Set on 2,000 acres in rural northern New York, Fort Ticonderoga is a major cultural destination, with student group offerings as plentiful as its historic footprint.
The fort, formerly called Fort Carillon, was built by the French during the French and Indian War. It held strategic importance during 18th-century conflicts between France and Great Britain. It also was a key location in the Revolutionary War.
“There are a lot of forts, but very few had this much conflict and bloodshed,” said Beth Hill, president and CEO of Fort Ticonderoga.
The Fort Ticonderoga experience has many facets. There’s the restored fort, museum exhibits, demonstrations, living history, boat cruises on Lake Champlain, interpretive spaces and gardens — and to see and do it all, a multi-day visit is encouraged.
Fort Ticonderoga is centrally located between New York and Montreal, Canada, which makes it a great gateway into New England.
“We’re not in a big city,” Hill said. “When groups come to us, they have to intentionally come to us and stay long enough to make it worthwhile. Our experience really fulfills the commitment to get here. We highlight one of our nation’s most epic stories in an inspiring way.”
Hill and her team pride themselves on curating programs for every audience. The programs outlined on Fort Ticonderoga’s website are just a sampling of what they can create for students.
The program To Act as One United Body allows students to enlist in the Continental Army and take on the daily routines of soldiers garrisoning the fort. If educators want to take the experience a step further, their students can even overnight in the barracks.
Older students can participate in the Gossip Tour of Fort Ticonderoga, which shares salacious stories and drama — drunken soldiers and unsolved crimes included.
A favorite experience for visitors of any age are weapon demonstrations, especially during a special nighttime program like Ticonderoga Guns by Night. The program includes a tour and demonstration of 18th-century firepower after dark.
“We really want students to leave with a deeper understanding of historical literacy and critical thinking, and the sacrifice of those who have gone before us,” Hill said. “We give them tools they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Each year, Fort Ticonderoga highlights a different historical theme, which helps create a focus for a big topic. For 2020, the theme is “1774,” which will be reflected in different ways throughout the site.
“This allows our visitors to have a different experience every time they visit,” Hill said.