Tag: field trips
We were up early on Day 2, thanks to the Central Time Zone! After breakfast the girls headed to the beach at a State Park. Mr. Clark led us on a hike through the park. We saw the usual suspects of Florida wildlife here—gators, cranes, pelicans, turtles… but then it got interesting! Mr. Clark turned over a rotted log and discovered a broad-headed skink! Before we knew it he had caught that skink with his bare hands and was showing it to us all. What is a skink you might wonder? Its not a typo for skunk. A skink is a reptile in the lizard family. This one was about 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. See picture below! This is rare find in these parts and we were excited to see it!
We went for a long walk around the peninsula beach and enjoyed the beautiful emerald water and white sand of this region where sea cucumbers and sand crabs abound. And at the end of our walk, it was finally time to swim!
On our way home we stopped for an extra special surprise treat—Ice Cream, curtesy of a generous, anonymous donor. Thank you! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this delicious snack after a long day on the beach!
While the girls strolled along the beach, the boys went on a 7 mile hike. Here is how the boys described the hike: Long. Hot. Your legs are sore. Painful. A bunch of steep hills. Steep. Hot. Exhausting. I’d do it again.
Mrs. O’Driscoll led our evening discussion, continuing our theme of change. Some change we can control, and some we cannot. We are image-bearers of God, with gifts to share, but we are imperfect. God loves you in the midst of change—even on your worst day. He knows all your thoughts. You are not the same person today that you were last year, and you are not the same person you will be next year.
We finished off Day 2 with a game of “Murder” (Like “Wink” or “Mafia”) and popcorn…. And a good time was had by all.
by Amy Heidmann, parent blogger
As our trip comes to a close, there is much to reflect on. The weather was near perfection, ranging from 50-72 degrees with no rain. We had great favor regarding the T (subway). Most of the time, as we were arriving to the platform, a train would pull right up! Every meal had a unique feel, from lobster rolls at the hostel to choosing a local ethnic experience.
Our students got very good at traveling on mass transit. We walked a sum of 32 miles, so our legs are strong (some a little sore), plus we could justify eating all the yummy food. Our kids get along…surprisingly well. Many relationships were deepened and horizons expanded.
We have new perspectives of beauty through art. We saw (and even touched) coins older than the time of Jesus. Our students have a greater sense of awareness regarding their surroundings and being alert on sidewalks. Only one wheelchair was used in only one museum, and only three train cards were misplaced.
When asked about my favorite part of the trip, it is hard to choose one. It definitely falls into the category of ‘the sum of the parts is greater than the whole’. Each individual activity, meal, conversation, or transportation experience was excellent, and every one added to the cumulative experience making for what Dr. Clark called ‘a touchstone memory’. Our capstone experience today was Mike’s Pastry…and the cannoli was amazing!
by Melissa Paul, parent blogger
Boston is an amazing place to explore Christianity through history and art. We began our third day with the Harvard Museum of Natural History where we found way more than just bones of creatures from long ago. This museum has one of a kind specimens (think deer the size of a bunny), a skeleton of a water dinosaur longer than seven of our students lying head to toe, cases and cases of glass replicas of plants created to help researchers study plant life, and much, much more. These exhibits prompted questions by our students (Mr. Clark was our guide through these muddy waters) about evolution theories and other important topics.
The questions (yes, more questions) led to several great discussions. While they could (and probably do) have these types of discussions at school, somehow the fact that so much time, energy and expense was given over so many years to express Christian themes give perspective and make it real. At the art exhibit they experienced pieces by Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cezanne. Between all of the museums we have seen so far, the students have noticed a strong focus on Christianity and themes of faith. There are so many different ways to depict Mary and baby Jesus, but all of them cumulatively in one trip express the importance of the subject to artists of many different centuries.
Speaking of Harvard, our Harvard graduate chaperone gave us the inside scoop – the iconic statue with ‘Veritas’ (truth) written on the side is known by Harvard students as the statue of lies. In case you like trivia: the year is off by two, the statue is of a stand-in student, and the name listed is not actually the founder, he is really the first benefactor.
