By Stefanie McCall
Sixteen Girl Scouts plus 10 adults, times five days in Washington, D.C., equal lots of great memories! On July 6, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland traveled to our nation’s capital for the annual summer trip. Girls and adults from across the council met at the St. Louis airport to begin their adventure.
The days were packed full of sight-seeing and jam packed with activities including a night sail down the Potomac River, dinner at Nando’s Peri Peri (favorite restaurant of the band One Direction), and an impromptu jam session with a street musician playing drums on buckets.
We explored the Smithsonian museums where girls were able to climb aboard a space shuttle, touch a moon rock, view the Hope Diamond, dinosaurs, mummies, animal skeletons, and an entire zoo worth of taxidermy animals. The highlight of the American History museum was seeing the actual Star Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become American’s National Anthem. What an inspirational piece of history to see first-hand! We also got to see fun things like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz; Kermit, the frog; Julia Child’s actual kitchen, and the Girl Scout display!
We immersed ourselves in many of the iconic activities of Washington, D.C. with visits to the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, which is easily one of the most ornate and beautiful buildings in Washington, D.C. After grabbing lunch from local food trucks we experienced our first rain shower in D.C., but were luckily headed to the National Archives where it was nice and dry! Girls saw the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as well as many historical documents pertaining to the founding of our country. To our surprise the National Archives was full of hands-on-activities that made history come alive. We were able to listen to actual phone conversations of past presidents, view an address by President Eisenhower after the ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education, and edit video clips to make our own news cast. Next on the agenda was walking to see the many monuments commemorating our presidents and nation’s heroes. That evening, many girls attended a free concert at the Kennedy Center while some opted to go back to the hotel for some rest. We had a late dinner that night at Founding Farmers where girls discovered candied bacon!
A trip to Washington, D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the National Zoo. The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Museums and is one of only four zoos in the US with giant pandas. The male was taking a nap, but was thoughtful enough to be right near the glass wall so we could get an up close view of him while the female munched on some bamboo and tried to get her keepers to let her inside. After visiting with the pandas and seeing many other animals we went to Arlington National Cemetery. We took a guided bus tour through the cemetery, viewing the grave of President Kennedy, and watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Another great adventure was the International Spy Museum. As soon as you arrive, you assume your “cover” (mine was Greta Schmidt) and throughout the museum you have to answer questions to see if you can maintain your cover. There were interactive games to test your observation skill, and girls crawled through an air duct to spy on people below, and got to test their James Bond skills by hanging on to a moving bar (our girls longest time was 59 seconds). On display were actual spy tools – everything from a lipstick gun to a trench coat with a camera in a button. And best of all, because we were a Girl Scout group, we all got patches! We had a great dinner at the Hard Rock Café (another special Girl Scout Patch!) and then walked by the White House to see it lit up at night on our way back to the hotel.
On our final day, we toured The Capitol Building. Per the request of the girls, we added a visit to the Holocaust Museum to our itinerary. The Holocaust Museum was a very intense experience and the girls felt strongly about going. I was very proud of them for wanting to honor such a sad time in the history of the world.
Our trip was full of many amazing experiences. The girls not only got to see our country’s history, and the institutions that make our country great, but they got to experience the hustle and bustle of a big city. They learned to navigate the metro system like pros and we walked miles and miles in exploration! I know that many of them have made long lasting friendships. And best of all, our girls were able to expand their world view as only travel can do. It was a privilege to be able to provide this opportunity for our girls and I look forward to my next batch of travelers!