Mama, I’m Coming Home

“I have found out there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

There is no way to adequately communicate how proud you would be of these students and the way they have pushed themselves through very early mornings like today. The bags were packed, meals eaten, and buses departed by 7am. There was noticeable excitement on the bus to get home and see parents, pets, and even a few siblings.

The teachers, administrators, and chaperones made a collective decision that arriving at 11:30pm was not going to cut it so the trip blogger got promoted to travel Nazi, and we came up with a plan to shed some travel time. Phase one of the plan was to create a competition between the boys and girls to see who could finish their Cracker Barrel lunch first. The lunch orders were out of the children’s mouths before the waitresses had finished the welcome, people were paying and using the bathrooms while the food was still being prepared, and the boys were running back on the bus in 54 minutes and 48 seconds. George Washington would have been proud. The girls made a valiant effort, but finished up about 13 minutes later. We are now 35 minutes ahead of schedule.

Phase two: our scheduled ‘recess’ stop was turned into a quick restroom break and just enough running around to allow the girls to catch up. We are now 50 minutes ahead of schedule and there is not a more important number on the bus than our GPS ETA.

Our bus drivers are fully behind our cause at this point pushing the buses to the limit of their governors and quickly making course corrections around accidents utilizing country roads as necessary. This is probably a good time to talk about the legend that is Terry. Terry is the boys’ bus driver who has won the hearts of everyone on the trip. Terry, a very large former football player and corrections officer who seamlessly blends teddy bear and Incredible Hulk, loved these kids, giving each student a high five every time they loaded and unloaded from the bus. Only Ms. Sherrick was able to squelch chants like “Terry! Terry! Terry!,” “Terry 2020!,” “What’s your favorite food? Terry-aki!” or, my personal favorite, “What’s the best dinosaur? A Terry-dactyl!” It is truly astounding how much you can do with the name Terry.

Somewhere in the deceivingly large state of South Carolina, the students and chaperones all participated in the 15th annual Geneva’s Got Talent, brought to us by ‘Terry-ble Productions.’ We saw magic tricks, comedy routines (thank you Pax), skits, juggling, commercials, music and a grand finale by the Renfrow, Dietel,  and Davis trio singing “Sweet Williamsburg.”

The girls took advantage of their newer and faster (and better smelling) bus and pulled ahead, but that was time easily made up at the next Cracker Barrel…or so we thought. We made record time at dinner thanks in no small part to the chaperones who ordered a to-go box to arrive with their meal, but just as they were getting their first bites in the parking lot, we realized we had no bus drivers. The drivers for the last leg were an hour and a half late and all our progress is wiped away. This must be how Cornwallis felt at Yorktown.

Again, I just can’t say enough about the resilience of both the kids and chaperones as we watch the ETA creep back up toward 11pm. Somewhere around north Georgia the bus bathrooms were opened, cruise controls set, and these busses were not stopping until we see The Geneva School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all, this was a tremendous trip where we learned the history of our country, deepened our friendships, and grew in our gratitude to God. The students are already looking ahead to the 6th grade trip to Washington DC, that is, if Jesus Terrys.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Independence And Providence 

But by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me. – George Washington

Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle and after all could not bring him to the ground – A Native American fighting Washington in the French and Indian War

Our last day in Williamsburg started off a bit slower and (sigh) baconless. I guess the hotel learned their lesson. We bussed over to Yorktown where we learned the French really can fight! They still had a sour taste in their mouths after losing most of their New World claims in the French and Indian War, so they supported the cause of American independence and, in so doing, insured that they would not be speaking German in the 21st century. The French may have waited until momentum was on the side of the colonialists to commit soldiers, but for most of the war they supplied the Continental Army with everything from munitions to uniforms.

