Tag Archives: student trips 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.  

 

Highlights of the Smithsonian Museum for Student Travel Groups Visiting D.C.

Student travel groups headed to Washington D.C. have many different options for their itinerary.  In addition to the Capitol and the White House, student group leaders may also want to schedule time at the Smithsonian Museum.

Some of the Smithsonian Museums most popular with student travel groups are the National Zoo, the National Museum of  Natural History and the National Portrait Gallery.  Admission to the Smithsonian Museums is free. If there is enough advance planning, student travel groups can even take part in hands on educational programs.

The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is a popular point of interest for student travel groups - who want to see the Panda exhibit.

National Zoo
Like all of the National Museums, the National Zoo is free.  Students will see animals from A to Z, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.  In the Great Ape House students will see a tribe of western lowland gorillas, their youngest family member is Kibibi who was born in 2009.  Gibbons, monkeys, and lemurs are also in the ape house where the golden lion tamarins are always a popular spectacle.  Besides the zoo’s collection, it is also the home of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) where animals are studied for conservation, evolutionary genetics, and other sciences, making it an invaluable tool for many to access.  The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is part of the SCBI, dedicated to studying the migration of many species of birds for the sake of protecting their flight paths and habitats.  One of the other most popular exhibits is the pandas. With the birth of the newborn Bao Bao, the pandas are more popular than ever with all visitors.

The National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History holds the distinction of being the largest museum in the world.  Student tour groups can see the live butterfly pavilion with swallowtail and monarch butterflies waking from their chrysalises.  T-Rex, triceratops and other dinosaur bones fill the gallery preserving the ancient fossil records.  The Hope Diamond, the world’s largest blue diamond is on display.  A 24-foot giant squid is also on permanent display.  This museum is one of the largest science classrooms in the world, and their education department is dedicated to inspiring us all to understand the natural world and to be better stewards of our fragile ecosystems on our planet.  The Insect Zoo is also a must-see as part of your visit, complete with a volunteer tarantula feeding.  As entomologist Thomas Eisner says, “Insects won’t inherit the Earth—they own it now.”  Students may touch, hold and ask questions about the many-legged creatures crawling around the Insect Zoo.  There are an estimated 126 million items in the museum, both in laboratory archives and exhibition halls.  This collection rivals any the world has ever seen with specimens of minerals, plants, fish, insects, birds, mammals and reptiles; it’s one of the most exciting educational tours you can take.

The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is the only place outside the White House to have a complete collection of portraits of U.S. presidents. The education department uses art and history to introduce visitors to the galleries.  In the Gallery, students may see performances from musicians, actors and other artists who bring the collection to life.  There are also documentary films about the lives of significant Americans and their achievements that made them great.

Besides U.S. presidents, another permanent exhibition is called “American Origins, 1600—1900.”  There are 17 galleries devoted to a chronological journey of the first contact with Native Americans to the very beginning of the 20th century.  Three of the galleries in this exhibit are devoted to the Civil War, presenting a careful lens on the years of that bloodiest American war.  The museum’s curators work hard to collect and display portraits of diverse and respected men and women who have left an indelible mark on U.S. history and our rich and ever growing culture.  Other highlight portraits include Martin Luther King Jr., George Gershwin, Rosa Parks, Julia Child, Babe Ruth, Marry Cassatt, Marilyn Monroe and many others.  The National Portrait Gallery is a must for any serious school group tour in the Washington D.C. metro area.

There are other Smithsonian Museums that are popular with student tour groups, such as the National Air and Space Museum. When it comes to planning a visit to Washington D.C. there are so many choices. Teachers and group leaders tend to focus the itinerary on curricular objectives.   Learn more about a putting together a student tour of Washington D.C., request a qu0te online by filling out a brief inquiry.

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.

Student Travel Groups Heading to Washington D.C.: What’s New?

