The Importance of Field Trips

8th grade trip to Washington, DC - a highlight of the Mason Prep experience.

As I write this post, I am in a bus on Interstate 95 on the way to Washington with our eighth graders. (And it’s snowing, but that’s another story!) Overnight trips are always among the highlights of a school year, not only for the students but for the teachers and parents who accompany them. Even for those of us who have been on these journeys many times, school trips provide lasting memories.

High-quality trips don’t just involve the days that students are away from school. To make the most of a trip, teachers should provide the students well in advance with the background knowledge about what they are going to see and do. It is always gratifying to be in the marsh or woods or at a historic site with a student group and to hear an instructor or docent compliment our students about how well-prepared they are. I know that when we arrive in Washington, our students will have a thorough understanding of the three branches of government when we tour the United States Capitol; will know the significance of the dates, battles, and wars that are memorialized at Arlington National Cemetery; and will be able to apply what they have learned about the “ladder of prejudice” to the powerful sights and sounds of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The lessons learned in history, science, and language arts classes come to life on our overnight trips.

At a school the size of Mason Prep, students and adults are always able to make very special connections with each other, and our trips are perfect opportunities for this to happen. Our teachers and students get to see different sides of each other that they don’t always see at school. Relationships are strengthened while walking through the Vietnam War Memorial, beside a waterfall at Dupont State Forest, at a dinner table at Camp Saint Christopher, or on a bus on the way home from Florida. Teachers learn what makes students tick, and students see an even more personal side of teachers than they see in the classroom. The sights and activities of our trips lead to thoughtful conversations, and connections grow even stronger.

6th grade trip to the Turtle Survival Center (left); 7th grade trip to the N.C. mountains (right)

School trips also present countless opportunities for student growth. For some of our fourth graders, a night at Camp Leopold is their first time out of town without their parents. Students and parents derive comfort from the fact that children are known and loved at our school, and those in need of extra reassurance will get it. A wonderful benefit of school trips is the chance for each student to get to know better others who are not in his or her immediate circle of friends. Our teachers love to hear students say, “I didn’t know how funny she is” or “He turned out to be really nice!” Of course, the primary purpose of school trips is education, and our students learn so much when they see, hear, and feel things first-hand.

5th grade trip to Barrier Island (left); Kindergarten trip to the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at the College of Charleston (right)

For me, the best part of a school trip is to see how much each of our students has grown since beginning at Mason Prep. I am a regular attendee on our Washington trip each spring, just a few weeks before our eighth graders will graduate. I remember many of these young students from their time in first grade, when they were missing their front teeth and learning how to read. They are now knowledgeable, confident, eloquent young people who are ready to make their marks on the world. A good deal of that progress can be credited to the time that our students spent exploring together on their class trips.

Field trips for Mason Prep students include:
- Washington, DC
- N.C. Mountains (Camp Tekoa)
- Florida (Disney Youth Education Series)
- Turtle Survival Center
- Charlestowne Landing
- Camp Leopold
- Bull Island
- Gaillard Center, Sottile Theatre, and Dock Street Theatre for live performances
- Patriot's Point
- Fire Museum
- Department of Natural Resources
- Wambaw Wilderness Area
and many more!

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Mason Preparatory School
56 Halsey Blvd Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-0664 (843) 723-1104