Yorktown was the battle that truly secured our freedom and put an end to the war, so we were thrilled to be able to tour this site with the insight of a Park Ranger who held every student’s attention. She told us how Washington made the British think he was going to attack New York and then, in the heat of summer, marched his men 450 miles south in less than six weeks to surprise General Cornwallis who was now blocked by Washington on land and the French navy by sea. It was clear to the students that to lead an army, you not only have to be brave, wise and hardworking, but excel in math, science and history as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After touring the battle site, we went to the Yorktown Victory Center to see what life on and off the battle field would have looked like. Life as a family in the colonies will shame the hardest working among us. Only the coldest parts of the year, when everyone is snowed into a one or two room house for weeks on end, would there be any rest. We watched as historians dressing the parts walked us through planting farms, making dinner, patching clothes and more. Some of our boys took a special interest in hauling water to do laundry so don’t be afraid to show them the washing machine when they come home.

When war broke out, though, families had some hard decisions to make. Does the husband go fight? If so, for which side? Do the wife and children remain at home or join the husband at camp? Park historians showed us what the life of a soldier would have demanded. The camp was cramped and smelly, the food was meager and more soldiers died from disease than gunshots. The students were shown their tight quarters (6 to a small tent), where food was prepared, how the injured were tended to, how troop movements were organized and even how secret codes were sent between troops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One soldier demonstrated how a real musket fires and the origin of the phrase ‘half-cocked.’ We learned that rifles had been in use for some time by the outbreak of the war, but muskets were chosen for our armies because, despite being much less accurate, they could reload in a fraction of the time and send out three times as much lead. The kids had fun trying to shoulder this musket, but proved the British would have been in no danger:)

We talked about how hard it is to imagine a war in our own backyard raging twice as long as American involvement in WWII, the cost paid on all sides of the Atlantic or Americans, French, Native Americans and Africans all storming Yorktown armed side by side. But even more astounding are all the very little things God alone can control that came together to insure an American victory. The storm that protected Washington in Boston. The fog that protected Washington’s retreat in Long Island. The storm that prevented General Cornwallis from retreating at Yorktown. The bullets that simply could not hit Washington. As you retrace the steps of the American Revolution, you can’t kick the feeling that God wanted this country to form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids spent the end of the day back in Colonial Williamsburg seeing some more of the old town, getting muddy in the brick making building and spending whatever money they had left on trinkets they won’t care anything about in a week. But, we did create great memories!

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Monumental Men With Monumental Flaws

If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

The day started early again, but the students quickly revived when bacon made its first breakfast appearance. There is no way our hotel was prepared for the amount of bacon our students consumed. You just don’t think you’ll ever have to make rules like ‘one cereal bowl full of bacon per person.’

After consulting our Apple Watches and Fit-bits, Tanner Dietel gets the award for most steps in a single day at (are you ready?) 26,610! The commitment of the Dietel men to this trip is only surpassed by the pig who provided our bacon.

 

 

 

 

 

Fully fueled, we made our way to the Shirley Plantation, a highlight for many in our group. Shirley was the first English plantation in America designated in 1613 by King James to grow the tobacco that would fund Jamestown. The 700 acre plantation (down from 4000 acres in the 17th century) is fully functional and run by the 11th generation of the original family. It would be hard to find a founding father who had not been hosted at the Shirley Plantation.

So, how in the world did this gorgeous home on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon line survive the Civil War? It just so happens that General Robert E. Lee grew up here and one of his best friends from school was a Union general who prohibited any Union forces from harming it. One small perk of a civil war, I guess. The students toured both the home (which is still occupied) and grounds and even learned to use quill ink pens and small pieces of slate just like school children of that day. It would have been a truly amazing place to grow up…if you were white.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the English importation of African slaves to America and this plantation would have received the earliest shipments. By the American Revolution, African slaves made up 52% of the population of Virginia. On this tour, our students were reminded that our freedom came at the cost millions of enslaved Africans.

While the Spanish and Portuguese imported primarily male Africans who worked harder, English slave trade imported women as well. When the importation of African slaves was banned in the US in 1808, the atrocities continued as the large families that had developed in Virginia were separated and sold to supply the labor demands of the southern states.