For teachers seeking to provide their students with an invigorating, immersive, and comprehensive exposure to art, culture, history, and just about anything else, Washington D.C. is the place to be.  A student trip to Washington D.C. is one of the gold standards of educational travel. Student travel groups have a range of famous landmarks at their fingertips, from Ford’s Theater to Arlington National Cemetery to the Library of Congress to the quaint hustle and bustle of Georgetown. There is something for everyone in this great city, and its liveliness makes for a one-of-a-kind experience that makes learning fun, exciting, and revelatory.

For students studying history, the city is nothing short of an invaluable resource.  Seeing everything could take weeks. For student tour groups on limited schedules, a focused itinerary for a three or four day tour works best.

The list of sites to see is growing now that Washington D.C. has added some new war memorials, a site dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a branch of the Smithsonian that focuses on African American History. Students who visit these places will gain a broader understanding of American history.

The World War II Memorial, on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues, is surrounded by the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and combines beautiful architecture with many moving testaments to those who participated in one of the 20th century’s greatest epochs. At the crossroads of these three great attractions, students will get an acute and unforgettable sense of the nation’s past. Featuring the famous “Rainbow Pool” and an its mingling fountains, the memorial is open from 9 am until 11:45 pm, and the National Park Service provides guided tours every hour, on the hour, from 10 am -11pm. Teachers can search the computerized World War II registry for information, and use the material to prepare students for this trip with advance lessons in the classroom.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, at 1964 Independence Avenue on the National Mall is a special address because the street number refers to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The MLK Memorial is a highly unique structure designed, like all of Washington’s memorials, to draw the spectator into a uniquely “hands-on” historical experience. Students can stroll the grounds, which are flanked by an abundance of cherry blossom trees and crepe myrtles, and read stone-etched inscriptions from the “I Have a Dream” speech.  The statue of Dr King itself, as massive and awe-inspiring as the Lincoln Memorial, is almost Egyptian/Sphinxlike in scope.  Visiting this new memorial to an American dedicated to the advancement of civil rights is a must for any group studying African American history and its historical and contemporary impact on the world we live in.

On the same topic, the Smithsonian Museum of African Natural History just had its groundbreaking ceremony in February of 2012, and is scheduled to officially open in 2013. The Museum of African Natural History has exhibits that are presently housed on the second floor of the National Museum of American History. From their current exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” to their upcoming show, ”The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” (slated to debut in December 2012), the Museum provides a comprehensive and essential overview of African American life down through the generations, from music to sports to arts and politics. Many have been anticipating the opening of this new Smithsonian Museum where African American culture and tradition is highlighted.

Like New York City, Washington D.C. is a city that can be regarded as one of “the crossroads of the world.” There is no end to the varieties of experiences here, whether a student group is touring its many ethnic neighborhoods, dining at a variety of wonderful restaurants, touring the museums, memorials or the Capital and White House, or just steeping themselves in its atmosphere and energy in general. Teachers and student groups have loved the U.S. Capital city for all of its history, government, culture, dining and entertainment and it’s splendid architecture and memorials.

Request a Quote for a Student trip to NYC today.

American History in Person: Junior High Student Trip to Washington DC & Philadelphia

Students from The Big Piney School in Wyoming in front of the Washington Cathedral.

Greg Bell, a junior high U.S. History and World Geography teacher from Wyoming, takes 30-40 students on an East Coast tour each year that includes visits to Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and even Gettysburg. These trips expand student learning about these subjects and expose them to a whole new world.  Bell’s group comes from Big Piney, WY — a town of about 1,000 people. It is 100 miles to the nearest shopping mall.  Visiting the urban areas of the East Coast is a real eye opener. Bell says, “I have taken students on these trips for 19 years now. Some people remark that it must get boring.  After all this time I have not grown tired of it. It is the highlight of my year. It’s a social studies teacher’s dream.”

Encountering American historical sites in person is different than learning about them through reading and lectures.  “I can lecture to the kids about George Washington,” says Bell, “but there is nothing like watching a kid walk through Mount Vernon on his own.” During their trip to Washington’s former estate, they met George Washington in person (a living history actor) and were able to ask him questions.

