USS Yorktown - 2006
One hundred twenty-three parents and children joined us for a two-night campout on Charleston's famous aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. We met at the Yorktown on Sunday, December 3, spent two nights on board, and departed on the morning of Tuesday, December 5.
After getting oriented on Sunday and stowing our gear in our berthing quarters, some of us ate dinner together at a nearby restaurant to get to know each other better. Then we re-boarded the Yorktown, toured the ship for a while, and then met to watch a movie in the ship's theater. Everyone was tired the first night and was ready for "light's out" at 11:00 pm.
We had breakfast in the ship's mess hall the next morning before participating in special science and history educational programs, a tour of Fort Sumter, and self-guided tours of the ship throughout the day. That night we were treated to a film about the USS Yorktown.
The weather started out wet and dreary, but ended up sunny and beautiful. This was a great time of year to go. According to the locals, visitors shouldn't go if it's above 70 degrees outside because the ship gets hot inside with the higher temperatures. And since we went midweek, we also avoided the crowd of 500-600 scouts that usually stay on board during the weekends.
Exploring the ship was a wonderfully historic (and adventurous) experience. It's huge (a little longer than the Titanic), and had a maze-like interior that we all (children and adults) enjoyed navigating. There were also planes and helicopters to tour. They have three other ships that visitors can explore: a submarine, a destroyer, and a Coast Guard ship. All were worth a visit, especially the submarine.
The staff that coordinated the program for us were great, although there were a couple of times that they seemed a little unprepared for us (they're not as experienced with mid-week groups, I think). The special science and history programs received mixed reviews. It seemed to depend on the age of the child on whether he/she enjoyed them or not (but most said they were worth doing again). The tour to Fort Sumter was great - most of us wished we could've spent more time there.
Most of the meals were good, but the boxed lunch could've been better. The first night in the women's berthing area was a little rocky due to the staff mistakenly turning on the air conditioner instead of the heater. (Brrr...) The climate in the men's berth was better.
Overall, I've received very positive reviews of the trip, and many want to go again, or have told friends about the trip who want to go next time. I've talked to the program coordinators about ways to improve our next experience, and they look forward to hosting us again. I'm tentatively planning another trip to the Yorktown in December 2007, so watch for updates.
Thanks to everyone who traveled with us the first time!