by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
When we were in grade school, the mention of an upcoming class trip meant only one thing and that was no school work for the day. Elementary school children may not appreciate the benefits and learning experience that would occur during a trip that the teacher or grade advisor planned. Thinking back to some of the highlights of my grade school class trips they were easily the ones into New York City which were the best. On separate trips we visited the American Museum of National History and saw dinosaur bones reconstructed to show the actual size of these prehistoric beasts that roamed the earth. We saw the huge glass enclosed scenes of animal wildlife that were donated by President Teddy Roosevelt after many of his African safari trips. The following year our class went to the Hayden Planetarium, which it was called way back until the 1980’s. Founded in 1933 and named after philanthropist, Charles Hayden, it stood until it was closed in 1997 and demolished. It is part of the American Museum of Natural History complex. Then in 2000, the $210 million Frederick Phineas and Sandra Priest Rose Center for Earth and Space, containing the new Hayden Planetarium, opened to the public, with Neil deGrasse Tyson as its director. For more information and what is there to see visit: https://www.amnh.org/research/hayden-planetarium However, my all time favorite trip was to the State of Liberty because it included a ferry ride to get to the Statue. At the time my sixth grade class went, we were able to climb up to the Crown to view the breathtaking sights of the city and harbor. My mother told me back then that when she went to school the students were able to climb up into the torch before it was closed due to safety precautions and weakening structure problems. I remember taking pictures with my Brownie Hawkeye camera to capture the Statue, my teacher and my classmate friends, photos that still bring a smile to my face when I browse through old photo albums from those years.
When our children went on school trips, many of them entailed staying overnight or even for five days. There were trips to a nature preserve for environment education studies located in the Hudson Valley where they studied all forms of nature appreciation. One trip our daughter’s fifth grade class made was to Lancaster County where the oldest Amish settlement is located. Parent chaperones were needed to help the teachers and I quickly signed up for that one since I had never been there. It was a wonderful trip “stepping back in time” to see the Amish horse and buggies riding through town. Later we toured an Amish village to see the goods they made, crafting skills, their farm equipment and their slower, calmer lifestyle. Our meals were eaten in restaurants that were served “family style” and it was some of the best food we’ve eaten outside of home cooked meals made by grandma! This experience would also make for a lovely family excursion this summer, to see a lifestyle totally different from what we know today. Visit https://www.discoverlancaster.com/
Fast forward and now I see the fantastic trip our granddaughter’s seventh grade class made earlier this year. The class went to Washington, D.C. on two separate trips as there was so much to see it couldn’t be done in just one visit. Signing up as a parent chaperone, our daughter had the chance to enjoy the same sights and educational experience along with her daughter’s class, teachers and other parents along, too. The trip included touring several rooms inside the White House, the Capitol Building, and having lunch in the Capitol Café. After lunch the class was invited to tour the office of Rep. Ben Cline who represents Virginia’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Cline even had a staff photographer take the student’s photo on the Capitol steps as a memento of this trip. Later that afternoon the students visited the Library of Congress to conclude this once in a lifetime excursion. Whatever the age of the child, whether nursery school with visits to a local petting zoo or pumpkin farm during autumn harvest to sleep away trips like the older students may enjoy, there is always something to learn. Here is a quote by George Washington that sums up the benefits to students, especially like a making a visit to Washington, D.C. George Washington – “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”