history capital of the east, and for good reason. A student travel group can tour the town and watch history come alive as costumed interpreters tell stories derived from historical records, and give more detailed information about buildings and colonial lifestyles. Students embrace living history because it’s a fun way to learn. If student groups can stay in the Williamsburg area overnight, an additional trip to Historic Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement, and Yorktown National Battlefield, significant in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, is plausible.

Gettysburg
The Gettysburg National Military Park is located about two hours northwest of Washington D.C. and makes for a nice additional city to add on to a student travel tour.

The Educational Travel Consultants student tour of the Gettysburg battlefields includes a tour guide with expert knowledge of the Gettysburg area and the Civil War era. Student travel groups should be prepared to tour for two to three hours. A visit the National Park Visitor Center benefits student groups by giving them a better understanding of the Gettysburg National Battlefield history through exhibits and films.

Philadelphia and Lancaster
Student travel groups who explore the educational venues in Washington D.C. will expand their knowledge of history when they take a short trip to Philadelphia and/or Lancaster Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia walking tour is a great way for student travel groups to familiarize themselves with colonial history and the history of the U.S. government. A tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both composed. Students can also see the Liberty Bell, Visit Betsy Ross’s house and walk in Elfreth’s Alley, one of the oldest residential streets in Philadelphia, which dates back to 1702.
In nearby Lancaster Pennsylvania, students can experience the Amish way of life, tour a working farm, and dine at an authentic Amish restaurant.
With all of the additional choices for educational travel outside of Washington D.C., there are lots of creative ways to construct an interesting trip that will give a group a great overview of history and be fun and interesting at the same time.

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Student Tours of Washington D.C. Require Knowledge of Security Procedures

By Howard Clemens

Following is a question and answer session with Ann Greenwald, Tour Director, and Licensed Washington D.C. Guide.

As a student tour travel consultant for many years, it has become necessary to prepare groups for security procedures and protocols of certain U.S. government buildings in this post 9-11 era. In a brief interview with an affiliated Tour Director in Washington D.C., I have detailed the many requirements for security that are necessary to visit some of the more common sites within Washington D.C.

White House tour:
Q. What items can you bring with you on the White House tour?
A. You must bring a valid photo I.D. Students may bring a wallet if it fits in a pocket. Women cannot bring purses. Nothing else is permitted: no cameras, no breath mints, no chapstick, no bottled water, no gum – nothing. These items will be taken at the gate and students probably won’t get them back. They go into a trash bin.

Q. How does a student tour group get permission to attend a White House tour?
A. A list of student and adult travelers, along with their Social Security numbers, are submitted to a congressman or senator well in advance of the trip. All names are subject to a background check. Without permission to do a background check, an individual cannot get into the White House. Groups must line up in alphabetical order. For any additional security information concerning a student travel tour of the White House, please consult this site : http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/

United States Capitol Tour:
Q. What personal items are prohibited inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. No oversized backpacks are allowed, though purse backpacks are permissible. All permissible bags are subject to a security search. Depending upon where you start the tour there may be up to three security checkpoints, and three checks on your purse. Other prohibited items include: water, nothing that can be construed as a weapon such as a metal file, no hairspray, no hand sanitizer. No liquids of any kind are permitted. No food is permitted.

Q. What personal items are allowed inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. Cameras are permitted but not inside the galleries (House and Senate chambers). Also permitted on the general tour but not in the galleries is any video recording devices, electronic devices and baby strollers.

Q. When is the Capitol tour open to the public?
A. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours Monday through Saturday with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Ticket holders will be directed to the South Visitor Receiving Facility and proceed to the Capitol to begin their tour. Maximum tour size is 40 people. A student tour company can make arrangements through the U.S. Senator or Congressman to schedule a special tour for educational travel groups and avoid the public line (and wait). If student tour groups need additional information concerning visiting the U.S. Capitol please consult their official website: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/visit/

The Smithsonian:
Q. What security procedures should students and chaperones expect when visiting the Smithsonian as part of a tour?
A. At most museums, security personnel will conduct a thorough but speedy hand check of all bags, briefcases, purses, and containers. All visitors are subject to bag checks with special electronic devices. There are walk through security bag checkpoints at all Smithsonian Museums and students will go through a metal detector. For those unable to walk through the metal detector such as those in wheelchairs, security personnel will screen these visitors individually. No food or drink is allowed in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

Q. What items are allowed in the Smithsonian?
A. Backpacks and purses are allowed in the Smithsonian, and they are subject to search. For any additional security questions concerning a student tour of the Smithsonian, please consult the following site : http://www.smithsonian.org/visit/security_and_policies.htm.