The tour of historical contradictions continued over in Charlottesville as we visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. To say the plantation is pretty would be like saying UVA has a good basketball team. It is the only house in the US designated as a United Nations World Heritage site. Sitting almost 900 feet above the town, we looked as far as the eye can see in almost every direction. The house is an engineering marvel from the clock, compass and day and wind indicator at the front door to the mechanized dumb waiters that silently deliver bottles of wine from the basement up into hidden compartments in the dinning quarters.

The students got to meet our third President in all his brilliance, boldness and blemishes. How is it that the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence could write that all men are created equal, yet own 607 slaves, only seven of whom he would ever free? How is it that he could give his life to form a government for the people, but exclude those in closest proximity to him?

Today encapsulated much of the triumph and the cost of this great experiment. It is a great opportunity for us to consider our own blind spots and the grace of our Lord Jesus who willingly gave up His freedom that we could be set free.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Patriots and Patrons

If this be treason, make the most of it – Patrick Henry making his case for independence in Colonial Williamsburg

We traveled forward about 150 years from the Jamestown settlement today to tour Colonial Williamsburg, the capitol of Virginia from 1676-1780, named after King William. Thanks to money from John D. Rockefeller, the entire colonial center from this era has been perfectly restored and staffed. The students, dawned with breeches and doublets, were able to visit the blacksmith, printers, silversmith, gaol (jail), the House of Burgesses, the old governors palace, and many other 18th century businesses. We got a glimpse of what trial without representation looked like and we were, once again, thankful for 21st century America.

Our tour guide taught us all the manners expected of the day including how to bow, curtsy and where to the find the ‘necessary’ when necessary. We visited a wig store for those willing to spend a month’s salary on dark hair for the day and another month’s salary on gray hair for the evening. The students were proud to have learned that George Washington resisted the style of the day and wore his own hair. That’s the kind of first president that you want!

The staff in this town are much more than actors. They are historians who can knowledgeably answer any questions the students have. When explaining that we are from Florida, one colonialist responded, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Florida.” We all had fun dressing up in the garb of the time, but one of our parent chaperones, Warren Dietel, gets the best colonial dress award. He was actually stopped multiple times by inquisitive tourists who thought he was part of the show.

We were able to attend a noon day prayer service at the 300 year old Burton Parish Church. The names of the dignitaries who frequented the old church were written on the pews and in the center was a large, throne like chair reserved for the sitting governor of Virginia. You can imagine the self-control the students had to muster up to leave that chair alone! Speaking of self-control, we are so proud of these students. Almost everywhere we go we are complimented on how well-mannered, inquisitive and engaged they are.

If you ask your kids what their favorite part of colonial Williamsburg is, you will likely hear, “Anything with A/C!” Yes, it was hot, but that is all part of the experience 🙂  The boys shed all they could, but the women, well, not so lucky. Fortunately, it did cool down around dinner and then…off to the dance.

The students went to a colonial ball in the Capitol Building and it began just as awkwardly as you would imagine. They were paired up and taught three English dances and one French dance. The students did beautifully, though, and gave you the impression they might even enjoy it.

by Jim Davis, patent blogger

Sailing, Settling, Starving And Surviving

Field trip
noun
1. a trip made by students or research workers to study something first hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No time wasted on this trip! We ‘slept in’ until 6:45 and then down to breakfast in the hotel. Today is our visit to historic Jamestown. Jamestown is the oldest permanent English settlement in the New World preceded only by the English ‘lost colony’ at Roanoke and, of course, the Spanish settlements including St. Augustine.

Thanks to the expert knowledge of the National Park Service, we quickly learned that life on the settlement was more difficult than Disney’s Pocahontas movie would have you believe. This settlement was owned and established by the Virginia Company of England in 1607 for the sole purpose of finding gold and making a profit. The Virginia Company might have done well to ask themselves why it is that neither the Spanish (who had been in the New World now for over a century) nor the Native Americans had any interest in this location. Could it be that the Jamestown settlement contained no gold or fresh drinking water and was surrounded by inhospitable natives?