Greg and his son, Jefrrey Bell, stand in front of the Liberty Bell on their school trip to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile other actors were shooting replicas of Colonial weapons. Life in the Eighteenth Century is dramatized in front of the student group and they get to tour a well-preserved, authentic plantation from that time period – complete with living history actors who re-enact life in the Revolutionary period.

Curriculum objectives are closely tied to the itinerary of the trip. Bell’s U.S. History class begins with the American Revolution and ends with the Civil War.  That’s why a visit to Philadelphia is on the itinerary.  “It’s the birthplace of America,” remarked Bell. “We walk through Independence Hall and see the actual place where the Constitution was written.”  Students remember their time spent at Independence Hall vividly, and often speak about this, and other sites in their post trip discussions back at Big Piney School.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, but Washington D.C. is the hub of government today.  At Arlington Cemetery, Big Piney School students witnessed the changing of the guard. “In class,” Bell says, “we speak about what a reverent place it is.  We stop and see famous Americans buried there. Who, as an American, cannot be touched by looking off at those endless rows of white headstones?”  Another somber site students visit is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Bell covers the holocaust of World War II in his 7th grade World Geography class.  Bell steers the students away from the more graphic exhibitions. He says they can return in a few years, when they are older. But the most memorable exhibits for students are the display of the shoes of the Holocaust and Daniel’s story.  “There are mountains and mountains of shoes, and each pair represents a person – a human being,” remarked Bell.  Kids also relate to Daniel’s story of the holocaust, because he is about their age.  “Every year some of the kids come out of the elevator in tears,” says Bell.

The Big Piney School 8th Grade Class poses for a picture while they visit the East Coast.

Post trip in-class exercises include discussions of sites that sparked students’ creativity with challenges to recall the memory of what they’ve seen.  “When we return we have a sharing activity, comparing and contrasting what we’ve done in class versus what we saw on the trip,” said Bell.  Some students even make Power Point presentations to share photos of their trip with other students. Bell has designed a fun, interactive exercise for his classes.  “We play a little review game where the students get clues about the history and location of a site. Their task is to guess which site it is,” said Bell.  Exercises such as these stimulate memories of the trip and get them talking about it to one another.

In addition to being a history and world geography teacher, Greg Bell is also the Social Studies Chair for Sublette District #9. This position puts him in charge of setting up K-12 curricula for Social Studies teachers in his district. He is a husband and father of two children. His job is challenging, and his work impacts other teachers. Recently, some of Bell’s female students purchased him a bracelet that says, ‘what you do matters.’ He was wearing this bracelet during the interview. Clearly Bell’s teaching methods –which include these annual trips to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia — do have a lasting impact on students and the way he chooses to educate them.

Request a quote for educational tours that tie in closely to curricular objectives and are customized with teacher and student needs in mind. Or, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Components of a Successful Student Trip to Washington D.C. from a Teacher’s Perspective

Over the past 25 years I have worked with many K-12 teachers to organize student trips to Washington D.C. This spring I received a thank you letter from Shawn Tierney, a teacher at Santa Rita High School in Tucson, Arizona, detailing specific aspects of a trip to Washington D.C. that made it a “resounding success.”

I was happy to receive this detailed letter from Mr. Tierney. Parts of his commentary are included in this article. Tierney reflects upon the important aspects of student travel that help teachers and student tour companies to create a safe, rewarding educational experience for all involved.

Travel can be an eye opening educational experience. For many student travelers, it may even be their first time on an airplane or visiting a large urban area. In this particular instance, a class traveled from Arizona to Washington D.C. – which is a significant distance. Some students may only make this trip once in a lifetime.

In order for a student trip to be a memorable and pleasurable learning experience, coordination among a variety of individuals is necessary. A qualified student travel company will hire the most capable professionals. Student trips are influenced by: tour escorts, bus drivers, restaurant owners and managers, hotel managers, security guards, administrators and docents at various destinations, and the educational travel company. Of course teachers, students and chaperons are key to an excellent trip as well. When everyone works together in a synchronized way the trip is bound to be successful.

