400th Anniversary of the Mayflower’s Arrival in Plymouth

The word “Thanksgiving” conjures up warm childhood memories of paper hand turkeys, feathered headbands, nifty Pilgrim songs, turkey and stuffing. All in all, an accurate representation of our forefathers’ first Thanksgiving, right? Hmmmm…. four hundred years of history tells us that perhaps this isn’t precisely true.

If you want to help set the record straight, plan a student trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2020 for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in Plymouth Harbor. This internationally anticipated event will highlight the story of the Wampanoag and English people and their cultural contributions to America.

Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth Plantation, an interactive 17th century experience centered on the Wampanoag people and the English settlers of Plymouth Colony, will be at the heart of the celebrations. Plimoth Plantation has been committed to sharing a realistic perspective of life in the 1600s since 1947. Visiting student groups will interact with history in a uniquely engaging setting while exploring the daily challenges and triumphs of both the settlers and Native People.

As part of the commemorations, Plimoth’s full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower (the Mayflower II) will be renovated and stand ready to share the experience of traveling across the Atlantic with 102 passengers for 66 days. Students may be shocked that it isn’t quite as luxurious as the cruise ships of modern times!

Pilgrim Hall Museum

Pilgrim Hall Museum will be part of the 400th festivities as well.  Founded in 1824, it is the oldest continuously operating museum in the country.  Pilgrim Hall Museum will exhibit People & Icons of Early Plymouth February through December of 2020.  In addition, a large-scale embroidered tapestry telling the story of Plymouth will be on display.  It promises to be a distinctive tribute to the Wampanoag and English people of 1620.

400th Events in Plymouth

The town of Plymouth will host a series of signature events throughout the year, beginning with an opening ceremony April 24, 2020 at Plymouth’s Memorial Hall. This historic occasion will set the stage for the 400th as guest speakers, performers, international dignitaries and heads of state come together to honor the past and look to the future. Other events slated for 2020-2021 include:

• Official Maritime Salute to the 400th (June 27-28)
• Wampanoag Ancestors Walk (August 15)
• Official State House Salute to the 400th (September 14)
• Embarkation Festival (September 19-20)
• Indigenous History Conference and Pow Wow (October 30 – November 1)

Illuminate Thanksgiving November 20-25, 2020

Thanksgiving Week of 2020 in Plymouth promises to be monumental. Designed with young people in mind, the week’s events are designed to spotlight America’s rich heritage and encourage gratitude and giving in all communities. Activities include:

• America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Concerts (November 20)
• America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade (November 21)
• Illuminate Thanksgiving Festival: “One Small Candle” Ceremony (November 22)
• Thanksgiving Festival Events (November 23-24)

Each of these magnificent gatherings leads up to the Illuminate Thanksgiving Main Event on November 25, 2020. Illuminate Thanksgiving is inspired by Governor William Bradford’s quote, “…as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light kindled hath shone unto many…”

Kaleidoscope Adventures: Educating Students Through Travel

The Plymouth 400th anniversary celebration is LITERALLY a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for students. The expert staff at Kaleidoscope Adventures will help you stake your claim as part of the festivities. Customize a trip to Plymouth or an itinerary around a total New England experience. Either way, it’s a moment in history not to be missed. Call 407-345-4899 to plan your travel beyond expectations!

Make Way for Students

The first time I visited Boston, I was fresh out of college and working for a non-profit. I directed a program in conjunction with public school librarians and had the opportunity to travel with them throughout the country. I distinctly remember leading the way through the Boston Public Gardens as a nave, bright-eyed 22-year old, with 14 librarians trailing behind me. It was oddly representative of the Make Way for Ducklings story by Robert McCloskey, with a quirky twist of characters. Even now I vividly remember marching past the bronze duckling statues and trying not to snicker at the irony of it all!

I fell in love with this charming city (even in the middle of the Big Dig) and have returned many times over the years. It is a spectacular choice for student travelers and librarians alike, always evolving and always exciting. If you travel with students and are looking for a fresh destination, consider Boston as a unique alternative.

Photo courtesy of Freedom Trail Foundation

Boston is a stunning city in which the past co-exists beautifully with the present. Rich in history, student groups can walk the Freedom Trail and experience the genesis of the American Revolution. They can stand in the hallowed space of Faneuil Hall and imagine the inspirational oratory of our forefathers. They can browse the market place, explore the shops, or sample of traditional New England chow-dah.

The USS Constitution is out of dry dock and ready for visitors after a 2 year, meticulous conservation effort. Students can learn about the Constitution and the War of 1812 through narratives, hands-on experiences and self-guided or facilitated programs. The beauty of this attraction is that the education department will work with your group to meet your curricular needs.

Boston Harbor Cruises offers an incredible historical tour of the inner and outer harbors, highlighting tales of land and sea both past and present. Students will also get a crash course in ecology, focusing on the cleanup of the harbor and learn about the nations oldest, continuously manned lighthouse. Very cool!

While your group is hanging around the harbor, they can stop by the New England Aquarium to check out a four-story Caribbean coral reef, the Amazon rainforest, or an adorable colony of penguins. Follow your indoor adventures with an outdoor ride on a wicked fast catamaran. This sleek, high speed vessel (seating up to 400) will quickly take you to the whale-watching action- an experience not to be missed!

Moving from water to land (and back to water!) is the famous Boston Duck Tours. Youll hop aboard an amphibious landing vehicle and travel through the streets of Boston right into the Charles River for the best and most unique views of the city. The ConDUCKtors narrate with both wit and skill, highlighting the very best Boston has to offer.

Wide eyes, blue bodies, paint and percussion your students will LOVE a performance by the Blue Man Group! The silent humor is infectious, the drumming loud and the toilet paper abundant; a perfect recipe for entertaining teenagers. Even those quiet-loving librarians were hooked on the controlled chaos of the show!

Younger students or homeschool groups will appreciate a trip to Legoland Discovery Center Boston, the ultimate indoor Lego playground. Build, play and engage in STEM or Language Arts activities with those wonderful brightly colored building blocks! Theres so much to explore and enjoy!

Dont forget that just a quick drive south is Plimouth Plantation, a completely interactive living history museum detailing Americas founding story and its shared history with the Wampanoag people. Its an amazing journey through time as students chat with Pilgrims going about their daily business or participate in Wampanoag life in the Native American village.

Weve just scratched the surface on what Boston offers students- they can tour Harvard, go behind the scenes of Fenway Park, board the Boston Tea Party ships, get lost in the Mapparium, or check out the new Dreamland Wax Museum. Of course, there are tons of great choices for student accommodations, transportation and dining as well.
If you plan your own trips, check out Group Travel Odysseys Boston page for everything you need to plan your student groups trip in one convenient place. It really streamlines the process and saves time! If you prefer a full-service travel planner, Kaleidoscope Adventures is an industry leader in student travel and will handle all the details of your trip with precision and personal attention.

Every time I visit Boston, I think Ive finally done it all, and every time, Boston surprises me with something new. Thats why Boston is one of the hottest destination trends for student groups and librarians alike. Oh, and when you do visit, check out those bronze ducklings in the Public Gardens and think of my friends trailing behind their 22 year-old leader- I guarantee youll giggle just a little!