May 2013 - GO Educational Tours
Students First – The Focus of an Educational Tour
We have one priority at GO Educational Tours – it is the students and their travel experience. We train our GO Leaders to be student focused to continually enrich their educational travel experience .
Our itineraries are well balanced. We don’t try to fit everything in a few days to justify the cost. An overwhelming schedule can be counter productive and the retention factor lower as students go through attractions and information fatigue. It has been our experience that most tours return with a lower satisfaction rate when too many sites and attractions have been scheduled. The pace of a tour should be good enough to avoid lulls and optimize transit time while taking into consideration the personality of the student group.
One thing we like to avoid is to have to leave a site or attraction when the students’ interest is fully engaged. Let’s say your on a student group tour to Washington DC, for example, there is a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery is it worth rushing to the next appointment? Or staying to observe? Sometimes its best to stay and live that moment and then our GO Leaders will adapt the schedule to the changing timing.
Is it worth cutting time at the Jefferson Memorial to get to the next memorial? Having that flexibility and adaptability on your educational tour is key to a successful class trip. It makes sense and it is very appreciated. Having tour leaders with this dedication, awareness and attention on a trip can make a very big difference.
Whether you are on an educational tour or a class field trip to New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Montreal or Quebec City an itinerary is created to make sure the tour is conducted at a comfortable pace and also to get as much as possible from the tour.
We keep this in mind and it is part of our training for our GO Leaders: adaptability, flexibility and understanding all for the benefit of the students- it is the students’ tour after all. We train our leaders to give their all and especially to smile at all times.
After all the secret to a great middle and high school trip starts with a smile.
Thinking about a trip with your students?
Give us a call at 855 446-8687 or click here.
Oh, and if you can, smile while you do it.
Its a BIG World, GO, Travel it.
Educational Tours to New York City
Creating Memories on Educational Tours to New York City
Organizing the best educational tour for your student requires carefully selecting your tour company. GO Educational Tours is dedicated to the success of each tour as we value and respect the travel experience of student travelers often times their first.
For example we had a great travel weekend last week to New York City with a group of students. What is the most satisfying part of organizing middle and high school educational tours for students is knowing you are part of creating lasting memories for young travelers.
This tour to New York was a great example. A group of students from Grand Bahamas going to spend 5 days in New York City, the Big Apple. A great opportunity on this educational trip to create memorable moments. Starting with a blank canvas we could build our tableau of souvenirs from the very moment the student group got there. Right from the start the idea would be to make sure they were immersed in the contrast big city life offered over island life.
Arriving in JFK we collected the student group on our motorcoach and the drive into the city was a great opportunity to connect them with the city. We talked about Verrazano, Hudson, the Dutch, New Amsterdam and how it was renamed in honor of the Duke of York when he seized the island of Manhattan in 1664. The history and characters were introduced and would be referred to when they took a city tour with a local guide.
The yellow cabs – so many and why they are such a force economically and how they affect the socio economics of the city; from car ownership, public transportation, economics, and how despite being a megalopolis, it is still a very intimate city of neighborhoods.
We talked about steam from the NYSC manholes, the trap doors on the streets, the fire escapes on the front of the buildings and other aspects so unique to the city.
Covered the safety aspects of walking in the city as a group of students on an educational tour – vigilance, watching over your money, and the buddy system.
Once in the heart of the city we started right away with a walk and discovery of Times Square to get a late afternoon snack and also to stretch the legs after a long morning of air travel.
Then we walked a bit more to take in the sight, sounds and smell of New York. No educational tours can be complete without walking the city. It is the best way to discover New York on any student tour and wearing comfortable shoes is important.
Especially for this group from the Bahamas. It was an opportunity for them to get a complete contrast from the quiet beat and rhythm they are used to. What they discovered was he hustle and bustle, noise, speed and dynamic vibe of the city are unavoidable and they were quickly immersed in the city’s action on the first day.
