The Traveling Teddy Bear Program is a collaboration between members of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and elementary schools across North America. Since 1994, SATW’s professional travel journalists, photographers, and publicists have taken Traveling Teddies with them as they cover the globe, sending postcards, souvenirs, and travel journals home to the young students.
During the school year, SATW members coordinate with elementary school teachers to sponsor one or more Traveling Teddy Bears for a selected class. The students name their bear, who then begins globetrotting with SATW members and their friends and families. The bears have been around the world many times, sending postcards and emails with photos of their exploits to the classes. Teachers reference the correspondence against a world map to spark discussion and research into geography and international cultures. Students in grades 1-5 seem to benefit the most from the program.
The bears keep journals of their adventures to share with the class. SATW members and their friends keep the Traveling Teddy Bears on the road during the school year, passing them from one traveler to the next. The destination can be exotic or nearby – wherever they travel, Traveling Teddies are great icebreakers. At a springtime reunion, planned by the school, students meet their bear, who is laden with globetrotting mementos and a journal full of memories to share.
Our “more adventurous” bears include Zydeco, sponsored by a classroom in Louisiana; Wild Bear Hickock from South Dakota; Mo, the Missouri bear; Cherry, a bear with a disability; and a current favorite, Johnny X, who recently completed a dive in Fiji!
Classrooms have received all kinds of souvenirs from the Teddies, including dried Michigan cherries, Petoskey stones, olives from Andalucía, Spain, and kumquats from Greece.