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‘Time Travelers’ come through Suffolk

Since Suffolk isn’t anywhere near the nation’s boundaries and doesn’t have an international airport, the idea of getting a passport stamped in the city might seem odd.

However, children and travelers from all over have been presenting their “passports” at the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum on North Main Street. The Virginia Time Travelers passports encourage travel to Virginia’s historical and cultural spots.

“It’s just a fun thing to get people interested in seeing historic places,” said Marie Carmean, museum coordinator at the train station. The Seaboard station is the only location in Suffolk to get stamps in the passport books.

The books can be purchased for $5 at any of the 210 destinations. Children can receive rewards based on how many places they visit.

“For people who participate in them, it encourages total participation,” Carmean said of passport programs. The National Park Service conducts a similar program to encourage people to visit all of the country’s parks, and Carmean said it is widely successful.

In addition to learning about the various destinations, participants also can visit the website, www.timetravelers.org, for more information on the destinations as well as reading lists and games related to Virginia history.

Other locations in the Hampton Roads area include Bacon’s Castle, Chippokes Plantation, the Chrysler Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Lightship Portsmouth and more.

The Time Travelers program began in 1996, and originally was designed as a way to encourage families to visit museums during the summer months. It has grown to become a 10-month program, with annual themes, a website and numerous teachers throughout the state who use the program to plan lessons and field trips.

This year’s theme is “Minds Wide Open,” which focuses on creativity and diversity in Virginia’s museums. It coordinates with a statewide exhibit celebrating women in the arts.

“I like that,” Carmean said of the theme. “It encourages them to think differently about trains. Things have changed a lot since this train station was built.”

For more information on the program, visit www.timetravelers.org or call the train station at 923-4750.