Archive of ‘Travel’ category

My 8th Grade Trip To Washington DC

This week I’m in Washington DC with my son’s 8th grade class and it got me thinking about my 8th grade trip to Washington DC back in 19mumble whatever. A lot has changed.

1. Chaperones 

This trip: There are 6 teachers, 1 school nurse, 1 school principal and 4 parents for about 40 kids.

My trip: The school nurse, the girls gym teacher who ran a 97-minute mile and (4) 17 year old high school seniors who sat in the back of the bus and avoided contact with us as much as possible.  We were also a class of 40, maybe less.

2. Bag Checks

This trip: All student bags were searched by the faculty before being loaded on the bus

My trip: Ha! You’re adorable. If they did search it was only because the 17 year olds ran out of beer and were looking for more to unwind with. Fortunately they brought plenty so the six-pack and bonus fireworks some of the boys had smuggled in were left undiscovered.  After check-in the beer was stashed in their toilet tank so housekeeping didn’t drink it.

3. Supervision


This trip: Students are in direct sight of a chaperone at all times. Each destination change starts and ends with a regroup and headcount.

My trip: “It’s 9:30 now, buses are leaving at 4:30. Make sure you’re back because we’re not waiting”.

4. Security






This trip: There is a paid security guard posted in the hallway not far from my room right this second who is there until 6am. The doors have been masking-taped shut on the outside so that even if they somehow make it past security, the chaperones will know if the kids left their room after lights-out.

My trip: You’re still adorable!

5. Memories

This trip: Plenty of pics and videos are being taken and posted to FB and Instagram.

My trip: “Damn it, I only brought 2 rolls of film but lookit – I made a flip book with a stick figure!”.

6. Entertainment

This trip: They were encouraged to stow their phones and actually “talk” with each other and engage.

My trip: They were not prying my brand-new Panasonic portable cassette player with AM/FM radio out of my hands until the 8 AA batteries were dead and corroding.  The only tape I brought on that trip was George Michael’s “Faith” that I listened to over and over. I downloaded it for the drive down on Tuesday and made it through three songs. It sucks!

 7. Parents 




This trip: An automatic text, phone call and email saying that their children arrived safely was sent out to parents upon arrival. Kids were also told to call their parents before bed, they also kept track of their activities via Facebook.

My trip: No phone call meant we weren’t in the ER or a holding cell and no one wanted to pay $8/min long distance anyway.

 8. Music

This trip: “Take Me To Church”, “Uptown Funk” and “I Really Like You” are in the Top 100.

My trip: The super-assaulty “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Naughty Girls Need Love Too” were in the Top 100.

9. Movies

This trip: “Magic Mike XXL” and “50 Shades of Grey” released this year.

My trip: “Die Hard” and “Big” were released. Ok so this is a bad example because the last two sound like porn and the first two kinda are so it’s a tie.

10. Food

This trip: This is an actual photo of my lunch today. It consisted of 5 cucumber slices, 2 beet slices, 6 cherry tomatoes, a 20 oz drink and a banana and it was about the same price as 14.33 heads of lettuce.

My trip: My balanced lunch of Astronaut Ice Cream was about $2 with tax and science.

11. Exercise

This trip: Some of the adults compared Fitbit stats at dinner tonight. I came in 4th place with the above and for about .53267 seconds I considered running back to the hotel so I could win but I was all out of caring.

My trip: No Fitbits and the only two adults with us had a combined age of roughly 135 and weight of 400 lbs. They stayed on the bus, reading, napping and dreaming of the day when Matlock would hit the airwaves.


This trip: The chaperones have taken their responsibilities very seriously and really care for the students. As a result the kids have a pretty idyllic, wholesome existence where they are safe, encouraged and cared for. It doesn’t hurt that school systems now need to have a healthy fear of litigation.

My trip: Well, no one got arrested despite it being a barely-supervised ride to DC. Everyone made it home unharmed and no one was sued or even subpoenaed (boring…).  It makes you wonder if all of today’s precautions are even necessary but you and I know the answer to that. If they didn’t and something happened it would be a freaking nightmare of lawsuits and media trolls.

Comparing the two trips is really eye-opening when you look at how much has changed in 27 years. I think the takeaway is that, in general, everyone does the absolute best they can within the parameters and resources they’re given. A little bit of luck always helps, too.

I can honestly say that my 8th grade trip to Washington DC was just as fun as his, which is all that matters.