The first activity was to go to the TOP of the Rock at Rockefeller Plaza. All student group tours love the experience and we prefer it to the Empire State. The observatory is vast and allows a great panoramic view of the city and the Empire State Building. Here the students also see some of the other prominent buildings of the city; from the Freedom Tower, CitiGroup and Sony building and of course the Chrysler building.
Then after a quick walk back to Times Square to get a group meal at the Hard Rock Cafe to complete the evening.
And this was only day 1!
Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Battles
Abraham Lincoln and his army commander: what were they talking about?
Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, was a long time coming. Period movies bring history and historical figures back to life, just as we of GO Educational Tours achieve when educating our student group tours. I may be biased as a Civil War historian, but the 150th anniversary of each battle fought during the war is ongoing, and we are currently organizing student tour groups for trips to several Civil War sites, including viewing some live battle reenactments. To learn more about Lincoln and the Civil War, please click below for a program of student group tours.
Lincoln is still on record as the tallest president in US history, and when he visited camps, his eyes were instantly drawn to any soldier who was remotely his height. Hoping to finally meet his match, Lincoln would call the fellow over, and the President of the US and the common soldier would stand back to back to see who was taller. Lincoln enjoyed being photographed with his soldiers, but was none too pleased during this meeting.
This photo is of Abraham Lincoln and his commander in chief, Gen. George McClellan, a month after the brutal battle of Antietam fought on September 17, 1862 a mile from Sharpsburg, Maryland. There were 22,000 casualties, nearly 28% of those engaged, the most casualties in a single day in US history.
Although Gettysburg has received more attention, particularly because of the Gettysburg address, Antietam was equidistant with D.C., and its carnage was alarming to the president. Lincoln’s disappointment in McClellan is palpable in this photo, as he dressed down McClellan for failing to pursue Lee’s army and crush it. McClellan was beloved by his soldiers, and he followed a strategy of loss prevention, however at the expense of inflicting maximum damage on the enemy. A month after this photo, after the important mid-term elections and the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves, Lincoln relieved McClellan of command for failing to pursue Lee across the Potomac and finish him.
Maryland’s allegiance was split, half were pro slavery, half were abolitionist. In Sharpsburg, the postmaster would change the flag outside the post office according to who was riding into town that day. A proper analysis of the Battle of Antietam begins with the terrain. The Antietam Battlefield, now a national military park, is a beautiful patch of rolling hills, corn fields, and a nearby river. It was this rolling landscape that obscured troop movement. Only fifty yards from your position, the enemy could be approaching, or entrenched, and you would not know it. Lee himself had to ride on his white horse “Traveler” up and down the field between the Piper House and the sunken road to gain a holistic view.
To illustrate the impact of topography, when the battle commenced at 5:30 AM, only the glistening bayonets reflecting the low horizon sun and state battle flags of advancing Confederates could be seen above the corn stalks. At “bloody lane”, still today a sunken road immortalized in the annals of history, wave after wave of Union troops advanced against Confederates entrenched in the sunken road, and Confederates would first see only the battle flags rising above the hill, as the brigade chaplain rode back and forth on his horse, giving last rites with a sweeping motion of his hand, oblivious to bullets zinging past his ears like mad hornets.
Antietam was tactically a draw, but a moral victory for the Union which inspired the timing for the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln had mixed feelings, however, because McClellan failed to capitalize on the opportunity to finish off Lee. Lincoln’s relationship with McClellan was strained from the outset. McClellan was contemptuous of Lincoln, but Lincoln had no choice early in the war but to choose a general who was most respected by his men. One time, Lincoln went to visit McClellan at a house where he was staying, and arriving early, Lincoln waited for McClellan in the living room. When McClellan arrived, he glanced at Lincoln in silence and walked right past Lincoln, up the stairs to his bedroom. After fifteen minutes, Lincoln sent a staff member to check on McClellan. The staffer returned two minutes later to inform Lincoln that the general had gone to sleep.
