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Experiential Trips


GUS students participate in an exciting array of experiential learning trips from the time they enter kindergarten to the time they graduate from eighth grade. These trips are embedded in the fabric of the school; we believe that students need to explore the world around them in order to experience the places and events that they first learn about in their classrooms. First graders, for example, travel to the Butterfly Place after they observe and record the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly. Third graders tour the North End in Boston and visit the State House as an extension of their study of cities and city governments. Sixth graders tour Dogtown Common in Gloucester to study Native American rituals and stone structures as part of their study of prehistoric people. Eighth grade field trips include a day trip to a lab at MIT, a day Freedom Trail walk, and a four day academically-focused trip to New York City that enhances their study of immigration.

By the end of eighth grade, students have had ample opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of New England, as well as to experience first-hand the topics of the classroom. The abstract is made real, and the memories of these trips last a lifetime.

Overnight Trips

Beginning in fourth grade, each grade of students has at least one extended field trip that involves being away from school (and home) for one to three nights. These overnight trips are described in more detail below. 

Read Director of Upper School Gretchen Forsyth's explanation of how GUS overnight trips establish strong foundations and foster unity in "Twenty Years of Community Building."

Fourth Grade Trip to Mystic Seaport

Fourth graders participate in a three-day, two-night, hands-on experience at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut. Students investigate and work to resolve issues that might have challenged early sailors and seafaring communities. They climb the rigging, row small boats, and sleep on a square-rigger. The past is brought to life as students create their own scrimshaw and sing sea chanteys.

Fifth Grade Trip to Chewonki's Outdoor Classroom

In conjunction with their theme “The Land,” fifth graders spend four days and three nights at Chewonki's Outdoor Classroom in Wiscasset, Maine. Working in teams, they are encouraged to learn camping skills, develop respect for the environment, solve group challenges, and explore various ecological topics.

Upper School Retreat to Camp Winaukee

On the Thursday and Friday of the second week of school, the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, along with their teachers, spend two days together at Camp Winaukee, in New Hampshire, working on individual and upper school goals. The object of this trip is to build a community within the whole upper school and set goals for the year.

Sixth Grade Cultural Studies Trip to Heifer International Global Village.

In the spring, the sixth graders go to the Heifer International Global Village in Rutland, Massachusetts, and through interactive exhibits and activities are immersed in the study of cultures around the world.

Seventh Grade Hiking Trip with Appalachian Mountain Club

In the spring, the seventh graders, along with some of their teachers, spend a few days hiking together in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a trip led by staff members of the Appalachian Mountain Club. This trip is an effective way to strengthen class bonds, foster interdependence among students and faculty, and nurture respect for individual differences.

Eighth Grade Trip to New York City

In October the eighth graders depart for a four-day learning experience in New York City. The focus of the trip is immigration and is a natural extension of their study of United States history. Students look at immigration from a variety of viewpoints, informed by tours of the United Nations, the Tenement Museum, and Ellis Island.  Students also attend a Broadway play and visit one or two museums related to their studies in humanities and art.