Thursday, April 23, 2009

Field Trip!

Today I took the kids into Gettysburg for a field trip. Back when I was in school, field trips were the best thing ever. No classes, no tests, no books. They were a free day, plus you usually got to go somewhere cool. For some reason, my kids whine and complain every time I announce a field trip. I don't get it. It's the same deal; no bookwork, no tests, a free day! And chances are it's going to be something cool. Getting them out in the morning nearly kills me, and I'm always ready to just leave them home and go by myself!

Well, we did manage to all get out and into town, and on time! I had done some scout work earlier in the month, so I knew just where I was going to park, and how to get from one place to another. We had been sent a notice that the USSC Museum , which is the U.S. Christian Commission Museum, was having special programs and discount rates for homeschoolers today. They have two locations, so I needed to have a plan as to moving between the two.

We started out the day at their "chapel," which is a log-and-canvas tent building like the kind that would have been built for soldiers to attend church services during the Civil War. The people who run the museum wear period clothing, and one of the young men dressed as a soldier gave a talk about his uniform and his gear. He passed around the gunpowder packets, bullets, and caps, and showed us how a soldier would have had to load the musket to shoot. He described what life was like on the march for a soldier. He did a really nice job. Then another man dressed as Abraham Lincoln came up and gave two of Lincoln's speeches; one where Lincoln established the National Day of Prayer, which was April of '63 (before the Battle of Gettysburg) and then the Gettysburg Address (November '63). We discussed the difference in tone between the two speeches.

After that, I took the boys over to McDonald's for lunch. I had to remind them that the field trip was to the museum and not to the Play Place LOL. We met up with some other homeschooling moms that I have been emailing with for a few weeks. I am glad to be widening my circle of acquaintances. It was also nice to see how big a group of homeschoolers there are in our area!

After lunch we went back to the main museum, which is the home of Jenny Wade. As some know, Jenny Wade was the only civilian killed at Gettysburg. What I learned, though, is that it was not her own home she was killed in, that was her sister's house; she actually lived right in town. While being guided through the home, we learned about the Christian Commission and how and why it was founded. It was founded by the YMCA to minister to the soldiers of the war. We learned a lot about the life of a soldier, and also how their survival or demise affected their loved ones and also those around them. We heard inspiring stories of men who shared their faith and even young children who reached out to the soldiers. It was fun, too, to see the house decorated in period style, and all the artifacts.

One last stop was back to the chapel where we listened to two more museum guides play on dulcimers and harmonicas for us. I sat and imagined how it would be to attend a tent service and sing hymns where there were no pianos or organs, and you had to be accompanied by harmonica!

The boys ended up having a good time in spite of themselves, and in the end agreed it was better than staying home and doing book work. LOL Wouldn't you know it, I forgot the camera, darn it. I will say, though, that I enjoyed the day better myself since I didn't have to worry about good picture opportunities. Go ahead and follow the link above and see what it's about.


Melanie said...

I'm bummed you forgot your camera. It sounds like a field trip right up my alley, and I would have liked to have seen your pics!

Michelle said...

Very progressive, incoporating how the war affected the women and children (ie.: families) when the men were away at war or were even killed. See! History is not just memorizing names (of people and places) and dates.

I would suggest a follow up creative writing project for the older ones to link the History aspect with English skills.

Kristin said...

Oh, that sounds like a GREAT field trip -- I'd love to take my kids there!