Intrepid steps up to the educational challenge!
When I joined the Intrepid Museum as a volunteer, I expected to meet a lot of visitors with a service connection. And it is an honor to welcome home Intrepid crew members, meet veterans with other experiences, and thank the men and women on active duty today.
My biggest surprise has been discovering the quantity and quality of Intrepid educational programs. It is a secret too well kept from the public.
These programs are diverse, but they all emphasize STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This curriculum, so vital to our children, is often an easy victim to budget crunch. Intrepid is stepping up to the challenge as others turn away.
The Intrepid educational staff is distinct from the tour guides and volunteers that visitors meet. Most are professional teachers. They are amazing. When they explain to children how airplanes fly and why ships do not sink, I take notes.
Intrepid partners with teachers, scout leaders, and organizations on multi-session programs. Other events bring together children from communities of limited opportunity. Without Intrepid, they might never meet and share experiences with people outside their world. The Access Initiative reaches students with disabilities. There is Camp Intrepid, and G.O.A.L.S. (Greater Opportunities for Advancing Leadership and Science). The list goes on.
CASA (Cultural After School Adventures) is an arts enrichment program sponsored by the New York City Council. Over an eight-week period, Intrepid educators visit the classroom and students visit the ship. Their goal is to create a “ship’s newspaper”, with each student writing an article about what they have learned. As a former Navy Journalist, I talk about our ship newspaper and life at sea. My biggest learned lesson: keep my talk short, because the students have a treasure of questions that speak to their imagination and curiosity.
Every spring, Intrepid works with Community Mayors, an organization of civic leaders, to host several hundred children with disabilities. Intrepid staff helps the children learn to steer the ship, climb into a sailor’s bunk, and feel the sway of a lifeboat adrift at sea. We “chow down” on the Mess Deck. Their words may be hesistant, but the smiles say it all.
A museum teaches the past so that we might build a better future. The Intrepid is helping prepare young visitors for that journey. It makes me proud to be on board.
My father, J.J. Elefant, was an original crew member of the USS Intrepid - a "plank owner". He came aboard a week prior to her commissioning on August 16, 1943 and remained with the ship for the remainder of WWII. Dad kept a detaiIed daily journal during those two years, which he shared with me when I grew up. I donated Dad's journal to the Intrepid Museum for three main reasons: 1) because I believe the museum has a sincere interest in its contents, 2) they have a unique capacity to put the information it contains to good use, and 3) because, over time, I believe the museum will give Dad's diary a good home.
This is my personal connection to the Intrepid Museum. Through my father I have always had a keen interest in the Intrepid, the Pacific war, and all things related to aircraft carriers, ships and planes. Ironically, while he chronicled events, he rarely talked about his life aboard the ship unless pressed. My dad was a loving father but wasn't a particularly talkative man; particularly when it came to talking about the war. For him, it wasn't that important to talk, but it was important to remember. Because I felt so proud of his service, I wanted to hear more. Dad's reply was that he didn't think anyone would be interested in hearing the tales. He figured war stories were a dime-a-dozen and he didn't want to be a bore.
Dad was wrong. People do want to hear and learn. There is a huge interest in aircraft carriers, naval aviation, the ships and the planes. And of course, the people who served and sacrificed. When it comes to aircraft carriers, Intrepid is the only game in town!
Stepping aboard Intrepid is like entering a time portal. The ship has a presence. She beckons. Let your imagination flow and it's 1944. A dark February night. A little too quiet. Suddenly, the ship shudders as a Japanese torpedo slams into her stern. Klaxons blare as the crew run to their battle stations....
Standing high up on the Captain's bridge, you look out on an international array of aircraft displayed on the flight deck. I can watch as jet engines scream and catapults launch. Gazing aft, one can almost see returning planes, low on fuel, lined up to land, tail hooks anxious to catch an arresting cable. Look again and it's 1962 as Intrepid helicopters lift off to recover NASA astronauts.
Intrepid is a living piece of history - a meticulously preserved Essex class aircraft carrier. Unlike brick and mortar museums that merely display artifacts, the ship itself is the main artifact. And parked across the same pier is a real, cold war era, missile firing submarine. The airplanes are all real too. I can tell you that the staff of guides, restorationists and volunteers are passionate in their desire to share Intrepid's story. The museum also features science and the exploration of space. When you visit, don't be surprised to find yourself meeting former crew members and aviators who truly enjoy telling their stories and describing their experiences. Though not myself a veteran, I am now an Intrepid volunteer as well.
And as for Dad's diary, I think he would be pleased to know that the museum begins each day with a memo to staff, which draws from his journal, entitled "This Day On Intrepid".
Review from CharityNavigator
My name is Paul A. Ramirez and I am a New York City Public Middle School Social Studies teacher. In 2008, I first became involved with the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum and its program to educate and enlighten my students at my school (Young Scholars Academy in the Bronx) though the C.A.S.A. program. The after school work shop administered by Intrepid has brought knowledge, awareness and enjoyment to dozens of my students over these past years. These work shops have served to supplement the basic NYS Science and History curricula and opened the horizons of the students to the basic aerodynamic principles and the proud story of our nation's contribution and sacrifice during World War II.
On one of these trips, I noticed a leaflet that described the Volunteer Program at Intrepid. As the son and nephew of WWII veterans and the little brother of two Vietnam veterans, I became drawn to the idea that I could offer my passion for History to an audience extending well outside of my small classroom. Since becoming an Intrepid Volunteer, I have shared the rich Intrepid story with visitors and patrons from across America and around the world. Intrepid has helped to expand my classroom to a breadth that would have been inaccessible otherwise. To see the electric wonder in the eyes and on the faces of students and patrons alike after experiencing the Intrepid Museum and its programs more than justifies its continued existence.