By Lauren Jones
Spot any student tour group navigating Manhattan’s brightly-lit Times Square or looking out over the tidal basin from the stairs of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and there at the front of the pack — often sporting a fluorescent umbrella or an even more daring light-saber to identify themselves — is a tour guide.
Tour guides come to the tourism industry with a distinct passion for travel, adventure and history.
What is a guide?
An escort, leader or attendant that spouts off facts about places visited?
They take advantage of their abilities to immerse students into the real-world image they have access to while on tour. These men and women lead student tours in historic cities such as Washington, D.C., and Boston.
However, they are so much more than just guides.
They are experts in street and crowd navigation and planning the logistics of tours.
They can help problem solve and provide teachers with qualified relief, permitting educators to take a step back and watch their students blossom in a completely different learning environment.
But, most importantly, a tour guide has the ability to engage students, appeal to their senses of adventure and expose them to the kinds of in-field learning that can potentially change their lives.
Professionally-guided student tours are full of opportunities for enhanced learning that complement classroom-based lessons.
A good tour guide will produce indispensable teachable moments that go beyond the historical facts students will pick up about the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., or Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
It can mean being responsible for one’s belongings while traveling or acquiring the budgeting skills necessary to keep track of spending money while away from mom and dad.
Exposure to new environments can create the opportunity for a shy student to find her voice and break out of her shell in a new environment.
Learning on a tour may mean getting along with peers that one might not interact with much at school; having an a-ha moment; or giving the student some direction toward a future career.
Quality tour operators want to send the best tour guides on the road to yield maximum educational value and positive experiences for students.
At EF Smithsonian Student Travel, it is common to hand-pick tour guides who prove to be the best fit for the client’s criteria, whether that is a guide well-educated on all of the Civil War battles or one familiar with the Broadway scene in New York.
Matching guides and clients based on skills and interests is beneficial for both parties, ensuring a successful tour for all involved.
The opportunities to engage students while on tours are endless.
Having a remarkable tour guide present who evokes curiosity and inspires life-long learning is invaluable.
A truly qualified professional tour guide will not only have the chops to integrate classroom curricula into the tour, but will also have the interpersonal skills to connect with each student and create a truly memorable experience.
EF Smithsonian Student Travel