Our travelers are home safe and sound. The report is that it was the most perfect trip they could have had. [Ms. Brewster] was thrilled and we are all feeling grateful we made the effort to change companies. ... thank you for working with us so perfectly and being just the company we were looking for when we decided to change.
- Laura B, Trip Coordinator
I wanted to tell you how terrific our trip to Philadelphia and Boston was last week. First of all, it was absolutely wonderful being back with Daniel and Isaiah.
Daniel is such a professional. He establishes a great rapport with the students from the very minute he meets them. He remembers their brother and sisters who have traveled with him before, and he is always interested to hear updates about them. If there is ever a fact that he does not know (and I think it has only happened twice in all the years I have known him), he researches it and gives us the answer before the trip is over. He is so upbeat and positive, and can charm any historical guide, park ranger, docent, or even complete strangers into giving us a rare look at something or a special historical presentation. Daniel can make absolutely anything seem like the most interesting place, the most fascinating event, or the most terrific person that has ever lived. He is a natural and we are so fortunate to get to travel with him.
Isaiah is wonderful. He is calm, organized, flexible, personable, and has a fantastic singing voice. Who knew? He took care of our menus to be sure that the six students who have severe food allergies always had something they could safely eat. He handled minor glitches with a smile and great attitude. He made sure we got to see everything on our itinerary and that our days were smooth, unhurried, and rewarding. In addition, Isaiah is very open about his love of history and his appreciation of the people who built this amazing country of ours. It was great for our students to hear his thoughts and to watch Isaiah enthusiastically explore the places we visited. He is great with children and kept everyone occupied, entertained, and most important ... thinking.
Working with your staff in the office was also a pleasure. No trip is successful unless the people who plan it, book the venues, arrange for the air and ground transportation, and take care of the finances are competent, and the people at Academic Expeditions are much more than just competent. Rebekah and Brigid worked with us throughout the year to be sure that we had the exact hats we wanted, the t-shirts we love, hotel and rooming plans, our favorite coach driver, a top quality air carrier, and all the information we needed to be as prepared as possible for this trip. They made it seem like we were their only client, and that their goal was for us to have a perfect trip. They communicated with us by e-mail or phone at all hours of the day and if we had a question or concern, it was answered within a few hours. It was obvious that their goal was to make our trip seamless, and they certainly met their goal. We had a fantastic experience this year.
Academic Expeditions is an outstanding company who's friendly and competent staff provide a level of service that is incomparable. Your employees clearly love their jobs and take pride in what they do. Our entire experience from start to finish this year was such a joy. We can't wait for next year!
- Ms. Brewster, Fifth Grade Instructor
The boys have been talking talking talking abour there time [in Washington, DC]. And the Sisters have been talking talking, too!!! Thanks so much again, for all of your incredible goodness to us ... for your shared knowledge ... for the fun and hikes and "findings" that we experienced. We are all very grateful!
- Sister Johnellen
Thank you for making the best day of my life possible by visiting the Lincoln Memorial. I hope I can see you guys again when you visit the school. - Jonathan
Thank you for giving me one of my best vacations ever. - Juan
I really enjoyed everything that took place during the trip. I really liked the Capitol building. Thank you again for everything you did for us! - David
This was my first time to DC and you made it a trip of a lifetime. For me to come back home with knowing this history is a real treat! - Konnor
Thank you for teaching us about US history. You made learning fun. I loved going to the World War II Memorial. - Julian
To the Staff of Academic Expeditions,
“...Our community is mostly made up of hard-working, day to day people, who care deeply about our children. Most of us have limited resources, as far as money is concerned, but money is not our focus. I just wanted you to know, I’ve talked to other parents about this trip, and they feel fortunate that you have given our children this opportunity that would normally be out of reach. My son is so excited, and what I see, because of this trip, our horizons and dreams have been re-kindled and my son and I have become closer. He has thanked me over and over again for my sacrifice, but this could not be possible, if you didn’t do what you do. So I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you that we you do, does not go unnoticed. I wanted to say thanks for being people who see the value of nurturing the spirit of young people and showing that things are possible, with a lesson that is much more important than the trip itself."
- Mr. Simpson, Parent Traveler
“I have worked with Academic Expeditions for the past four years now and each year they find new ways to completely surpass all my expectations. Their professionalism, their boundless energy, and their amazing rapport with children all make their trips both rewarding educational experiences and an absolute blast for the students and my chaperones. These are people I not only look forward to working with again and again, year after year, but who I now count amongst my dearest friends.”
- Mark Gelineau, Teacher, San Jose, CA
The STN Eighth Grade would like to take this opportunity to thank you for our trip to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. It was an amazing experience for students, teachers and parents who participated, and provided an opportunity for us to grow as individuals and citizens of this great nation and the world. We will never forget the memories and the knowledge that we acquired on this academic expedition!