After losing about 80% of the settlers to starvation and Indians, resorting to cannibalism and unsuccessfully trying to sail back to England, the settlement was finally saved by the introduction of tobacco which could be grown in the fertile soil of Virginia and sold back in London. A far cry from gold, but the snuff came through. Women were then introduced to the settlement after 15 years (now John Rolfe’s marriage to Pocahontas is coming into focus:) and the road was paved for this single settlement to become 13 original colonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then toured a live archeological site that is literally changing history. The archeologist showed us a Spanish gold ring mounted with a large gem they just uncovered from about 1600 along with a some Spanish beads from about 1550. So, how did jewelry from the enemy make its way into a British settlement? The running theory is that the Spaniards in St. Augustine traded these items with Native Americans and these items worked their way through the Native American trading routes ultimately finding their way to Jamestown. It was clear to all the students that they would need every subject in school to participate in digs like this.

Who knew glass could be so interesting? We watched a live reenactment of a typical 1600’s glass blowing. The clay oven had to be 2400 degrees Fahrenheit which required such huge quantities of wood that the settlers could only make glass about four days each month. So, what did the settlers make? Everything from vases to glasses designed specifically for tavern drinking games.

In Jamestown, three very different peoples from opposite ends of the Atlantic collided. The Native American Powhatton tribe (Pocahontas’ people), the West African slaves and the British settlers comprised a tense cultural triad that is on display in an exact replica of both the settlement and Powhatton village complete with live actors describing life here in the early 1600’s.

How does 140 days crammed into quarters not much larger than a couple classrooms sound? That is a picture of the voyage to the New World. It could have been faster, but the British did not know a direct way to Jamestown so they had to follow the well established Spanish routes which took them down to Africa, over to the southern Caribbean islands and then north to the Virginia settlement. We boarded a perfect replica of these ships docked in the harbor and learned about life on the sea from live sailors. All of your children should return home with a new appreciation for their bedrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day ended with a devotion in Psalm 32 and Psalm 18. Life as a settler was precarious to say the least. The Bible tells us, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Our hope is that after today the students can see this verse through a different set of eyes.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

Road School

Are we there yet? Why don’t they turn on those TVs? How are we still in South Carolina? Can we watch the NBA playoffs where we are going? Is there Wifi on this bus? Did someone use the bus toilet? Was I supposed to bring a toothbrush?

In just about the time it would have taken us to fly to Tokyo, our bus caravan made it through five states to Williamsburg, VA. We battled device withdrawal, car sickness and Avengers: End Game spoilers, but we are here. A huge thanks to our teachers and administrator, Leslie Sherrick, Sarah Davenport and Keira Raesly, for all they did to get us here!

 

Our day started early at TGS. We divided into our chaperone groups, usually consisting of four students to one chaperone, and loaded up before sunrise. The first stretch was quiet as most students went back to sleep, but everyone was wide awake for our first break at the Georgia Welcome Center where we stretched our legs and took a group photo. Someone really needs to call their state congressman and tell them Floridians want to be welcomed with coffee!

This trip is all about cultural learning so we ate lunch at Savannah’s finest Cracker Barrel where the walls are littered with old items like radios, telephones, typewriters and stop lights. We quickly felt old when we realized that many of the children had no idea what those items were! Each child is given cash for the day and taught to budget two meals and factor in tax and tips. We soon saw who the spenders and savers were! The chaperones put their dialectic skills to the test as they worked to convince the children that 15 cents is not an appropriate tip for an $8 meal.

