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FernLeaf's Overnight Experience: From a 9th Grader's Perspective

FernLeaf offers incredible educational overnight programs. Last year was my first time participating in an overnight field trip with FernLeaf. All the ninth-grade students traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the history curriculum. Before traveling, we delved into US history creating a more rich experience when we arrived on site!

Early in the morning, we all arrived at FernLeaf's Campus to board the bus. We enjoyed the company of our teachers and classmates. After the long eight-hour drive, we arrived at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar Hazy Center. The museum displayed numerous large airplanes, rockets, jets, shuttles, and space equipment. My friends and I walked around, exploring before finally giving in and visiting their gift shop and food court.

After arriving at the hotel and getting settled, we had pizza for dinner. We enjoyed each other's company before reviewing the itinerary for the next day. After our trip meeting, all the students and a few teachers went to unwind by the pool and enjoy themselves.

In the morning, most of us went down to check out the hotel's breakfast, which was surprisingly good. After a quick breakfast, we all gathered and boarded the bus for an exciting day filled with fun activities and sightseeing. When we arrived downtown, we visited the Washington Monument. After visiting the monument, we split into four different groups to visit various museums. Our teacher, David, took some students to visit the National History Museum. Tanya went to the American History Museum. Lisa and Hannah visited the National Gallery of Art, and Vic took some people to the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art.

After visiting numerous remarkable museums and the Washington Monument, it was time to satisfy our rumbling stomachs. We found numerous food trucks outside the National Science Museum. After we gathered and satisfied our stomachs, we headed to the memorials. We first visited the World War II Memorial, then went over to the Lincoln Memorial, which was massive and quite chilly. This was amazing because it was so hot outside. We then visited the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. After visiting the memorials, monuments, and museums, as well as sampling the variety of food trucks, we boarded the bus.

Some of us were capturing moments with photographs and taking in the surroundings, while others were catching up on some much-needed rest. After taking a couple of refreshing naps, we arrived at the Pentagon City Mall, explored the food court, and enjoyed a satisfying dinner. The mall was enormous and packed with numerous stores, but we didn't have much time to visit them. We hopped back onto the bus and headed to our hotel. When we returned, we gathered at the basketball court for our community meeting to discuss what we should expect for tomorrow. Most of us hung out in the pool while the others went to bed, eagerly anticipating tomorrow's adventures.

In the morning, we quickly grabbed breakfast, gathered together, and boarded the bus. Our bus dropped us off at the metro station near Dulles Airport. Vic, Tanya, and David handed out our metro cards, and we quickly walked through the tunnel and emerged at the entrance of the Metro station. When we got on the Metro, it was a long hour until we arrived in the city. We quickly navigated through the transfer station lines. Once we arrived in the city, we made our way to the Holocaust Museum. The exhibit was a powerful and upsetting experience for me and many others.

After visiting the museum, my friends and I went to the Western Market food hall. We grabbed sandwiches and then headed to a French dessert store and grabbed a massive macaron. After lunch, we went to the National Zoo. There were lots of animals, as well as many gift shops and food trucks around the zoo. We explored the museum for a few hours and then regrouped at the front. Afterward, we went to a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner, which was amazing. After dinner, we took the long and tiring walk back to the metro station, where we hopped on and off at different transfer stations. Once we arrived back at Dulles Airport, we boarded the bus and returned to the hotel for a much-needed rest. After arriving back at the hotel, we gathered together and had a meeting to reflect on our day and lay out the itinerary for tomorrow.

After packing and grabbing breakfast, we loaded the luggage onto the bus and headed to our final destination in Washington: Arlington National Cemetery. We must have waited a while to go through the security line. Once we were in the cemetery, we walked to the eternal flame and saw the Jefferson Memorial. Some students wanted to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, so Hannah and a few students jogged over to the area. They arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard ceremony. Observing the quiet and the people filming the guards was peaceful. After the changing of the guard, we headed back to meet with the group, took water and bathroom breaks, and then boarded the bus for a long drive ahead of us. 

It was a great trip!

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