Salt River High School’s JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) class traveled to San Diego on February 13 and 14 to visit the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Tour for their annual field trip. The group of 24 students and their chaperones arrived at the school at 5 a.m. to board the Blue Diamond bus to San Diego.
“The Salt River Children’s Foundation funded most of the trip, and we would like to thank them,” said JROTC instructor Sam Carter.
The group arrived in San Diego by noon, gathering at the pier by the Maritime Museum to begin their adventure. The Maritime Museum of San Diego offers a unique educational program for school groups in which the students relive history, learn about oceanography, and actually eat and sleep on board a ship for a one- or multi-day cruise.
Carrying their sleeping bags, the students boarded the Star of India, one of the oldest sailing ships in the United States, and received their instructions and assignments. After getting an overview of the ship and learning about safety precautions, the first lesson was on naval history and the spirit of teamwork.
Science was also incorporated into the field trip. The students learned about oceanography; elements of physics such as motion, force, work and energy; and the use of machines while aboard a ship.
The students got a taste of what daily life is like aboard a ship. “A lot of the students have never been out on the open ocean, or even seen the ocean,” Carter said. “During the cruise we saw a whale, and when another ship or boat would pass by, the people would give the traditional sailor’s greeting, ‘hip, hip hooray!’ to our ship and wave at the students.”
The students stayed out on the ocean for four hours and were greeted by a cannon salute when they re-entered the harbor.
“We also got to raise the tribal flag on the ship when we sailed,” said Carter, “to support where we came from.”
The experience included shipboard team-building activities and problem-solving challenges, like filling up a huge barrel and lifting it two stories high, all without talking to each other.
“They did really well and fought through it,” said Carter.
The students toured several other ships while they were in San Diego, including the USS Dolphin, a research submarine and the deepest-diving manned submarine in the U.S. Navy. Then they toured a Soviet Foxtrot Class submarine to see how different a Soviet sub is from an American sub. The students also went aboard the actual sailing ship used in the 2003 movie Master and Commander and met one of the actors from the movie.
On the final day they took a four-hour tour of the USS Midway Museum. The USS Midway was the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier in the 20th century, and it has now been turned into a museum. Exhibits range from the crew’s sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, post office, machine shops and pilots’ ready rooms, plus the flight control area and the bridge. The students visited all the areas of the ship.
Carter said, “Each year I focus on a different branch of the service for the field trip. Last year the JROTC went to the Marine Corps Air Show, this year was the Navy and next year will be the Air Force. They get to see the different sides of the military branches so they can see which ones they like in case they decide to join the service.”
The JROTC program helps set a foundation for students to succeed in the future, whether they decide to join the military or not. “We get students in the class who sometimes do not have great self-esteem and are shy; we teach them to be well-rounded citizens. They learn to communicate better, their grades go up, they make more friends and start making goals for themselves,” said Carter.
He added that JROTC is not all about marching at local events. “We have guest speakers at least once a week to talk to the students about different subjects, such as how to manage your money and other life skills,” Carter said.