One of San Diego’s most popular educational programs is being able to spend the night on the USS Midway Museum. Youth groups from around Southern California rejoice in the chance to sleep in the same bunks where former Midway sailors slept more than 30 years ago.
One of the groups that returns year after year are students involved in the School Safety Program (SSP) developed nearly 90 years ago by the San Diego Police Department. The SSP assists elementary school students cross uncontrolled road intersections on their way to and from school. Under the guidance of mentors from the police department, the students also develop leadership skills that are important as the grow into young adults.
Recently, more than 125 SSP students along with 34 police-officer chaperones descended upon Midway for a sleepover and fun activities that centered on teamwork and leadership.
“I enjoyed the survival lesson on the lifeboat, putting on the colored vest that the flight-deck crew wore and visiting the engine room to see how the ship ran,” said Katherine Ward, a 5th grade student at Vista Grand Elementary School. “I learned that it takes a lot of people working together to make things happen on a ship, and it really helps if we all get along.”
The students were formed into 10 groups and Midway’s education staff provided tours of the ship as well as guided the evening’s activities.
“The youths that attend got an opportunity to practice the skills they’ve been learning in a new environment,” said Rachel Cremering, Midway’s youth overnight coordinator. “The experience also helps develop relationships with their school resource officers and builds a network of trust with their fellow classmates.”