- Thank You! Mrs. O’Keefe and the Eighth Grade Class
One memorial that touched me the most was the Vietnam Memorial. After seeing all those names on the wall, it changes your life. I hope to go back there one day and leave a flower at the wall. - Lulu
The Holocaust Memorial moved me to tears. When I saw the video clips and the room filled with shoes, it appalled me that a human being could hate another race for no reason. - Jenna
The White House was incredible! I loved seeing all the history and talking to the secret service people. I was thrilled to see the portrait of George Washington that Dolly Madison saved. - Harrison
The World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. moved me. My grandfather served in WWII, and although he lived, it still reminded me of him. It is the newest memorial in Washington DC and my favorite. - Colleen
Arlington Cemetary had the most impact on me. It was amazing to see all the great heros who died for our country. The new memorial, which showed the people who have died really moved me. - Matthew
Ground Zero and Ellis Island were the two most memorable places we visited. I didn’t really understand the impact 9/11 had on those living in NYC. At Ellis Island , I was able to look up my family name and found two of my ancestors. I learned that they came during the potato famine. - Jenny
Standing at the top of the Empire State Building and looking out over New York City was the most memorable experience of the trip. It was breathtaking. I wanted to stay up there the whole night and just take it all in. - Michael
Dear Academic Expeditions,
Our principal asked me to write down some thoughts about the recent class trip to Washington D.C., which I am delighted to do. I am still reliving moments and experiences from last week, remembering things we saw and things we learned – things you so entertainingly taught us, children and adults alike. What a fantastic time we had! I am finding it difficult knowing where to start - the hotels perhaps. Accommodation in Williamsburg was great, but topped by the Marriott in DC. The beds were so comfortable (and we needed this after the long days!) and the breakfast buffet to die for – it made the job of getting kids up in the mornings so much easier. They knew they had to get down to breakfast in time for their custom omelets or waffles made to order. The hotel staff was friendly to our large group and it made the beginning of each day very relaxed, setting us up for the days ahead. The swimming pool at the Marriott was a blessing to let the kids go wild for an hour before bedtime a couple of evenings and the security guards in the hotel corridors made life very reassuring for the chaperones.
The food was fabulous from the first evening’s dinner at Sal’s in Williamsburg, when we got off the bus, plane weary and trying to find our bearings, through the new experience of Mongolian barbecue, the delicious Wolfgang Puck and historic Mount Vernon Inn and King’s Arm Tavern in Williamsburg. I was pleasantly surprised not to be eating burgers and pizzas all week, but enjoyed the variety and healthy choices we could make, not to mention that it was all delicious (well, except for the peanut soup, I would have to say, but glad that we got to try it!). We did not have to wait to be seated anywhere. It was obvious in the majority of places that you have a great relationship with the owners of restaurants and we were treated so well everywhere we went. You were generous too, when we were off on our own, so to speak, furnishing us each with $10 for lunch. And much to the kid’s delight they got to keep the change - “pure profit” as someone put it!!
It is hard to choose favorite moments from the week. This was my first visit to Virginia and DC, and I loved every minute. It was wonderful to be in DC the week before the official dedication of the new World War II Memorial. I enjoyed hearing about the history of the other memorials, the controversies over the years, and to learn that this new monument is causing just as much, if not more, debate. I liked to hear your opinions and also liked that you kept asking the students what they would have designed for a memorial, asking them for their opinions. I loved the trip to Ford’s Theatre. To see a play in the theater where Lincoln was assassinated made more of an impression on me than had we just toured it during the daytime. The whole experience was enhanced by your telling us the story of the assassination, of Lincoln being carried across the street through the crowds. You made history come alive. The musical was good too.
The other evening activities were diverse and entertaining. The Military Tattoo was spectacular and great fun for the kids and adults alike. I enjoyed seeing the soldiers through history in their different uniforms. The evenings in Williamsburg were great. The first evening, when we were tired but excited to be in Virginia, we went on the Lantern Tour. The kids liked the ghost stories. The second evening we were treated to meeting your friend, Sylvia Tabb Lee, at the Baptist Church. It was so lovely to sit and listen to Sylvia sing and talk about the African American heritage in Virginia. We also had great amusement at the volunteer drummers and the chaperones dancing. It was a completely different thing to do and a very important side of Williamsburg’s history.
Your desire to give us a balanced week of learning and experiences was also evident by the inclusion of the visit to the Holocaust Museum. The class has been learning about WWII this year, so were ready to be exposed to the difficult images that were displayed. It was important to remind them of this part of history. This was offset by the more lighthearted visit to the International Spy Museum. You made the trip so much fun for the chaperones as well that I had to keep reminding myself that this trip was for 12-year-old interests not mine! We loved visiting Pamplin Park and Gettysburg. You spoiled us, I think, with using guides who had impressed you in the past, and they were certainly a highlight of each visit. Their obvious passion about the Civil War was incredible and the enthusiasm rubbed off on us and made the visits so wonderful. It was perfect to march around Pamplin Park with the guide playing the fife to lead us. It is hard to put into words what a difference it made that we were so fortunate and blessed to have you with us all week.
Your rapport with the students was incredible and you obviously enjoyed being with them. You sat with them at mealtimes, were interested in each one of them and got to know them all so fast. Little did they realize how much they were learning at the same time! Their knowledge amazed me, you had taught them so much on the bus between visits and this just enhanced their experience. They had so much fun with you! I loved the way you had riddles for them on the bus, and pointed out certain things to look for at the monuments, for example, searching for the soldier at the Korean War Memorial without the gun. I am sure you noticed the parents just, if not more, determined to solve each puzzle. It made the learning experience more enjoyable. You picked a fantastic bus driver. Tim would get us right in front of places and be waiting for us when we were done. He was so pleasant and part of the Academic Expeditions “package”.
The week went so smoothly. Your ability to get us to each venue on time and yet not rushing was amazing. Our tours of the Capitol and Arlington were awesome and well planned. You were calm and unflappable and we felt completely in organized hands. I can’t remember one glitch the whole week. From my point of view, to spend a week so full, without having to make decisions about where to go, where to park, where to eat was incredible. I came away feeling we saw everything and also wanting to go back for more. I have two other children who are looking forward to their own DC sixth grade class trips. I hope that Academic Expeditions will be on hand for them as I am certain their experiences will be as fantastic. The students will remember this trip forever, what a fabulous experience for them. Thank you for everything! We miss you, your laugh, your knowledge and your enthusiasm. Thank you!
- Best wishes J.P.P.