Every spring, the mall upon which my office sits fills up with tour groups of kids visiting the Washington, DC area on various field trips. The lunch lines grow to exaggerated lengths and the noise and voluability is almost unbearable.
But the kids all look like they are having a great time. In fact, they look very much like the mall is the place that they want to be. Forget the Air & Space museum. Forget the Washington Monument. The two and a half hours they spend in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City seems to be the height of their trip.
It got me thinking. Were we like this on our field trips when we were in junior high school (or middle school)? I think the answer, at least in my case, is yes. I remember going on a trip to the Rose Bowl. I don’t remember the purpose of the trip, but I remember lunch in a park afterward as being the highlight. Trips to the LACMA were boring, but the noontime festivities made up for that boredom. In fact, on looking back on it, lunchtime was the highlight of nearly every field trip I can remember, with only a few rare exceptions (Sturbridge Village in grade school, and our downtown L.A. trip in 11th grade).
It makes me wonder if there is a dual-purpose to these trips. One the one hand, the trips please parents because their children are being introduced to “culture”. On the otherhand, the trip provides a way for kids to get out of the classroom and blow of steam. Especially since most of them could care less about culture.