Starting the Trip on the Right Foot: Ground Transportation to the Phoenix Airport
Trip planning is a key foundation for success. The less a teacher has to worry about the details, the more he or she can focus on the educational objectives of the trip. Shawn Tierney mentioned he was relieved his selected ground transportation company, Mountain View Tours, has “bus drivers that were accessible and ready when we needed ground transportation in Arizona. It was as comforting to see the white bus turning into the school parking lot early Saturday morning, as it was to receive a call from the bus driver in Phoenix who was ready to pick us up at the airline terminal upon our return.”

Tour guides & Teachers Can Make or Break a Student Trip
When a tour guide and a teacher work well together, a school trip is sure to go smoothly. Kelly Everett was the licensed Washington D.C. tour guide assigned to work with Santa Rita High School students and tour leaders. Tierney says, “She was informative, proactive, and flexible. She made suggestions due to weather and traffic so that students had a thorough visit to Washington D.C.” When visiting any destination, adaptability and problem solving can make all of the difference. Tierney commented that, “the high point of the trip was when we were able to meet with our Congressional District Representative on the steps of the Capitol within 24 hours of the Health Care Reform Bill being passed. This required an overhaul of the schedule, which Kelly handled with composure and enthusiasm.” The experience of actually seeing the Congressional District representative following the passing of this historical bill was certainly a rare and rewarding experience for the school group. Tierney recalled, “the looks on the faces of our graduating seniors who saw, many for the first time, the interior of the Capitol, made it all worthwhile.”


Experienced Bus Drivers in Washington D.C. Save Time by Averting Hassles and Hang-ups

Bus drivers with a thorough knowledge of the streets of Washington D.C. as well as appropriate places to load and unload large groups when entering museums, government buildings, and other destinations, can save time on student trips. Shawn Tierney is a Washington D.C. native, so he knows full well the pitfalls and delays that might await any large school group or individual when winding through the streets of the city. According to Tierney, the bus driver, Bob Pearl, had, “knowledge of the maze of streets in D.C. This was critical in making many of our scheduled appointments. He did an excellent job of managing the one way streets and constant construction and security restrictions.” The bus driver was also “always mindful for the safety of the students.” The fact that the bus driver and the tour guide worked well together created a smooth trip.

Santa Rita High School students went on a four day, three night trip to Washington D.C. that included: Arlington National Cemetery, Ford’s Theatre, Smithsonian American and Natural History Museum, a visit to the Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington National Cathedral, the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and Mount Vernon.

Even though Santa Rita High School’s itinerary was full — there are even more worthwhile educational destinations to see in Washington D.C. For the March 2011 trip, Tierney plans to add another night so more destinations may be included. He also indicated he’d start planning in August 2010. Planning a student trip to Washington D.C. six months to one year in advance is always wise, especially if teachers want student groups to gain admission to the Capitol, White House, or Pentagon when visiting.

To review an itinerary or speak to an educational travel professional about the costs or details of taking a student trip to Washington D.C. email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote by taking a moment to fill out a brief, online questionnaire.

Teachers and Tour Escorts: A Working Relationship Can Produce Fun and Educational Student Trips

by Howard Clemens

When planning and executing student trips to Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando, FL or other U.S. destinations one of the primary components for a smooth and fun trip is good communication between a tour escort (also known as a tour director) and the teacher who is sponsoring the class trip.

Some student trips can be quite large, with groups ranging from 100 to 150 students, while other class trips may number between 40-60 students. No matter how large or small the group and how many buses are needed, a trained tour director is a necessary part of the journey and can make the difference in whether the student trip is well managed or not.

An educational tour company with experience in taking school groups on tour will always provide a tour escort as part of the overall cost of the trip. The tour escort is the representative from the educational travel company whose main task is to keep an open dialogue with the teacher when schedule changes or deviations in the itinerary are suggested or needed, among other things.

A tour director is not in charge of the trip. The teacher is the person who fulfills this role and takes ultimate responsibility for making decisions on behalf of the student group. The tour escort’s role is to assist the teacher when a decision needs to be made, and to inform him or her about any potential charges which may be incurred for making decisions that do not coincide with the planned itinerary.