Lincoln hired and fired five commanders of the Army of the Potomac, which was the name of the federal force that fought in the Eastern Theater, before finally selecting the hero of the Western Theater, U.S. Grant, as head of the entire army.
Grant was humble, apolitical, and at the war’s onset, had washed up after a series of failed business ventures. Throughout the war, even after being named commander of the entire federal army, Grant dressed modestly and wore the pants of a private, his self-consciousness inflicted by an embarrassing experience when he was a young soldier serving at an outpost in the west. One morning, while walking into town neatly groomed and in uniform, a depot worker who had seen him pass into town every day mocked him by pinning a strip of cloth on each pant leg. In combat during the Civil War, not only as a grizzled veteran but also as a man who had already been brought to the brink of failure in civilian life, Grant offered a rare trait in a soldier- clarity of thought during utter chaos in the heat of battle, as if all the tribulations in his life had served in some twisted way to fatalistically prepare him for destiny.
The style of Grant’s autobiography reflects his modesty, it is somewhat stilted, written nearly in third person, and devoid of personal feelings. He wrote the book while dying of throat cancer, brought on by his taking to cigars sent as gifts by admirers during the war, which he smoked to soothe his nerves after a day of carnage. Grant did cry, he wept in his tent after the Battle of Shiloh, he was not unemotional and he loved his troops. Rather, he was very emotional yet contained his feelings because of his modest personality. When Grant was dying of throat cancer and began writing his book, he was dying broke after losing his savings in an ill-fated brokerage firm where his son worked, and whose partner embezzled. He wanted to ensure his family would be provided for after his death. The book became a best seller and raised several hundred thousand dollars for his family, equivalent to ten million dollars today.
By the end of the war, Lincoln’s appearance had aged considerably, and the emotional toll was etched on his forlorn face. One officer who saw him while addressing troops said he had the look of a clown, a sad clown’s face.
A few months before Lincoln’s assassination, an interesting twist of fate occurred. Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was at a New Jersey railroad station waiting on a train platform so crowded that he was wedged against the side of the stationary train. The train began to move, and Lincoln’s son began to fall in between two cars passing by. A hand grabbed his coat and pulled him to safety. The president’s son recognized the Good Samaritan’s face and thanked the famous actor for saving his life. That actor was Edwin Booth, the more famous brother of John Wilkes Booth.
When Lincoln died, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.” Lincoln died, but the nation was re-born.
Interested in joining us during the 150th reunion of the Civil War to celebrate Lincoln’s service to our country ? Some of our Civil War related destinations for middle and high school student group tours are Gettysburg, PA and Antietam, MD (combined with a Washington, DC trip), Atlanta, GA (combined with Chattanooga, TN), and Charleston, SC. If there is another Civil War destination of interest, we also customize tours as requested. Our tours are steeped in education, each trip is devoted to one or more academic disciplines, not just history, but also science, zoology, architecture, and others. We are not just a Civil War tour organization for students, although it is one of our specialties.
Start here with a free quote on a educational tour with your student group to Washington DC or Gettysburg.
Testimonial – GO Educational Tours to New York City
I thought our ‘GO Leader’ did an excellent job working with a very diverse group of kids. All in all, the students had a great time and we got to see so much of the city! The tours were timed perfectly and did not feel rushed but moved along so that we were able to participate in multiple activities each day. Our GO Leader was very flexible and able to adjust our itinerary to accommodate some items that were not a part of the traditional itinerary. Also, he did a great job making the best of the rainy day weather, still giving the kids a fun-filled Sunday, although the weather was not the best!
I believe GO Educational Tours provided the perfect mix of activities and personality needed for my group of students. They are still talking about all of the experiences they have shared together in the city and have learned some memorable facts and shared in some great attractions of one of the best cities on earth! I would definitely recommend this tour and company to others!
A typical day on Educational Tours to Washington DC
A typical day on educational tours to Washington DC with your student group.
