What are the benefits of study-abroad programs, senior tours of Europe and spring break humanitarian trips? When high school students travel they have unique opportunities to learn about culture, geography, sociology, history and nature that can enrich and build on what they glean in a classroom.
To that end, the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum system, and Putney Student Travel, a Vermont-headquartered student travel agency, recently announced a partnership of travel programs for high school students. Drawing on the museum’s resources dating back 175 years and Putney’s 70 years of experience, the new Smithsonian Student Travel offers experiences in Washington, DC, as well as other U.S. and international locations.
“We are excited to expand Smithsonian’s global travel experiences with these innovative new programs for high school students,” said Lynn Cutter, senior vice president of Smithsonian Travel, in a statement. “These programs, developed in collaboration with the exceptional team at Putney Student Travel, will educate and inspire high school students to gain the tools necessary to help shape their and our future.”
The initiative features two types of summer programs, both of which are crafted around themes for students who are either curious about a new subject or discipline or want to dive deeper into an existing passion. Based in Washington, DC, Smithsonian On Campus is held on a centrally located campus and takes a deeper look into themes focused on at museum locations, including Air & Space, Democracy & Media, Entrepreneurship, Race & Social Justice, Technology & Innovation and Wildlife & Conservation.
For high schoolers who want to venture farther, Student Journeys take them to domestic and international locales to give them a deeper understanding of a place’s history, culture, cuisine, language and environment. Options include learning about the evolution of sustainable design in Denmark and at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City (14 days, $6,990 plus airfare), exploring climate change and renewable energy in Iceland (15 days, $7,990 plus airfare) and delving into marine ecology and conservation on Vancouver Island (15 days, $6,490 plus airfare).
The programs are open to students in grades eight through 12 who are at least 13 on the date of departure. Spaces are filled via a rolling admissions process, though applicants are encouraged to apply early to secure a spot on their first-choice program. To hold a space, students must complete the online application and provide a $700 deposit, $500 of which goes towards tuition while $200 is a non-refundable application fee. Before a final decision is made, a student must also submit a personal statement and two teacher reference forms. Tuition covers all day-to-day expenses including three meals each day, lodging, entertainment, excursions, entry fees, bike and boat rentals, all transportation during the program, equipment rental, taxes and tips.
“The Smithsonian’s dedication to learning is well known, and it has earned its reputation as one of America’s most trusted institutions,” said Jeffrey Shumlin, director of Putney Student Travel, in a statement. “At a time when quality and trust are more important than ever, we are proud to be working with this iconic institution to offer these distinctive travel experiences.”
Smithsonian museums remain closed due to the ongoing pandemic, but the first programs are still expected to launch this coming summer.
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