Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Spring Trips by Mike Siekkinen

All teachers and students look forward to spring break. Typically it's a week off to unwind, relax, sleep in and have fun. Over the last 8 years, I've chosen another route to take regarding spring break. I have organized and led a spring trip for students at my school. Believe me, if I wasn’t enjoying this I wouldn’t do it! 

Last spring break, I led 25 students on a trip to the Florida Keys where we snorkeled the coral reefs, swam with dolphins, visited recovering sea turtles and then toured the Everglades, both during the day and at night. We had a blast! There was still some time for relaxing as the trip was a Monday through Friday excursion, so we had a weekend before and a weekend after to recover. 

I use a tour company for organization and then advertise during the school year. The company I use has been Worldstrides and my experience with them has been excellent. I will say they are not the cheapest company out there, but the support given during all aspects of a trip has been outstanding. For example, on my first trip with them, I had a student get very ill as we were about to depart for the bus ride home from Washington DC. I called their tour central office at 6 PM (it is available and manned 24 hours a day) and they had a doctor come to our bus while we were eating dinner. The doctor diagnosed the student, sent his nurse for medicine and called the parents with an update. This was done free of charge for the student. That kind of insurance and support is unprecedented and is worth the few extra dollars when away from home with someone else’s children!

Students and parents sign up and pay the tour company (I touch no money) and I take care of paperwork, advertising and then supervising the trip. A tour guide is provided and all events, meals, attractions and travel are handled by the tour company. 

I've enjoyed doing this and will continue to give up part of my spring break every year I am able to provide this opportunity to students. Next year will be Washington DC! I alternate between different locations year to year so students can come multiple years, not going to the same location twice. Give it a try, you may find like I do that half a spring break is enough!

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.