Here is a breakdown of the role a tour director will play on a class trip and the responsibilities of the teacher or school group leader:

Tour Escort
• Introduces him or her self to the teacher before the trip via a personal telephone call.
• Uses the itinerary as a guide for the entire class trip.
• Keeps the group on schedule and manages any issues that may arise that will affect timeliness in attending scheduled events, destinations, eateries, etc.
• Acts as a liaison between the attractions, hotels, restaurants, bus driver, and other stops on tour.
• When requested by the teacher or group leader the tour director may assume more control of the group. For example, a teacher may be away on a personal phone call, trip to the restroom, or overseeing a problem with a student or group of students. The tour director will act as a temporary group leader when the teacher’s attention is elsewhere.

Teacher
• He or she is the group leader of the class trip and maintains control of the students.
• The educator dialogues with the tour escort and makes final decisions on adjustments to the itinerary or schedule.
• A teacher will consult with the tour escort on any potential or actual financial changes that may occur due to modifications of the itinerary.
• When disciplinary problems arise with a student or group of students, the teacher takes the lead role in intervening and correcting the problem.
• If there is a problem with the venue or schedule, the teacher is informed by the tour escort how the issue will be resolved and makes final decisions on the outcome of the situation.

The teacher and tour escort relationship is always more effective when both individuals keep the lines of communication open. An adept tour escort is a proficient communicator. An educator has to have excellent speaking skills to manage a classroom on a regular basis. When both of these key roles are working in unison, a student trip to any destination is a quality educational experience remembered fondly by all.

Tips for ‘Pitching’ Class Trips to Administrators

by Howard Clemens

Educators are already bogged down with many responsibilities both inside and outside the classroom. Some are in need of assistance to help plan and execute student trips. Working in the student travel industry for over 25 years, I have several ideas on how to make student trips more enticing to administrators. There are talking points for approaching the administration or even the school board about taking students on an educational trip.

I am the owner of a student travel company, Educational Travel Consultants. I have assisted many teachers in planning and executing class trips to Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando, and other U.S. destinations.

These days, class trips can be organized around science themes, performance trips, art tours, theater tours, eco-trips, and more. Taking a multi-subject approach to travel as a tool for educational enrichment means there are more possibilities for students to engage in active learning on a variety of topics.

Many teachers are required to validate student travel objectives to administrators or others. I would like to guide teachers in how to be successful at this challenge.

This article gives some tips on how to make the best approach to administrators and gain approval for a class trip to a desired destination.

1. Teachers Need to Make a Direct Connection between the Curriculum and the Student Trip. Teachers in subject areas outside of U.S. History can engage student learning with trips. The obvious choice for a trip to Washington D.C. is to tie it into an American History or Government class. But this is only one way of ‘pitching’ a trip to Washington D.C. A trip to Washington D.C. could be focused on science, be a band trip tied to a performance, include theater or provide a tour of art venues in town. My company is always ready to provide appropriate tour suggestions for any of these areas of study. Or we can book a standard class trip to Washington with a tour of the White House, Capitol, and downtown area.

2. Define the funding source clearly. Fundraising is an important issue and must be addressed in a meeting with administrators. Here is a brief list of some effective fundraising ideas that students can participate in that I recommend frequently: citrus fruit sales, selling roses and carnations on Valentine’s Day, sponsoring a car wash, selling scratch off cards, or selling CDs or DVDs. The teacher may want to do some preliminary research on or offline to confirm some of these fundraising methods and look at profit margins on products to set realistic fundraising goals for the class trip. Parents can also be asked to pay for a certain portion of the trip.

3. Present a Trip Budget: Break costs down by student and also add any other additional costs for the student trip that may be needed. A student travel consultant can assist with this. Present a comprehensive budget with an estimation of the number of people traveling on the trip.

4. Outline Financial Benefits. Teachers and chaperones are usually given complimentary trips by student travel companies. This eliminates costs for most adults to travel. This is one large benefit that is important, especially during tight budget years for the school.

