EMP, it's an experience allright | Commentary

Both Jason and I consider ourselves to be involved parents. That’s why we have repeatedly chosen to offer our services as chaperones on various Bremerton School District and Boys and Girls Club related field trips or excursions over the years.

Depending on which time of year the field trips fall, we take turns using our available vacation days from work so that we can volunteer to help in any way possible.

Over the years the two of us have been on some very interesting adventures with several fantastic groups of young people. Everything from the Point Defiance Zoo, a hiking nature trip up Green Mountain, Wild Waves, the Pacific Science Center, the Nutcracker ballet production at Bremerton High School, and so on.

This past week, it was my turn on the field trip rotation schedule so off to Experience Music Project I went with a large majority of the fifth grade population from West Hills STEM Academy.

We met up at the Starbucks near the Bremerton Ferry Terminal at 8:10 a.m., received our group assignments and loaded nearly 100 additional bodies onto the ferry – much to the cringing horror of any commuter  that had expected to grab their quiet morning nap.

Keeping together and herding various groups of 10 and 11 year olds forward in a continuous motion for the nearly 1.8 mile hike up to the base of the Space Needle is much more exhausting that it sounds. Exhausting for your ears, eyes and feet.

The exhibits contained in Experience Music Project are incredible and well worth seeing on an individual level. Rare instruments, quirky music history and interactive activities are unique and fun. Experiencing all of it with a group of kids is even better.

Each of our chaperoned groups had a packet of questions to answer, activities to do and summaries to write throughout the entire day from start to finish.

Nick really enjoyed the Avatar Exhibit. I personally loved the Battlestar Galactica experience that was a combination of both the old and new version of the TV series. I am dating myself when I reveal that I was just a couple of years younger than Nick is now, when the first series was broadcast in 1978.

The only negative aspect of the day was several of the EMP staff that treated us like they were doing us an enormous favor by just allowing us to be there. If you do decide to or happen to go in a large group, make sure it is a nice day because the EMP management will make you eat outside. Only paying customers are allowed to eat in the EMP restaurant which was rather large and stayed mostly empty the entire time we had to sit outside in the cold with the kids.

The EMP staff also did not like the fact that we all met back up in the main lobby to check in before beginning the 1.8 mile trek back to the ferry. Once again we were firmly pressed to congregate outside in the cold on the sidewalk where it was much harder to keep the group together.

Overall I was very happy that many of the kids from West Hills were able to enjoy  that day at EMP. Based on how we were treated by certain staff members, I myself will not go there again and would encourage other school districts to really review and consider well in advance all EMP policies on backpacks, personal food items, lunch seating locations, weather and transportation before they decide if EMP is the right experience for their students.

A really big thanks to Stephanie Devey, CJ Young and Trude Winters all fifth grade West Hills STEM teachers for tackling this grand adventure head on with an impressive amount of organization and a considerable amount of personal and professional fortitude. You guys did a great job!


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