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If you were going to DC....

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where would you take scouts? I've never been and I've been looking at Greenbelt Park for camping. Thanks to the person who told me about it. Now, I need to hear some input from people who have been there and more importantly, those who've taken scouts there and what they really liked. Did you take tours or do our own tour? Where did you go? How did you get there? Did you hook up with a tour agent? Thanks!

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If it were me, I would skip the White House and the Capitol Building (except for viewing the exteriors). Heavy security and interminable lines just won't sit well with active Scouts.


I would stick with the memorials. The Washington Monument, Jefferson Monument, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Monument, the Wall (Vietnam War Memorial), and the World War II Memorial. If time permits, visit the other war memorials in the mall.


I would visit the National Zoo, if just for a brief time to view the Pandas. How many times will your Scouts get to view live Pandas?


If I were to take them to any of the Smithosonian Museums, my first choice would be the Air and Space Museum, and second choice the Museum of the American Indian (next to Air & Space) and third choice would be the Museum of Natural History.


At this point I would "get out of Dodge" as it were and do some things in the area. The Great Falls National Park in Potomac offers hikes along the Potomac River and views of the Great Falls of the Potomac.


I'd visit the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center National Wildlife Refuge up the road from Greenbelt and visit the visitors center and hike their trails.


I'd only use a travel agent if I were renting cars, booking air travel or booking hotel rooms (yes - use a travel agent to book hotel rooms for groups - not online - you get a better guarantee and a live person to talk to if something gets screwed up). If you're driving and camping, I can't see a reason for a travel agent.


What I would likely do first, though; is gather some guidebooks and hand them out to the Scouts at a meeting with an assignment to choose places they would be interested in visiting by the next meeting. At that meeting, collect their ideas and collate them (look for duplicates (and multicates (3,4, etc))) and when collating, write down next to a place, the number of people that suggested it (for instance, you might have 4 Scouts say they would like to visit the Lincoln Memorial, 6 Scouts say the Washington Monument, 1 Scout say the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site)and present them to the PLC to winnow through - have them do some research on them to make some first choices and some fallback choices.



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One of the best kept secrets in DC is the summer evening parades at the Marine Barracks. Tickets are free, but you have to know someone. Your congressional representative could probably help you. This is real spit and polish close order drill that your boys will love. I don't know if they do these at other times of the year than the summer. If you do a google search you can probably find out much more.

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This summer our troop traveled from MI to NC for summer camp, and we were looking at DC as a possible stopping point along the way. Although we ultimately ended up stopping elsewhere (US Naval Academy in Annapolis MD - rated "very cool" by boys and adults alike), I received many excellent suggestions from folks on this site regarding places to go in DC. You might want to check out this thread: http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=145187#id_145187



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With tremendous predjudice I agree with Mr. Eisely. Semper Fi!


Don't forget the National Archives.


Nobody mentioned the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington.


The Spy Museum is OK if you prep them about how the US and Soviets were in the post war years. (Tough for them to grasp)


Go to Arlington House and hear about General Lee's decision in the Civil War and subsequent siezing of his home and then payment to future a generation.


Ford's Theatre and the House across the street.


Across the street from the White House there is an interpretive center that is almost as good as the White house.


The Postal Museum is good for Kids and big Kids. The History of the Postal Service was interesting for my Son at 11.


Skip the National Aquarium ---Sea World is much better.



As far as the Marine Barracks Eigth and I. Look it up on the net and call them. I am sure with enough notice they will get you Tickets. The Silent Drill Team is a must see.


Prepare the boys for lots of walking and I might even bend the game boy rule to allow that while waiting in line at some places depending on if you go during a school break or for summer.


Just remember (in the North at least ) history is not as exciting as it used to be for kids. I would suppose that History is more important in the South. That's one of the things I admire about the South.

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You've already gotten some good advice. I agree that the White House and Capitol are too much of a hassle. However, you might call your Congressperson's office to see if he or she would like to meet the troop. Especially if your group is not too big, you might visit his or her office and take a picture.

Just to clarify--there are two locations of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Both are very good. One is on the mall, with the other museums, and the other one is near Dulles. Both are free, but you need transport for the one near Dulles, and you have to pay for parking.

The Spy Museum is OK, but it costs money, and is maybe a little too commercial.

And don't forget the Boy Scout Memorial--see http://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/explore-the-southern-trail.htm

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Once you're at Greenbelt Park, you can hike to a subway station that will take you anywhere you want to go in DC.

Leave the cars behind - you will get lost.


The folks above have covered most of the highpoints, but I will offer something higher still.


A few miles up the road from Greenbelt Park is the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The first Sunday of every month they open their launch pad to the public for model rocket launches.


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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a neat experience. Definitely the Library of Congress. I think the CIA in Langley still offers tours. Haven't been there since before 9/11, but the Pentagon tour was a good one. The FBI one was interesting, too.


Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington memorials. And the Jane Fonda one. Rent a paddle boat to play around on the Potomac.


Since it's a Scout troop, try and get your Congressman to make time for you. It's a good photo op for you and for him, and he may be willing to set up something unique.


The White House tour is something to do once so they can say they did. The best one we did was the Easter Egg hunt on the front lawn. They pick kids, though, so there's never a guarantee you'd get in -- unless you have really cute little Scouts. LOL


Schedule a tour at Georgetown if you can. It's beautiful, and the atmosphere is great. Lot of street performers at the mall on Friday and Saturday nights.


Do you have any Scouts of other cultures? A tour of one of the embassies of his heritage could probably be arranged.


When are you going? August is miserable -- way crowded, hot, and humid. May is gorgeous! If you can get their parents to agree to let them out of school early, you'll miss a lot of headache and crowds.


Build in the cost to get a MetroRail pass. There were some days I spent simply riding the Metro and people watching *s*. Only $22/wk if you're willing to forgo rush hour.


You could also travel a little further and arrange a tour at the Naval Academy. Their Eagle Scout society used to hold a Scout Jamboree every year. You might find out beforehand.


That's the key -- beforehand. Plan out everything.


I'd stay out of downtown DC after dark, unless you're very careful to remain in a tight group. Although the crime rate is decreasing, it's still high.


If you want to eat out, but you don't want to spend the $150pp at Mr. K's (absolutely worth it!), try Song Que Vietnamese Food (less than $10) or Costco in Arlington (old town is neat to visit in Arlington as well).


I spent some younger years bopping around in the area that I'll not soon forget *s*. DC is definitely a unique destination.

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