5. Discuss Educational Benefits. What are the educational benefits of this trip? Will students come away with a firsthand knowledge of the way in which democracy works after visiting the Capitol and the White House? Have they benefited from visiting the estates of some of the founding fathers in Virginia, or seen the early canal system that used to move people and goods in the U.S? Indicate how students will be academically prepped before the trip. Give students a way to process the trip by building writing assignments into post travel curriculums.

6. Safety: Research and confirm that students, teachers and chaperones are insured on the trip, to alleviate liability to the school should anything occur. Select a well- established travel company that specializes in student travel and guarantees trip insurance. ETC carries a $2 million dollar liability insurance policy for all student trips. Another way to ensure safety includes something my company has done for ages. Our tour consultants book ONLY hotels with interior hallways and locked doors.

7. Chaperones: List the parents who will be accompanying students on this trip. Indicate the chaperone to student ratio.

These are just a few ideas that will guide an educator in preparing the foundation for an excellent educational experience that includes active learning: a class trip. Even during times of economic challenge educational travel should still be planned and executed, because it makes learning fun and is a desirable addition to any curriculum.

Email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com or Request a Quote for a student trip by filling out a brief online form today.

Student Travel Recommendations for the Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C.

The excitement is building for the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington D.C. For student tour groups that are traveling to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration there are specific rules which must be followed for this event. Security for our new president is a top concern among the intelligence and crime fighting community. Not only do these professionals have to do their part, but each American that attends this event will have to observe the rules to ensure greater security for all.

It is predicted there will be over two million people attending, so the lines are going to be long. Security checkpoints will be common and unauthorized belongings will be confiscated. Avoid losing your property and prepare appropriately.

Following are some requirements for inauguration day. Please read this list carefully if you are attending.

1 Please do not let your group carry baggage of any kind, no umbrellas, coolers, strollers, canes, chairs, knives, thermoses, signs, posters, backpacks, packages, bags exceeding 8″x6″x4″ or anything that might trigger security concerns. There are no childcare facilities. All attendees will be subject to security checkpoints and if you have any items not allowed, they will be confiscated.

2 There will be around 10,000 motor coaches transporting groups into Washington D.C. The coaches will not be able to get the groups in close, so I advise you to wear very comfortable walking shoes as student tour groups will most likely be walking long distances (up to 2/1/2 miles) and standing for several hours. The coaches will be parking at RFK Stadium or elsewhere along the route and either taking a shuttle, metro or walking to the Mall area.

3 Dress warmly in layers and wear a raincoat, as umbrellas will not be allowed. It can typically be a rainy or damp 37 degree day on Inauguration Day in Washington D.C. which is in the full throes of winter. So, dress appropriately.

4 Student travel groups may have other activities scheduled for the Presidential Inauguration day. In that case, don’t be surprised if they have to be canceled. It will take much longer than usual to get to the Mall and departing will take a significant amount of time also. A tour escort will be in charge of your trip and can guide you around that day. Be patient with your guide, do everything that he or she asks of you, and be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting. You are very fortunate to be attending this inaugural event and our advice is to just go with the flow and enjoy the celebration.

5 Plan to eat early and get on your way to the Inaugural event. An early breakfast at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. will allow student tour groups to get to the Mall to be in line for the security checks starting at 9:00 a.m.

6 If all goes as planned, student tour groups will be inside the Mall area for the Inauguration event on time. Many student tour companies will not be able to guarantee arrival on time. The parade is not scheduled till 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. Groups will depart for a motorcoach as soon as the parade is over.

Please visit http://inaugural.senate.gov/2009/ and click on the Key Topics on the right hand side of the webpage or http://inauguration.dc.gov/spectator_info.asp for more updated information.

Student travel groups and others are looking forward to the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington D.C. They are excited about witnessing history. Take care and follow instructions carefully in order to truly maximize enjoyment of this student trip. Be aware of surroundings and do not carry disallowed possessions so they will not be lost at checkpoints. Remember to leave items not allowed on the bus or in the hotel room. Student travel companies, tour guides, teachers, students and parents main concern is that everything goes smoothly and that students are secure. Be flexible and most of all have fun!