If you’re looking for a school or scout field trip destination that includes 175+ years of history, fascinating and awe-inspiring U.S. Navy and Marine Corps stories, a bit of maritime lore, gorgeous seaside views and architecture and the excitement of an active military academy, look no further. There’s a reason why USNA hosts over 14,000 students each year.
They range from kindergarten through college age, and from a large variety of places. Groups come from all over the U.S. for these Annapolis field trips. In fact, Heather Skipper, Hospitality Sales Manager for the Naval Academy Business Services Division (NABSD), notes that while there were mostly East coast schools and scouts coming in the past, there are now a number of Midwest and even Western states making the trip. California sends many high schools on multi-week itineraries that include the sights, museums and monuments in Washington D.C., and they often schedule a trip to USNA in Annapolis, as well as touring Baltimore.
An Enduring Scouts Connection
For years, USNA has had a special partnership with the scouts and takes pride in welcoming troops of all sizes. When the Scout Jamboree was local, the Academy played a large role; since it moved locations, USNA continues to partner and reach out to scout troops across the region. In fact, USNA recently reinstated a special scout patch. Navy Sports also hosts a wildly popular Navy Football Scout Day annually, drawing more than 2,000 scouts and their families to experience one of the home Naval Academy football games. They often take a tour while they’re here.
USNA Field Trips for Every Age and Subject
The U.S. Naval Academy offers a variety of field trip tours, specially tailored for each group. They can accommodate anywhere from 20 people up to hundreds, depending upon the group’s specific needs. With a stable of 50 tour guides, they are able to handle it all with a little planning! While most school and scout groups come in the spring, there is plenty of availability in the fall as well, so consider looking then, too.
USNA Bootcamp: Start Them Young!
A boot camp for kids from kindergarten through fourth grade provides one hour of on-the-job training to be a midshipman. “It’s a great way to engage our youngest students. They learn what it’s like to be a midshipman through the physical motions of learning how to drill, salute properly and follow commands. I can tell you that the chaperones are also so excited because it really teaches them to listen and follow instructions,” says Skipper. At its conclusion, the group leaders receive a transformed group that listens much better than they did just an hour before!
Historical Yard Tour: Step into the Midshipmen’s Footsteps
For junior high school through high school and college, the 90-minute Historical Yard Tour is the perfect introduction to the Academy. Students learn about the fascinating founding and history of USNA. Skipper explains, “It allows our students to step into the footsteps of our current midshipmen, learning about their daily activities, their schedules, their academics and their physical journey.” It’s a great glimpse into midshipmen's life.
Student Youth Leadership Program: Get a Real Taste of the Academy
For those who are contemplating attending the Academy someday, the Student Youth Leadership program offers a half-day visit several times during the summer for junior high school and freshmen and sophomores in high school. “This program gives students who may have an interest in leadership skills or character-building programs as well as an interest in perhaps applying to the USNA at some point in their future a peek behind the curtain to see what it’s like to be a midshipman today,” notes Skipper. It also features an engaging presentation from the alumni who are certified tour guides, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the Yard and exciting role-play activities where the students are challenged with honor concepts and how a leader would go about making a good decision. Students who are curious about attending benefit well from this program.
Anchors Aweigh: For Those Who Love Music
Students in music programs and bands often gravitate to the recently updated “Anchors Aweigh” Naval Academy tour that highlights the Academy’s musical history up to now, with an engaging presentation by retired Navy musician Dave Hanner. He showcases one of its most famous musicians, the man who wrote their fight song “Anchors Aweigh” —Charles Zimmerman. The trip concludes with a rousing grand finale of the Naval Academy Band performing at the Zimmerman Bandstand.
Before these tours, many of the groups watch “The Call to Serve,” a brief and moving overview of life at the Naval Academy that’s shown all day long at the USNA visitor center. This gives them a good overview before they step into the story themselves.
How to Plan a USNA Field Trip
It’s very simple to plan a field trip to the Yard. Head to NavalAcademyTourism.com, where you’ll find all of the tours and their descriptions listed. Once you decide on your tour, you can click on the “Book Now” button. You’ll fill out a brief form and the NABSD booking team will contact you via email or phone to confirm the reservation. If you’re looking for additional trip opportunities in the area, Chesapeake Crossroads Heritage Area lists a number of historic and beautiful sites to visit throughout Anne Arundel County. They are easy to pair with a trip to USNA.
Take a Field Trip with Us!
We love welcoming groups aboard the Yard. The energy they bring is contagious, and when it’s mixed with the mystique of Annapolis history, it makes for an unforgettable trip. We strive to provide an experience where they can step into history-in-the-making and become part of it themselves.
These trips also help the midshipmen. Every USNA tour, USNA Gift Shop, Midshipmen Store and Navyonline.com purchase, as well as every dining experience gives back to the Brigade. All profits go to them. So you’re supporting the midshipmen when you visit. Come, book a field trip and explore the Yard. It’s time to make history!