On any given day depending on your mode of travel each student educational tour to Washington DC will include a visit to the Capitol and a meeting with your Congressman or woman. And no student tour would be complete with the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court building when the schedule permits. We will discuss these a little more in later blogs.
On the other days your tour with middle and high school students will include the many activities Washington DC has to offer for student group and their teachers.
Each day on an educational tour brings new discoveries for students. On a trip to Washington DC a typical day would start around 645-700am. We love to get an early start simply because a lot can be done in a day and many sites and attractions are a little less busy before 10am.
Spring can be especially warm in Washington DC. As we get closer to June and July the weather conditions during your student tour can become muggy very fast and so the schedule for you educational field trip will be planned according to the date of travel.
We always recommend to do the Arlington Cemetery early as there is some walking to do and it is always better to walk the grounds with your student group before peak sun. The crowds will be thinner and access to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, JFK’s and his brother Robert burial sites a little easier.
As we leave the grounds of Arlington cemetery with the student group, the tour will head to the 911 Pentagon Memorial nearby. A quick stop at the Iwo Jima memorial for a group picture and some background on the events of Iwo Jima.
On your other morning we could recommend going to the National Zoo and a visit to the National Cathedral.
Lunch in Washington DC can be a lot of fun for the student group as there is a lot of selection. Union Station is a favorite for student group tours as we can arrange for meal vouchers and coupons and there are many choices of restaurants for the groups.
Also possible is the Old Post Office Pavilion which offers some selection of restaurants for travelling student groups.
Tomorrow we will look at a typical afternoon of touring on and educational tour in Washington DC.
Get a quote for a DC trip today
Your Passport and an Educational Tour to Ireland and the world
The first step to your first or next trip to Ireland will be to get a passport. Any journey around the world begins with this document in hand. Whether you travel on an educational tour with your classmates, friends or on vacation with your parents, your passport will be the witness to many border crossings.
Passports as we know them today have been in common use in the 20th century but have an older origin traced back to 450 BC.
The mention of such a document is in the Bible in the book of Nehemiah. Working as a Royal cup bearerNehemiah was granted letters from the King to requesting of governors of foreign lands to grant him safe passage – he was originally going to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. ( source The Guardian – Leo Benedictus )
The UK Border Agency indicates the passport first made its appearance in the reign of Henry V in the form of a ‘safe conduct’. It was used to prove the origins of travelers and is still the case today. Today in the British passport we can still read the request :
Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
The US Passport contains this message:
The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.
The origin of the word continues to be debated. Whether it had maritime connections derived from seaports or from a medieval document to pass the door to a walled city or a territory. ( gate = porte in French )
The document today serves to confirm the identity, nationality of the international traveler. It does not give the holder the permission to enter countries as this is a privilege accorded by authorities of each country the equivalent of the US State Department. In certain cases travelers need to apply for a visa that will be attached to the passport confirming for the border patrol the necessary documentation was provided to allow passage.
According to State Department historians, except for brief periods during wartime, passports were not generally required for travel abroad and few obstacles were presented by foreign states’ passport requirements until after 1914. An executive order on Dec. 15, 1915, required every person entering or leaving the United States to have a valid passport. ( How Stuff Works.com )
Until recently, the US and Canada did not need a passport for border crossings. These rules changed after September 2001.
When you arrive in Ireland on your next educational tour or trip to Ireland you will need a valid passport to enter the country.
If you do not have a passport, you can read more in the next posting on how to get one.
The perfect Educational Tour with your students
The perfect tour.
Is it possible ?
My answer in good tour guide fashion is rather long winded like all good tour guide stories. I’ve been asked often, – ‘has anything ever gone wrong on your tours ?’.
Of course. Nothing ever goes perfectly but I compare any educational tour with students to theater. Bare with me. When you go see a play and a musical the actions is on stage but we never see behind the stage and the beehive of activity there. A tour is somewhat like that. All the craziness is behind the scenes never seen but making it happen is a team of dedicated travel enthusiasts and professionals who all work with the same sense of urgency to make your trip the best.