General Tips to Student travelers coming to Washington D.C.
Q. Are there any suggestions you would make to students traveling to Washington D.C. for tours of the various sites?
A. The lighter students travel, the quicker they get through security. Leave ipods or other metal devices in rooms or on the bus. The lighter students go the more comfortable they will be. My advice is if it doesn’t fit in your pocket or wallet or purse, leave it. This will mean the student will not have to get into a bag check line. As a rule, don’t bring food or drink anywhere. In most cases the student can bring water with them (but, not the Capital or White House).

In a typical day of touring with a group, Ann says her groups will visit five to eight sites and go through security an average of three to ten times per day depending upon the site visited.

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Washington D.C.: Popular Places to Dine, Entertain, and Shop With Student Travel Groups

Students traveling to Washington D.C. on tour are more likely to enjoy themselves when the educational experience is coupled with dining and entertainment experiences they find exciting. An educational travel company and the tour guide working in the Washington D.C. area can work together to add some age appropriate experiences to student travel that will be well remembered. The good news for parents, teachers, and administrators is that it is not necessary to depart from the educational objectives of the student trip to satisfy the student group’s yearning for something different.

Recently, I interviewed Ann Greenwald, a Tour Director and a licensed Washington D.C. guide who has been working in the profession for eight years. Greenwald has given knowledgeable and insightful guided tours to many student travel groups in and around Washington D.C. and has a real feel for the types of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences students enjoy. The selections discussed are popular and economic choices for student travel tour itineraries.

Student Travel Groups: Shopping in Washington D.C.

When students shop, they do so to purchase souvenirs, or small gifts for their families and friends. A shopping experience for a student on tour in Washington D.C. can be as simple as visiting the National Archives and picking up a replica of the Declaration of Independence in the gift shop. “At the Air and Space Center, students get a kick out of buying the freeze dried ice cream that astronauts eat,” says Ann Greenwald.

Student travel groups often gravitate toward the more economical choices for shopping – such as a souvenir store. Ann Greenwald says there are two very popular stores among student groups in downtown Washington D.C.: “Students love Souvenir City & Joes. Both stores offer reasonably priced t-shirts and sweatshirts. FBI and Secret Service hats are popular among student travel groups and can be purchased at either store. Any shopping experience tied into the educational experience can be rewarding and fun.”

Combine Dining and Entertainment in Washington D.C.: Student Favorites

There are several great restaurants in the Washington D.C. area that combine dining and entertainment and are well loved by student travel groups. “McGill’s Pizza in Annandale, Virginia is a student favorite,” said Greenwald. “McGill’s has an arcade with a game room, so students can win things when they purchase tickets,” she added.
The ESPN Zone, in downtown Washington D.C. is also popular among student travel groups. It’s conveniently located around the corner from Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Greenwald says, “Student groups can have a meal, and if it’s included in their tour they receive a $10 card that may be used in the downstairs arcade.”
Another popular eatery for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. is the Hard Rock Café. “Student travel groups just think it’s cool to go into the Hard Rock Café,” says Greenwald. “There’s the memorabilia, pictures, and rock music playing all the time,” she continued, “and all of this adds to the appeal for student travelers.”
Consider combining food and entertainment on a student travel tour of Washington D.C. one evening to lighten the student group’s spirits and put them in a great mood for touring the next day.

Entertainment for Student Travel Groups
There are numerous choices for entertainment in Washington D.C. that will captivate student travel groups. Greenwald says that if it’s in the student travel budget, attending “Sheer Madness” at the Kennedy Center is an evening that student travelers enjoy immensely. The interactive murder mystery dinner theater format gets students involved with the theater production and outcome of the ‘whodunit’ plot.

Finally, an evening illuminated tour of the monuments in Washington D.C. can be a great way to draw student travelers into the experience of history. Greenwald commented, “ As the symbolism is explained at the various monuments, kids gain a better understanding of history. Instead of just staring at an inanimate object, I explain why the monument is there, and what the symbolism signifies. They come away with a greater understanding of U.S. history, and the permanent mark it has left on Washington D.C.” An evening walk around Washington D.C. in the spring or fall adds an outdoor dimension to touring that is appreciated by all. Students should plan accordingly by brining appropriate clothing for Washington D.C. weather during the time of year they visit.

These recommended choices for dining, entertainment and shopping for student travel are by no means a comprehensive list of the possibilities. The suggestions Greenwald makes for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. are simple and cost effective so they make great additions to a trip itinerary. For the student traveler, a tour of Washington D.C. is an intense four to five day learning experience which needs to be balanced with some good old fashioned fun. Request a Quote for a student travel tour of Washington D.C. that includes some great dining, shopping and entertainment choices.

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