SUCCESS - 4H Wonders of Washington (WOW) Trip
By Connie Gerow,
4H Mentoring Site Coordinator
Are we almost there? Where are we now? Where are we going to eat? And, how much longer before we get there? These were amongst the typical questions asked by several of the thirty-six 4H youth from Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties who participated in the 4H Wonders of Washington (WOW) trip.
A year ago, a planning committee worked with the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland to create an itinerary that would include a three night stay at the center and two days of intensive site seeing in Washington, D.C. After establishing a Charter Bus service, the recruitment, commitment and fundraising was set in place.
Beginning in February, a variety of fundraising efforts were employed to assist in paying for a chartered bus. From a matching bottle drive, spaghetti and pancake dinners, breakfast for Mom, 4H Fair concession, to more bottle drives, bake sale, pony rides and donations made by numerous individuals, organizations and businesses, the trip of a lifetime was about to be had.
Departing on Wednesday, October 21st with pickup locations beginning in Plattsburg at the Clinton County Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) office and pickup stops in Malone, Moira, Canton and Broome County CCE office. The two day 10-12 hour bus ride from beginning to end and back again was indeed measurably long but well worth the ride.
Arriving at the National 4H Conference Center we were greeted by Alanna Stapleton, our program assistant, who welcomed our group with name tags and a gift bag for each. Wearing our
4H WOW Staff (Red) and 4H WOW Youth (Yellow) shirts, we were ready to begin day one. Amazed by the maneuverability, and the tight turns by Ron our Bus driver, we made our way to our first stop 1600 Pennsylvania Ave North West – the White House as opposed to North East – McDonald’s for a photo opportunity. Although not the only visitors, we were among a variety other groups who were wearing their signature colors of pink, green, cameo, and purple to name a few. Surrounded by security and elated to have a photo opportunity, the youth were amazed about how small the White House actually was. From there, we made our way to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the celebrated Tomb of the Unknown Solider(s) that is dedicated to military men and women who fell in service to their country and whose remains are unknown. At best, the ceremonial changing of the guards is a grueling, time honored custom that takes place hourly everyday 365 days a year.
After lunch at L’Enfant Plaza food court, we walked to the Holocaust Museum where we learned first-hand by reading and examining numerous pictorial, documentations, video’s and /or dioramas about the torture and death that was imposed on the Jewish people in Germany by the Communist Nazi Party leader Hitler. Day one ended with a visit to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Unfortunately, the Panda exhibit was closed.
Day two was marked with a planned tour to Capitol Hill. Dressed in our Sunday best, we walked up the hill to the backside of this impressively designed symbolical building which is home to the House of Representatives and Senate to the Visitor Center only to stand in a long line to be cleared by security. Amongst many other tourist, we watched a video that provided analogous historical background. Wearing an audio speaker our Capitol Hill tour guide provided the group with a dazzling tour.
After our Capitol Hill tour, we waited outside for U.S. Representative, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik- the youngest women elected to Congress in US history to greet us. Stefanik represents the NY 21st District. Here the youth engaged Stefanik in conversation and were eager to have a “selfie” taken with her. We are grateful to parent, Ron St. Hilaire for making arrangements to meet and have a photo opportunity with Stefanik.
After lunch and touring the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian, one group went to the Air and Space Museum while the other group toured the American Indian Museum. Day two ended with an impressive night tour of the monuments that included the Washington, World War 2, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, and the Lincoln Memorial.
Armed with multiple gifts / souvenirs and exhausted from walking nearly 9 miles each day, our ride back to New York was quite the opposite – QUIET! Although, the 4H WOW trip was short and sweet, the 36 youth and 5 chaperones came back with a renewed sense of well-being. Several of the youth, asked where are we going next? As one chaperone suggested #WOW2017 let the planning begin.
Last updated November 6, 2015