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Is Italy in Your Future?

July 16, 2014
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

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In an effort to go “beyond the walls” and enhance the quality of student education, Indian Rocks Christian School has formulated a travel program that is providing hands-on student exposure to history, science, geography, different cultures, and spiritual growth in an educational and enjoyable format. We have targeted three specific areas travel effects:

1.) It transforms and expands a student’s worldview by exposing them to new thoughts, ideas, and appreciations for the world in which we live.

2.) It transposes preexisting social barriers. Student travel assimilates diverse groups of people for a specific event, creating new friend clusters and relationships.

3.) It transcends our normal ability to impact a student for Christ. Students that travel develop an openness and vulnerability that if acted upon, can be life changing. Each leader is asked to implement regularly scheduled devotions. These times reveal God’s Truth, help students understand all they have seen and experienced, as well as grasp how God is the “Artist” of the big picture.

While most of you are aware of our extensive missions program that has changed the lives of hundreds of our high school students, another of our unique opportunities that is offered is our annual summer Europe trip. Through the years, 474 students, parents, grandparents, family members, and teachers have traveled to 20 different countries throughout Europe. Our mission trips have sent 2143 students, parents, and teachers to 22 different countries. So over the past 13 years, Indian Rocks Christian School has sent 2,617 travelers to 42 countries. Not too bad for a small school in Largo.

The summer Europe trip is not a mission trip. It is purely a recreational and/or educational trip for students and their families. In fact, students that have completed 8th grade can earn ½ credit in European History by going on the trip and completing a project such as an academic travel journal, a power point presentation, a scrapbook, a travel brochure, or writing a paper about the experience. By doing this twice in high school a student would meet the Social Studies graduation requirement after their junior year. Students must be at least 15 years old to travel alone with the group, those younger are welcome to travel if accompanied by an adult. Many families have used this as their summer vacation.

Next summer’s trip (2015) explores the beauty and culture of Italy. The trip begins in Rome hitting all of the classic tourist spots. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum that houses the Sistine Chapel are just the beginning. A special spot for me in Rome is the Mammertime Prison where Paul wrote his last book of the Bible, Second Timothy. Florence is another significant stop on the trip. The famous statue of Michelangelo’s David resides here. An optional excursion to the Leaning Tower of Pisa is available as well. The days are so full of sights and adventures that sometimes you have to look at your pictures to remember all that you have done. And I might just add here that the food in Italy is some of the best we have had in Europe.

You can find a more detailed itinerary on the school’s website, www.ircs.org under the Campus Life drop down. The flyer has instructions for how to enroll online. We travel with a Christian company called Global Travel Alliance. We use them for our Washington DC trip as well as our St. Augustine trip. We have used our friends there as our tour guides since 2002. Anyone that has traveled with them knows and loves them. Many former travelers stay in touch via Facebook. A portion of the literature says sign up by July 1 but the trip is actually open for registration until September 15. If you have any questions about any part of the trip, please feel free to contact me. It is a great opportunity that will produce life-long memories.

If you have traveled with one of our trips before, please post an account of your experience.