Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

7/7/2009 - Tuesday, Preschooler's Summer Camp

I was a little concerned that I was going to give a tour to a group of preschoolers during a thunderstorm. Luck was with us! The thunderstorms passed through before the group arrived. Only problem was that the wet decks (without deck thread) can be a little slippery. I had a premonition of a problem when I was in the wardroom. The Slater's wardroom has a secondary function, when the ship goes to General Quarters (GQ) it serves as the ship's hospital. As I explained that to the kids, one of them asked me where we kept the band aids. Since I try to have a few emergency band-aids in my pocket, I reached in an showed the kids my personal stash. About 15 minutes later, one of my kids was over-enthusiastic and disobeyed my instruction not to run and managed to slip on the deck. Luck was with me, and her dad was there to attend to the problem swiftly and with great skill (and with the help of one of my emergency band-aids).

Tuesday is a great day for giving tours to preschool groups. It's hard to mix a preschool group with another groups touring the ship. We always have to take extra time for the kids. Safety is very important! Since the Slater is not open to the public on Tuesday, the guides can focus on the needs of the kids. Another big advantage of Tuesday visits is that these groups have to be scheduled! That way the Slater can insure that the group has good footwear, and there is an adequate number of chaperones.

When giving a tour to a preschool group I've found that a few activities seem to be popular. When the kids come aboard I pipe them aboard and have them salute (just like a VIP). The USS Slater has an selection of audio samples of bosun pipe signals..

During the tour I also play a game with Naval words: port, starboard, deck, bulkhead, galley, head, etc. In a berthing compartment I turnoff the white lights, and switch to night-time red lights.

In the Combat Information Center (CIC) I have the kids request a status report form Sonar (detailed in an earlier blog entry).

At the 20mm cannons they like to listen to the cease fire alarm. I warn them to cover their ears first (some kids get startled by a loud noise).

On the 40mm cannons most preschool groups are too young and the groups are too large (ratio of group size to chaperones) to permit them to man the 40mm. Recently the Slater had a new addition, stimulated 40mm ammunition clips (in lightweight plastic). While the steel clips loaded with dummy rounds are too heavy for the kids to handle, the new lightweight plastic clips are great.

With a small group I usually let each kid ring the ships bell, but with a large group I have them vote on which chaperone will ring the bell.

Before we get to the after-crew's head (where the Slater's oscar resides) I tell them about man overboard drillls.

Some thing I need is a few more funny kid-friendly stories about the navy. One possibility might be the story of the Lighthouse and Battleship (I can tell this story at the Slater's signal light). Another addition that I would like to see is a kid-friendly video about the USS Slater that's geared to preschool groups.

The USS Slater has a web page that details a few Educational Activities.

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