South Carolina seemed like it would never end, and road construction didn’t help any, but the kids were great occupying themselves with card games, books, and stories. We stopped at a rest area and brought out the frisbees, footballs, and soccer balls to work out some energy inside a well established parental perimeter. Then, back in the bus for some more South Carolina. I don’t think the Pacific Ocean made Louis and Clark happier than the North Carolina state line made these buses.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so we ate at another Cracker Barrel in North Carolina and we all observed how the accents have noticeably changed. Many of the boys ate quickly so they could maximize their checkers time before getting back on the road. The staff of both Cracker Barrels commented on what a well behaved and well mannered group we have. We were proud leaders, but you should be even more proud parents.

Once on the bus, the children worked on a devotional and then….finally…. got to watch a movie as we left North Carolina for the basketball country of Virginia:) We arrived at our hotel and managed to get most of the teeth brushed before bed.

As we ‘road school’ this week, our hope is that we would be travelers instead of mere tourists. Maybe even time travelers. Would you please join us in praying that we wouldn’t just learn history, but meet it.

by Jim Davis, parent blogger

War and Peace, the colonial version

On our final touring day of the trip, we visited one of the most significant sites, Yorktown. As any Geneva 5th grader could tell you, October 19, 1781 marks the end of the Revolutionary War, despite the Treaty of Paris not being signed until 1783. Today we got to experience life in camp as a soldier and to walk the actual battlefield where our nation’s freedom was won.

We learned that the space on our bus isn’t nearly as cramped as the space in a Private’s tent, and that sharing a bed with one friend is substantially better than sharing a tent with five. The students were both entertained and a bit horrified to learn how medical care worked for a colonial soldier. Any soldier labeled as “sloven” could be forced to wear a sign around his neck as punishment. Be sure to ask your student about that, and maybe prepare your own sign as motivation.

Our courage was tested during a weapons demonstration, and most of us freely admitted that the site of a hundred armed soldiers aiming their guns at us would cause us to turn and run without even a shot being fired. The courage of the colonial soldier in the face of overwhelming odds was truly remarkable.

While the battlefield at Yorktown may not have all the bells and whistles that some of our other stops did, the import of what happened there cannot be overstated. Seeing the lush green field, the tall trees, the remnants of revolutionary trenches, it’s hard to imagine that this same field would have been marked with rubble, bodies, and the terror of war as our country fought for her independence.

As we all lined up for a group picture in front of the Yorktown monument, I was especially struck by what a great group of students we have. Our students are learning not just the dates of the history of our country, but the foundation of our nation’s identity. They will have the opportunity to advance the cause of freedom because of the generations that have preceded them.

It was a pleasure to meander around Colonial Williamsburg one last time this afternoon. I watched as students carefully selected gifts for family members back home, or as mementos for themselves. I was privileged to be present as a student faced her fears and sat down at a replica of an ancient harpsichord and played. I witnessed polite and respectful students ordering a meal in a colonial tavern, graciously thanking their hosts, and engaging in lively conversation with their peers and chaperones around the dinner table. They were each eager to share their experiences, and re-tell many of the things they learned in this week.

It has not been a week free of difficult situations, but our students have persevered. Our devotions for the evening focused on love. Not the love that is warm and fuzzy, rainbows and unicorns. The love that is patient, and kind; a love that bears all things. We discussed ways that we have been shown love by others this week and ways that we can show love to others tomorrow on the long bus ride home. I am confident that our students will rise to the occasion tomorrow and will return to you with stories of love shown even on a sixteen hour bus trip home.

We look forward to seeing you all Saturday night!

The Pleasure and Pain of Plantation Life

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

Living Life like a Colonial

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

The Rain Could Not Dampen Our Spirits

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.

Next up…Williamsburg!

 

by parent blogger, Michelle Keller

The Geneva School
The Geneva School
July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 19, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 6)

    Date: July 15, 2024 - July 19, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 20, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 21, 2024
  • USA Archery JOAD Target Nationals

    Date: July 17, 2024 - July 21, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 22, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

July 23, 2024
  • Summer Camps (Week 7)

    Date: July 22, 2024 - July 26, 2024
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

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