Trinity Church was beautiful…and filled with faith based art. The students had plenty of time to view and explore the church, then we were off to see the city from 50 floors up. The view was a highlight for many students, especially because you could walk all the way around and see the city from every angle. Talk about perspective. It was just beautiful, with buildings old and new, a smattering of sailboats, beautiful bridges and wonderful teenagers!
by Melissa Paul, parent blogger
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
Our day started at the Ford Theatre where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. Both the students and chaperones were surprised by how much they enjoyed their time there. We had a highly knowledgeable and entertaining park ranger who treated us to retelling the story and aftermath of Lincoln’s death in a way that felt like a performance, highlighting the history, drama, and surprising details of how Lincoln’s death effected all those involved. The ranger finished by encouraging our students to be lights of their generation, shining in the darkest hours.
Following our time in the theatre, we crossed the street to see the museum, where a spectacular three-story tower of books greeted us. It was amazing to think that many books had been written about Abraham Lincoln, but it really only contained less than half the books written about him.
Leaving the museum, we stopped for an open-air lunch where the students enjoyed spending time together. It’s amazing to see our children still entertained by simple things in life like looking for a four-leaf clover. The day had been mostly overcast up until this point, but after a few raindrops fell, we left the green space with the sun shining.
Then we walked to the recently opened National Museum of African American History, which was new to all of us. Reading and listening to the stories told throughout the museum of horrible atrocities of slavery, segregation, and oppression led to some profound questions and discussions. It’s one thing to read about this subject and another thing to hear first-hand accounts.
We began three levels down, in a dimly lit area, and as we moved up through history, the museum became a bright celebration of culture and achievement, literally moving from darkness into light.
We can’t wait for what our last day in D.C. will hold!
by parent bloggers, Chris Lemieux and AnnMarie Hoyt
We continued our forward progression in time as we visited two different plantations today. Our first stop was along the James River at the Shirley Plantation. The students were amazed to learn that a real family still owns and lives in the exquisite home. They open the first floor to tourists and live mainly on the second floor. Seeing generations of of family photos from the 18th century to present day was fascinating as the students wondered aloud how their lives would have changed over the years as the families grew up in that home.
Even though our students are not at school, today they got to do a bit of plantation life school. Slates, pencils and wool erasers were provided and students practiced some math equations or played tic-tac-toe. I suspect plantation school students brought many of the same challenges and joys to their teachers as our students do today. We also experimented with using our best penmanship with a feather quill and ink. Several of the students were amazed at how long it must have taken for a person to write even just one letter to a friend or family member. But perhaps there is something to be gained by needing to take time in crafting what to say.
We left the James River and headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains and Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello. Interestingly enough, the students learned that Jefferson was a cousin to the family who lived at Shirley Plantation, so we were retracing his steps between the two locations.
Monticello is a place of great beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and contradiction. The students discussed how a man who penned the words “all men are created equal” could own over one hundred slaves. A man who believed that educated men were capable of self government, yet prevented his own enslaved persons from that same self government. We stood in a slave cabin and gazed at the mansion Jefferson built for himself. The disparity was immense.
Our students saw firsthand that while great men can create beautiful places and craft life changing documents and found incredible systems of government, they are also capable of great blindness, wickedness, and sin. Our guide asked us to ponder the question of whether the issue of slavery negates the goodness of Jefferson’s many other contributions. I would encourage you to probe that question with your students when they return home.
The students were fascinated with all of Jefferson’s many scientific experiments and Mrs. Andrews was certainly grateful to hear our guides remark that science is everywhere. The gardens around Monticello are still being cultivated with descendants of the seeds Jefferson planted or Lewis and Clark brought back from their expedition. The clocks Jefferson designed still toll the correct hour, season, and even day of the week. History is living and our students marveled at the plantation life they experienced today. We saw both the greatness and the baseness of mankind.
