Of the many incredibly cool things I get to do, take a group of 8th graders to Washington DC and New York is by far one of the coolest. Chilton’s inaugural trip hosted 14 eighth grade travelers and three parents. Sharing the trip with Cooley Middle School and Loomis District, we embarked on what many will eventually consider the trip of a lifetime.
Things I learned:
- Alexandria, Virginia has ghost stories, downpours and lightning. Cutting the first night touring short is a good idea, since barbecued 8th graders are not tasty.
- Wake-up calls don’t work on all 8th graders. Banging on doors sometimes doesn’t either. However, threat of missing breakfast does.
- Security guards at the Capitol are never amused. “What about these guns?” (lifting arms to show muscles.)
- Putting an 8th grader in a dark room, after the first night in a hotel room with his friends, far away from his parents, will result in inevitable snoozing.
- You will NEVER have enough time to visit the Smithsonians.
- Your shoes can fill a swimming pool after a June rain in DC, but it’s just rain. You get wet.
- George Washington was wickedly handsome.
- You will fall in love with New York every time you visit. Every. Time.
- Broadway performers are some of the hardest working people in the world.
- Riding bikes in Central Park can be exhilarating, or you could break an arm.
- There are 20 different types of bottled water to purchase at JFK.
What I love more than anything about this trip is the reaction I get from students when we depart and for years after. For most, this is the furthest they have ever been away from home. More than anything, this is the first time they have ever been away from their parents for an extended time. It is their first brush with life beyond their town, beyond their world. It gives them a sense of place in this vast universe. Beyond even that, it gives them independence. They have to learn to coordinate showers and bathroom time with three other people. They have to be at a certain place at a certain time, without constant reminders from adults. They have to remember to NOT have a soda bottle in their carry on bag when entering the security checkpoint at the airport. Sure, I’m there to help, but ask any kid who goes on this trip. Somehow, he’s changed.
Much love to my 14 students who made this a memorable and amazing trip. xoxo