When you picture Maryland, what comes to mind? If you thought of the ocean and fresh seafood, you certainly won’t be disappointed. But Maryland has so much more to offer for student groups. As one of the original 13 colonies, it has a rich history for students to discover and experience firsthand.
Embark on an Exhilarating Excursion
Students need a balance of fun and education during any trip, and Maryland has plenty of ways to appease thrill-seeking groups. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, you should go to Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park in Ocean City. Students work on their team building skills by going through three obstacle courses that contain 47 different elements, and by going down over 1,200 feet of zip lines. Next, experience what two Gs of force feels like on Terrapin Adventures’ Giant Swing in Savage. This outdoor adventure center also includes attractions such as a climbing tower, zip lines and high ropes.
If you’d prefer to pump your adrenaline indoors, head to Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Jessup. It contains two grand prix-style tracks with vehicles that go up to 50 mph.
Education Served with Entertainment
Medieval Times in Baltimore offers so much more than just dinner and a show. They have an educational matinee show that covers topics including knighthood, feudalism, falconry, weaponry, elements of modern day theatre and horsemanship. The experience is perfect for any student group studying the Middle Ages—it takes you back in time from the authentic costumes to literal hands-on dining.
Destination Education by Watermark enables students to ask questions about Maryland’s history and the world around them through educational walking tours and narrated sightseeing cruises. The walking tour includes period-dressed guides who take groups through the Maryland State House and the U.S. Naval Academy. Specialty tours are available that include African American Heritage and the War of 1812. Another program they offer is the Challenge of the Pirate Quest. Students board a boat that takes them around the Chesapeake Bay while learning about pirate history and lore. They have to work together to figure out the mystery behind the hidden treasure!
United States Naval Academy offers tours of the facility that cover important events, history and traditions. They also have a one-hour long program called Navy Way Boot Camp that teaches students Navy terms and how to march, chant and follow orders. Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center of the United States Naval Academy has educational tours that explain the relation between the Navy and U.S.- and world-history. Inside the visitor center is the United State Naval Academy Museum that devotes an entire floor to antique ship models. They also offer leadership programs for students.
Put the Environment in Focus
Located off the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland has many opportunities for students to learn about the environment. One location for students to learn about Maryland’s ecology is at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville. The center is a 510-acre wildlife preserve that gives students an opportunity to explore native woodlands, tidal marshes and meadows—all while learning the importance of bay stewardship through hands-on experiences. Sample programs are Catch a Bay Critter, Remarkable Oysters, Birds of Prey, Build-a-Buoy, Rotten Log Scavenger Hunt and a guided kayak tour.
Pemberton Historical Park spans 262 acres and features programs that help students understand the importance of environmental education through hiking, kayaking and a wilderness survival course.
Montgomery Parks, a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland across the region, consisting of 420 parks. Each Nature Center works with public and private schools, special needs programs and home-school programs to provide variety of free services, educational programming, social and cultural events and volunteer opportunities. Whatever environmental focus you want your students to take, such as lake- and water-ecology, wildlife and maintenance/recycling, Montgomery Parks will make the arrangements.
One of the Original 13 Colonies Emanates History
Pemberton Hall, located at the aforementioned Pemberton Historical Park, is an 18th-century plantation. A tour takes students back to the 18th century to understand the daily life of the people who lived there.
Explore the history of the American railroad at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. There are multiple student tours available to help students understand the importance trains played in history. There is an interactive tour available that teaches students about the first 13 miles of railroad that connected Baltimore and Elliot City. There is even the opportunity to ride on an old steam engine train, Mile One Express, along the first commercial mile of railroad in the United States.
Maryland was at once the home to arguably one of the most influential African American writers, Frederick Douglass, author of A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Built in 1895, Douglass’ summer home in Highland Beach now serves as the Frederick Douglass Museum and cultural center to preserve the life and history of Douglass and his family.
Jefferson Patterson Park, located in St. Leonard, is the home of the Maryland Archaeology Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab). This facility is the go-to place for any project in the state that requires archaeologic studies, and offers behind-the-scenes tours as well as field opportunities. A major Maryland battle during the War of 1812 occurred here; it is the location of colonial settlements including the home of Maryland’s first governor; and the site was a Native American hunting ground thousands of years ago.
This provides a taste of student-friendly activities available in Maryland. Its rich history and location along the East Coast provides for a plethora of educational and adventurous opportunities. Familiar with Maryland? Tell us what you think are the top student activities below!