And we were reminded in our evening devotion that there is One who Himself experienced greater heights than Monticello and took on greater baseness than slavery. And we are called to have the same mind as Christ Jesus. We are called to consider others better than ourselves, to be humble, to serve others. Jefferson served his country well. We want to call our students to serve each other well, and in so doing, they, too can change the world.
Tomorrow is our last day of touring historical sites as we visit Yorktown and return to Williamsburg (because one day just isn’t enough).
by Michelle Keller, parent blogger
Today, in many ways, was the highpoint of our week. Today was the day when we got all dressed up in our colonial costumes and explored Williamsburg as if we were colonial residents back in the 18th century.
Throughout the course of the day, we got to imagine what our lives would be like in a myriad of different situations. We heard snippets of speeches from the House of Burgesses session in which the colonists voted for independence. We put ourselves in the shoes of a woman on trial for murder (or was it self defense?), and wondered what it would have been like to not be able to afford representation, and to have a jury that was more swayed by their physical discomfort in a room without heat or bathroom facilities than by the weight of the evidence.
We crowded into the old gaol (jail) cell and imagined what it might be like to have to spend time there – particularly if Black Beard the Pirate’s gang was sharing the space with us. In a radical shift of social cultures, we then walked through the Governor’s Palace and imagined our lives if we had been in the upper 5% of income levels in colonial Williamsburg. It should come as no surprise that the students would happily choose life in the ornate Governor’s Palace over the old gaol cell.
Our tour guide remarked that she had rarely seen a group of students so intent on what was being said, so eager to ask good questions, and so invested in the experience.
For most of the folks in colonial Williamsburg, life was neither in the jail or in the Governor’s Palace, but lived in very everyday ways as they plied their trade in a variety of occupations. We contemplated what life would be like if we were apprenticed in an apothecary shop, or as a silversmith. Many of the students were struck by the limited opportunities available to women in colonial times, and how different their lives would have been as a result. We met doctors, Cherokee Indians, saw Colonel Washington, watched cloth being woven, shoes being repaired, and dresses being made. Some of us sampled colonial libations (of coffee, tea, and chocolate) and in so doing met, Ann, a slave. Over half of the population in Williamsburg at the time would have been enslaved persons. It was an interesting opportunity for the students to reflect on the value of human beings as image bearers of God.
But colonial life was not all about work, and neither was our day. We enjoyed a rousing relay of hoop races, and just running in the green space. It was so fun to see the students enjoying the opportunity to play together.
As it was our regular chapel day, we had the opportunity to participate in the noonday prayer service at Bruton Parish Church. The students were delighted to read the names on the pew boxes of dozens of famous colonial families, and to imagine attending a service when dignitaries such as George Washington might have been present.
We had dinner in a colonial tavern and even enjoyed some live music. We ended our evening with a ball in the capitol building. Yes, your child danced! Sadly, no photos were permitted, though some of the students might be grateful for that. But I can assure you that there were smiles a plenty as they learned the steps and found they could do more than they thought.
It was a full day, a bit of an overwhelming day. We prayed for dry weather after yesterday’s drenching, and God was very gracious to us in providing an almost entirely dry day. We were fully immersed in the life of a colonial and the students were filled with wonder and questions and amazement.
In our devotions for the day, we reflected on how the colonists placed great value on excellence, order, and beauty. The students remarked on the extreme care and pride with which the tradespeople worked. The end of the day was a fabulous opportunity to reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The students were able to think about how they saw that verse at work today, and how they see it at work in their own lives. Our students are not just on an entertaining trip, though they are having a great deal of fun. It’s not just an educational trip, though they are learning an immense amount. They are thinking about the bigger issues of life as they reflect on life in the 18th century as compared to life in the 21st century. May those thoughts continue to shape their lives far beyond this trip.
by Michelle Keller, parent blogger
Dr. Clark graciously supplied the title for today’s Williamsburg blog post. It was indeed a rainy day – all day long, a steady, soaking rain. The locals in Jamestown said that it was the first rainy day they’d had in ages and they were grateful for it. Perspective is everything! Our students persevered in the midst of rain, and the gift shop was happy to sell a slew of brightly colored ponchos and keepsake Jamestown umbrellas.
