10 answers

8Th Grade Son Wants to Go to Washington DC Trip with Middle school....I'm Scared

My 8th grade son wants to travel to DC with his school. I THINK it will be a good experience, but it makes me sick to my stomach thinking of him being away for a week across the country...I will be a nervous wreck. He will probably be the only African American and I hope he will have a positive experience even when they do the historical tours which I'm sure will include the racism that was so prevalent back then. That is not my main concern, but it is one. I mainly want this to be a wonderful experience for him. They will be going to New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C. They will be going to Times Square, in the evening so they can see all of the crazy people as the teacher put it. They will go to a broadway play and a nice dinner. I would love to hear any experiences that you mothers have had that have sent your children on these trips. I'm so scared to have my baby so far away from me and flying and in the care of people I really don't know.

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Go as a chaparone. No one will watch him like you and it will be wonderful memory for the both of you.

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Both of my boys went to D.C. in 8th grade, and it was TOTALLY FINE. Our school has been using the same tour company for many, many years and, though we were a little nervous about it (especially with our older son because it was the first time), we all survived the experience!

I'm not sure what you are most worried about, so I will address two things:

1. His being an African American is not going to affect his trip at all. Are you worried that his non-African American classmates will ridicule him in some way on the historical parts of the tour? I would highly doubt that. Kids today don't see color (thank goodness we're making progress!) and if anything, his friends will be sensitive to his feelings during these parts of the tour. He will DEFINITELY not be the only African American in D.C., PLUS the people who run public tours of any kind are there to make it a positive experience for ALL people, no matter what.

2. If you're worried about his safety, I would just make sure that the trip is properly chaperoned, and if it's school-sponsored there are rules in place that ensure that (and the chaperones are probably teachers anyway). On the trips my son took, the chaperones put duct tape on the outsides of all the students' hotel room doors so that they would know if someone tried to sneak out (and they had security patrolling their floor); if someone left their room it was cause for immediately sending them home, so nobody does that. Also, they purposely keep these kids on these tours so busy (til late at night) that all they want to do is go to sleep. You will be surprised at how much of D.C. your son sees AND how exhausted he is when he gets home!

Please don't be offended, but if I might gently suggest something to you: I understand your referral to your 8th grader as "your baby", but he really isn't anymore. As he gets into his teen years, it is important for you to see him as the young man he is becoming, and realize that he is becoming more independent. I think that allowing him to go on this trip AND stuffing down most of your nerves will help him to enjoy it more; really, how can he enjoy himself fully if he knows that his mom, who loves him so much, is a nervous basketcase at home? (That's not to say that I think you're silly for being nervous, because it's totally natural. I'm just saying that I hope that, in front of him, you are totally "rah rah-ing" about this trip instead of expressing how scared you are.)

Just think of what a great thing you'll be doing for him (and you!) if you get excited about how much he's going to learn and the bonding he's going to have with his friends (old and new); he'll be so excited to come home and share all the details of his trip with you. It's gonna be great. Deep breaths! :)

3 moms found this helpful

Why dont you go along as a chaprone? If that is not a possiblity then I would want to speak to his chaprone and staff member (teachers) going about your concerns. I'm sure that they have done this before, and have many policies and procedures to follow. If your son has a cell phone I would set up the "chaprone feature" on it so you can log in to see exactly where he is at anytime of the day, He can also send you a quick "hi mom relax Im loving every min. of it" to ease your mind. I would let my kids go, this sounds like a trip that is full of history and education to grow on.

1 mom found this helpful

Do they need any chaperons? I remember in 9th grade our German teacher took us to Germany. My parents pretty much agreed to let me go, although after reading your email I know that they must have been a wreck about me leaving (especially since there was still communist East Germany - which we were visiting). Anyway back to my point, when we went our teacher, his wife and probably 3-4 parents went with us. I think it was a group of 12-15 students from 9th-11th grade. Find out if you can go. Just be sure to enjoy yourself and not try to watch over your son too much! Sounds like a great trip.

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This was one of the best experiences of my daughters life...just make sure you get all ther details. Your son will love it and love you for letting him go.

1 mom found this helpful

yes yes yes yes ... as someone who was given this opportunity at your son's age... I emphatically say yes. The program that they go with is very strict and even though they go in areas that might be questionable they are never alone there.

The other idea is for you to chaperone! :)

My son is bi-racial. I will make sure that he knows where both sides of his heritage came from and the struggles that both sides endured. However, I don't remember there being anything that was shocking or hateful on the trip. they are going to focus on the american revolution and the things that founded this country. There will also be focus on some of the civil war, which included slavery, and he may or may not see some of the confines that slaves lived in, but it isn't dwelled up. Frankly, the trip crams in SO much in such a short period of time that there just isn't enough time to sit in one spot for more than a few minutes.

1 mom found this helpful

Go as a chaparone. No one will watch him like you and it will be wonderful memory for the both of you.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K. I hear you, but if you have the money let him go, one out of our 3 wanted to go on this same trip when he was in 8th grade but we just did not have the money, and it broke my heart. You will worry about him and you will miss him, but when he arrives back home safely, you're faith be stronger so the next time he has a once in a life time opportunity it will be a little easier for you. depending on where you live, I doubt he will be the only African American, my kids are half, and here in San Diego, blond hair and blue eyed children are almost a thing of the past these trips are well chaporoned. Hope this helps. J. L.

I think you should try to be a chaperone on the trip. This will make you feel more calm, as you will be able to experience first hand what is going on. Also, I agree with the person who said to begin letting your son grow and become a young man, instead of your baby.

Of course you're scared [hugs] it's rough letting them try their wings and sail out of the nest. It's worrisome when you know they are in an airplane going thousands of miles away. My son went on the 8th grade East Coast trip and I felt all the same things.

Before he left, I teased him that he was going to leave a sock or pair of underwear in every hotel room. The first thing he said when he got back was, "Mom, I brought back ALL my socks and underwear!"

It was a huge growth experience for him. He left as a boy that might get lost or lose his possessions and came back a young man that could take care of himself. My "young man" is now 29 and deployed overseas with the Army National Guard and very able to take care of himself.

A few years after that we went to the Washington area as a family and he acted as tour guide for us. He really learned a LOT about our country and it's history on that trip, as well as seeing New York, which neither his dad or I have seen.

I doubt you could sign up to be a chaperone for this particular trip, there is usually a waiting list among the school staff, but I think that you should speak with the trip coordinator and teachers who are going. Ask all the questions you have, and talk about your concerns, including your fears of racism. It will get you the information you need and allay your fears. The teachers that escort these trips do a wonderful job and it's the experience of a lifetime for your child.

I hope you let him go.

I understand your concern, First, is there an option where you may be able to chaperone? My daughter did this same trip 4 years ago in 8th grd. and she was just fine. The trips seemed to be well chaperoned by the staff. I still feel nervous just talking about it! But in the end I knew it would be a good experience for her and also a reward for her academic achievment. My son in 5th grade has been given the same option this year but parents are allowed and yes I am going. Sometimes us parents need to put our fears aside as hard as it may be. Cell phones are great!

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