I’ve been pondering all of the different field trips through the years. There was that field trip to Corning Glass Museum for which Mapquest took me a full 1.5 hours out of the way and made me late. Watching the man blow glass was pretty cool but if my kids remember anything it would be that long drive through the Finger Lakes and arriving late! Then there was that time we went to a lighthouse and I didn’t get to go up because I had a baby in a backpack baby carrier. Fortunately someone was willing to take Clara up with her and take pictures. She probably doesn’t remember that one either since she was just five years old at the time.
That was also the year we had a zoo membership to Seneca Park Zoo and went once a month. I loved that zoo and so did my children. Part of it’s charm was the smaller size and the fact that we went often enough to feel really at home there.
We’ve taken field trips to restaurants and grocery stores, field trips to all of the Smithsonians, fieldtrips to all of the major National Air and Space Museums, the Marine Museum, field trips to at least ten zoos, children’s museums, the Creation Museum, science museums, botanical gardens, Indian sites, army band Christmas concerts, all of the DC monuments, the capitol building, a castle in Toronto Canada, the forts near DC and several Civil War battlefields, hikes in many state and National Parks, several aquariums, even a field trip to an amazing castle park somewhere near Montgomery, Alabama. Most recently we went to a Marine Mammal Care Center and learned about how they rescue animals in distress and take care of them before releasing them back into the ocean. We’ve been on field trips in large groups, field trips with one other family, field trips in a foreign country, and field trips with just our family.
To me a good field trip is not just a trip that teaches — a good field trip makes memories. Every time we go to one of these places I buy a magnet and hang it on my fridge. Behind every magnet is a learning experience. Behind every magnet is a story. And every story is a precious memory for my family and I.
Then there are the field trips we never got around to. The places we meant to go and never followed through. When we were leaving the DC area we realized we had never taken any of our kids to see the Atlantic Ocean or play on a beach. We live on the Pacific Ocean now– we can see it from our backyard. We’ve been to the beach now. But still every time we move I have a list of places we just never visited and those are regrets. One time we arrived at our field trip destination (a restaurant tour) only to realize one of the children had arrived without shoes!
My favorite field trip is our recent twelve day road trip across the country — when every day had some kind of field trip experience. We spent half a day at the Arch in St. Louis and Lewis and Clark museum doing Junior Ranger badges, we ate at a funky farmhouse restaurant somewhere in Kansas, we spent two days at Rocky Mountain National Park hiking, riding horses and earning Junior Ranger badges, we spent one day hiking through Zion National park getting our Junior Ranger badges, and an entire day driving through the desert in complete shock at the scenery. My family and I spent twelve days in cars together and we learned so much about this amazing country of ours and the awesome creation of our God. That was the most ultimate field trip ever!
My encouragement to you is this — get out and go! Find a field trip you want to do with your kids. Do a bit of research, or a lot of research depending on your personality. Figure out a way to make a field trip happen. Start with one. See where one field trip takes you.