Monday, April 23, 2007

Of Algae, S'mores, Sunburns, and Screaming 7th Graders Part I

Our goal, when we came up with this wild idea of a "wilderness weekend", was to provide our students, many of them from broken and/or low income homes, with opportunities to do things they've never had the chance to do before. It was a lot of work putting it together, and Mrs. Language, bless her heart, did the bulk of it and did a fantastic job with it. We had the full support of The Principal because she believes that anything we do that is child-centered, that will help our kids, is a good thing.

Still, many people, including us, thought we might be just a little bit crazy.

And at 10:30 on Friday morning, in a bus full of screaming 7th graders, we thought they just may be right.

We weren't due to check in to the camp until around 3:00 pm, so we had time to do a tour of an 1850's homestead nearby. We broke the kids into two groups and toured the farm, which was a fairly new experience for many of them. Big revelation for them was that there wasn't any indoor plumbing, and hence no bathroom. The lesson that at 13, most of them would already know how to run their own household or farm was a big eye-opener for them as well. Many of them thought that the oxen were pretty impressive because they were so big and the sheep were also high on the popularity list.

We had brought along sack lunches which we ate there in a picnic area along side a little creek.
Lunch was gobbled down and pretty soon half the kids were wading through the creek while the other half had put together a football game using an apple as a ball. I've spent most of the year looking at these kids in a classroom so it was a real change to see them outside playing. First thing that occurred to me was how much energy these kids had to burn. It was almost exhausting just watching them yell and run and scream and jump.

We made it to camp on time, checked in at the desk, got the keys to the dorms and prepared to move everyone in. The kids were waiting, bags and sleeping bags on the ground, bouncing around, eager to get going. We gave the all clear to move into the dorms and the stampede down the hill to the dorms was a sight to see. I found out later that they were running to be the first to get a top bunk. It probably took them sixty seconds to get everything moved in. Bags flew, sleeping bags unrolled, kids screamed and giggled and laughed!

Funny, but at my age, I would have been running to get a bottom bunk!

It's late now, and I'm still not recovered, so I'll sign off. More to come!

1 comment:

HappyChyck said...

It does almost warm your heart to see them playing like kids--in the appropriate environment--without a care in the world!