Learning German
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It was decided early on that each boy going on the trip be required to learn a minimal amount of German. 

But how do you incentivize a teen-ager to do this?  Easy... the deal we struck was that IF the boy could pass a simple competency test, then, and only then, they would be allowed to use electronics on the bus and plane ride.  Otherwise, they'd have to resort to ancient techniques of passing the time, like reading, or looking out the window.  (oh, the horror!)

So, Herr Ivory and Herr Bauer provided classes on managing simple phrases... hello, good by, thank you, excuse me... how to count, and say where they were from. 

Herr Bauer went above and beyond, and created a small PDF primer to help the boys study.  Many of the boys found apps on their phones that would help them study.  All in all, we were quite pleased with the results.

There was a surprise in store for the boys though on testing day.  One by one, they were brought into a small room, complete with bright lights and a video recorder.  While they expected to have to hold up to a short conversation with der Luftmarshall, the instead had to face down a young lady (ein sehr hübsches Mädchen!). She was an exchange student from Germany that was staying with Herr Bauer at the time.

After the fact, one of the boys called foul.  He pointed out that he had a tough enough time talking to American girls in English.  :-)

Interestingly, none of the boys had any trouble understanding this poster, which we saw at the top of Der Zugspitze.  Many took photos of it.

(go figure)

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