There are so many factors that can affect a tour and it’s just a matter of how we manage them. But to manage them without the students and teachers feeling the effects is the real secret.
Whether it is a bus breakdown ( they happen, really, mechanical stuff does happen – warm weather may cause the newest motor coach Air Conditioners to fail!) traffic, weather, reservations issues and so on.
It is our business to eliminate all of these possibilities way before your tour. We haven’t fully mastered weather yet or control the volume of vehicles on the road, that’s for a future project.
We do, however, coordinate to the last detail. Whether at the hotel, the hotel rooms and room list, which and how many floors the group will be on, making sure the chaperones are strategically placed. And we select the best motorcoach companies out there with dedicated drivers who enjoy their work. But even the newest motorcoach is not immune to some mechanical disorder even in the most pristine conditions.
Experience is a big factor. Dealing with these issues and making sure they are dealt with smoothly is the key to success. So when I am asked the question, my answer is yes, many things, small and big, went wrong but they were all resolved smoothly and without a hitch so that they never had an adverse effect on the outcome of the tour. Focusing on the outcome of the tour made it so I can barely remember them.
Sure have had students who’ve gotten lost but immediately recovered. ( we don’t have an app for that but we do have a very efficient procedure for that ). I have had students who needed to got to the hospital for various issues. Teachers have had to deal with disciplinary problems, tardiness and other similar issues. We have had some missed reservations, missed for various reasons. Things happen but there are always solutions.
Being dedicated to the successful outcome of the tour is the key. For GO, dedication is a key value along with working with a sense of urgency. There’s no ‘we’ll get to it’, we do it. Working as a team and finding solutions. It’s a fun and challenging job we all love. We learn from it and make it part of our collective knowledge and adapt.
The GO team is up to the challenge and we hope you will give us a try.
What type of educational tour should you do with your students?
History comes to life in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Quebec City and many other destinations on a middle and high school educational group tour. We retrace the steps of the events and people who shaped these cities and countries. We examine the architecture, the economics, the arts, the languages and culture that have influenced them and bring them to life for the students on their tours.
Challenging the students is one of the most important aspects of our educational tours to Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Montreal and Quebec City. Our GO Tour Leaders are chosen from the education departments and part of their training is to complement their knowledge of teaching to apply them to educational travel.
For example, the event of the American Revolution had a dramatic impact on the french language and culture. The loyalist sensing trouble to the south made sure the French would fight alongside the British and the Quebec Act was passed that allowed the french to retain use of their language, religion and law. Today, Quebec Civil Code is the law while common law is applied in the rest of the continent.
When we visit the United Nations in NYC we see a Foucault’s Pendulum in the entry hall. How does it work and explain that the earth actually rotates on its axis ? Newtonian principles are in full view in front of us.
The Hugenots’ impact on the history of Boston, the Cradle of Liberty in Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market and Boston Common to Harvard Square all have a past and present to share.
Places, people and concepts are shared explained and presented throughout the tours and of course all of the current events and important past events are presented.
These tours are of course done in a safe and secure environment. Group and individual safety is our primary concern. Making sure the students are safe in their travels, at the accommodations, in transit and their meals.
So we will elaborate a little more here in this blog on our travel programs. As you can see we distinguish between :
– year end trips
– general cultural tours
– academic focus where teachers and their students can
– linguistic experiences
and other activities can be combined to realize your travel objectives.
Much to see and much to do…. on your mark, GO, join us.
Testimonial – Educational Tour to New York City
Just wanted to thank you again for a FABULOUS trip! The kids had a blast and so did the teachers! You make the experience so much fun and soooo easy! Everything is perfectly timed and definitely focused on middle schoolers with a mix of sightseeing and time to explore. Even the choices for lunch and dinner were outstanding! I cannot thank you enough… we had a wonderful time and hope to repeat next year!
Thanks for ALL you did to make the kids’ Grade 8 trip to New York so memorable!
Catherine Cameron, Principal