We had an amazing set of guided tours and the students were happily engaged in answering and asking questions about the life of the first English settlers in Jamestown. They were able to look around at the area and discuss the benefits and drawbacks to founding a settlement in Jamestown. As we learned about the “starving time” when 4 out of 5 settlers died, the students were both sobered by the reality of what the people in Jamestown faced, and grateful for their own abundance. Later in our evening devotional time, one of the students reflected on that time and prayed for God’s grace to help her remember to be thankful for even the small things. What a joy to see the students connecting history and faith and gratitude!
Certainly one of the treats of the day (and not just because it was warm and dry) was a visit to the Jamestown Glass Blowers House. I won’t spoil the surprise for the families at home, but students did get to practice their math skills in the gift shop!
Our afternoon was spent immersing ourselves in the culture of the early 17th century settlement of Jamestown. We divided into two separate groups to enable more hands on time. The students were immediately caught up in learning what brought the English to Jamestown and how they interacted with the Powhatan indians who already lived here.
We learned about different weapons, tools, housing materials, and daily life of the Powhatan. The students even had a chance to try their hand at tanning a hide using only a shell for scraping.
From the English perspective, we saw how simple machines worked to load ships, how to navigate and record a ship’s journey. After going below deck of the Susan Constant (and exact replica of one of the ships carrying the original Jamestown settlers) and seeing how cramped and dark the space was, many a student (and chaperone) remembered our sixteen hour bus ride with a great deal of fondness. We had a chance to rest a bit inside the church building and reflect upon the importance of religion to the early settlers.
We finished up the day exploring the fabulous gallery of interactive exhibits exploring early colonial life and the intersection of three vastly different cultures – the Powhatan, the English, and the African slaves from Angola. As I looked around at the students enjoying a meal together after a long, cold, and wet day. I saw multiple different cultures all gathered together laughing, talking, and enjoying the full bounty of God’s goodness.
Our evening devotion closed with Psalm 18:10:
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.”
It was so encouraging to hear the students reflecting on all the ways in which they are “kept” and to talk to them about God’s goodness in His keeping. Placing that in the context of the intensively difficult circumstances faced by the settlers at Jamestown makes the promises of Scripture al the more sweet.
by parent blogger, Michelle Keller
The hour was early, the sky was dark, but our spirits were high as we set off for our week long Williamsburg trip. The students were all excited to find out what groups they were in and get loaded on the bus.
The prospect of sixteen hours on the bus was daunting, but the excitement carried the day. Some students slept, some talked, some read, some played games, many songs were sung and stories told.
Our first stop was at the Florida/Georgia border where we indulged in the first of many group photos. Then back on the bus until a lunch stop at Cracker Barrel. It was so fun to watch the groups work together on figuring out what to order, how much to tip, and how much money that would leave them for dinner (and souvenirs later).
We had a good bit of rain throughout the afternoon, which meant that our afternoon break for “recess” was little more than a quick stretch of the legs on the walk to the restroom. But the students made up for it with some post dinner calisthenics – there were pushup challenges, plank competitions, and some arm wrestling.
After dinner, we were all excited to be in the final leg of our journey. The students did their first devotional in their chaperone groups and shared prayer requests. We know all our families at home are praying for us, and we are so thankful! After devotions, and some Scripture recitations, we treated the students with a showing of the movie “Up” which took us right up to our arrival at our hotel.
It was a long day, and everyone is tired. All in all, the long bus ride was such a fun opportunity to see our fifth graders learning to enjoy one another and find creative ways to entertain themselves and pass the time. I heard very few “are we there yet” questions, but did hear lots of laughter and good, encouraging conversation. What a delight!
Tomorrow we are off to Jamestown!