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a visit to some noteworthy place or site, such as a cultural monument, museum, or enterprise; a form and method of acquiring knowledge.
Excursions are generally conducted in groups led by a guide. They may be classified according to purpose as scientific, cultural-educational, and educational excursions; in addition to field trips carried out as part of a vocational guidance program, educational excursions include trips to industrial facilities for learning purposes and trips for the purpose of sharing experience and knowledge with others in one’s field of work. Excursions may also be distinguished according to their subject, that is, the nature of the place or sight visited. A third way of classifying excursions is based on whether the object of the excursion is located in its natural setting or is in a museum-like environment. Finally, excursions may be distinguished according to the composition of the excursion group; for example, the members of the group may be of the same age or profession, or they may be tourists or students.
Excursions originated in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a teaching method for improving students’ independent study habits through the development of powers of observation. They were introduced into the educational process by progressive teachers in Western Europe and Russia who were opposed to scholasticism in pedagogy. In the 19th century excursions gradually became an intrinsic part of the educational process for schoolchildren. The Central Excursion Commission was established in Moscow in 1910 to provide excursion services to schoolchildren and teachers. In the same year the book School Excursions: Their Significance and Organization, edited by B. E. Raikov and G. N. Boch, was published; it dealt with the basic methodology of excursions.
Cultural-educational excursions developed alongside educational excursions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and special excursion organizations were established. The organization Excursions Through Russia was founded in 1907 as part of the Russian Society of Tourists. The magazine Ekskursionnyi vestnik was published in Moscow from 1914 to 1916, and the magazine Russkii ekskursant in Yaroslavl from 1914 to 1917.
The Soviet government’s first decrees on schools treated excursions as a necessary element in the educational process. The Central Bureau of School Excursions was established in Moscow in 1918. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s cultural-educational excursions became a component of tourism. The joint-stock company Soviet Tourist was founded in 1928 and was reorganized in 1930 as the All-Union Voluntary Society for Proletarian Tourism and Excursions. In the 1930’s excursion tour stations of the People’s Commissariat for Education were opened in several cities, including, in 1932, the Central Station in Moscow. In 1936 the Central Executive Committee of the USSR entrusted the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions (VTsSPS) and its member organizations with the development of tourism and excursions.
After the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 there was an increase in the activities of the tourist and excursion institutions and organizations of the VTsSPS in all Union and autonomous republics, krais, and oblasts. In large cities tourism councils were established that consisted of representatives of state and public organizations providing tourist and excursion services for working people. A new stage in the development of excursions was inaugurated in 1969 by the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Council of Ministers of the USSR, and the VTsSPS On Measures for the Further Development of National Tourism and Excursions. The number of excursionists increased from 35 million in 1970 to 152 million in 1977. In this period excursion organizations were opened in 600 cities; they offered a total of more than 15,500 excursions in such fields as industry, history, natural history, architecture, art, and literature.
According to an estimate made in 1977, the average annual number of guides employed by the trade unions’ system of excursion services is approximately 35,000. In 1977 there were 1,200 museums, art galleries, and exhibitions providing scientific, cultural, and educational excursion services on a large scale; they were visited by approximately 120 million people a year. The Central Lenin Museum in Moscow and its branches enjoy the greatest popularity, with more than 6 million visitors each year.
The USSR has a high index of excursion participation, that is, a high number of visits to excursion sites per capita; in 1975 there were more than 1,200 visits per 1,000 members of the population. Specialized excursion services for schoolchildren are offered by the Children’s Excursion Tour Stations of the Ministry of Education of the USSR; in 1977 there were more than 200 such stations, and about 8 million schoolchildren took part in excursions. Soviet schools make wide use of excursions in the educational process. The schools provide subject excursions, or excursions related to subjects in the curriculum; industrial excursions, which V. I. Lenin regarded as one of the ways to solve problems of general and polytechnic education; combined excursions, which combine different subjects of study; and cultural-educational excursions.
The excursion method is used in programs for the vocational guidance of youth, in systems for improving the skills of workers and exchanging experience and knowledge concerning new techniques and methods of work, and in the production of educational films and television programs.
In the developed countries, excursions have become an integral part of traveling and one of the purposes of travel, and excursion tourism has been developed as a means of learning about the world. The excursion as a recreational activity is of great social value, since it fulfills several functions at the same time: it facilitates interpersonal contact, the acquisition of knowledge, and improvement of health. The necessity of providing services for excursionists on a mass scale has led to the appearance of specialized institutions, such as excursion bureaus; specialized workers, such as guides and methodologists; and specialized means of transportation, including modifications of buses and riverboats.
REFERENCESKrupskaia, N. K. “Zadachi shkoly I stupeni: Ekskursionnyi metod pri izuchenii voprosov, namechennykh v skhemakh programm, priniatykhs” ezdom sotsvosov” Ped. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Raikov, B. E. Metodika i tekhnika ekskursii, 4th ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1930.
Metody i praktika ekskursionnogo dela: Sb. statei, [Foreword by N. A. Geinike.] Moscow, 1925.
Sholokhov, V. Organizatsiia i provedenie ekskursii. [Moscow] 1965.
Pasechnyi, P. and B. Emel’ianov. Ekskursiia. Moscow, 1972.
Voprosy ekskursionnoi raboty. Moscow, 1973.
Muzei i sovremennost’, fasc. 2. [Edited by A. Timrot.] Moscow, 1976.
Emel’ianov, B. Vpomoshch’ ekskursovodu. Moscow, 1976.
P. S. PASECHNYI and V. M. KRIVOSHEEV