Saturday, May 10, 2008

How to Take 60 70th Graders Camping and Live to Tell About it Part IV

Sunday, our last day, was another picture perfect day.

After a hearty breakfast - which was, judging from the conversations we overheard - a true highlight of the trip, we gave the kids a choice. They could stay back by the camp and play kickball on the kickball field, or go with the rest of us on a two and a half mile hike.

Now, truth be told, I figured most of these kids would stay behind and do kickball. Two and a half miles sounds real far to a typical 7th grader, and we're talking about the videogame generation. After spending all year looking out at classrooms of pudgy kids with well-developed thumbs, I'm convinced that walking, let alone hiking, is completely foreign to most of them. Hell, dirt is foreign to most of them. So, to say I was surprised when over half of them showed up with water bottles and tennis shoes and sunglasses and hats and tick spray and sunblock...was an understatement.

Mrs. Eagle and I looked at each other. "I didn't think we'd get this many," she said. I agreed.

One of the rangers had given us each a hiking map and outlined a nice hike for us. He did warn us that, due to the weather, they hadn't had time to check and clear the trail and we may encounter things like mud, fallen trees, and the like. We decided to go for it.

After a vigorous session of bug spraying, checking of water bottles, and a quick count of kids, we headed off. We figured it would take us a little over an hour to get the whole bunch around the trail.

We were wrong.

It barely took an hour. These kids, for the most part, didn't hike the trail. They practically ran the trail. We had to actually force them to stop once in a while to hydrate and to get the various groups of them all collected together as they had all stretched out into one long line.

We did encounter a few rough spots. A big tree was down right where two trails forked off of the main trail and it took a little looking to find the white painted spot on the tree that was marking our trail. We also found some slippery and muddy spots, as well as a few really steep and slick hills. However, for the most part it wasn't any hardy than walking through a city park except it was a lot more wooded.

What was refreshing to see were the kids that chose to go on the hike. We had the majority of the girls, including several who I doubt had ever played in dirt before. We also had a lot of the rather pudgy bookish boys who weren't exactly the first kids you'd pick to be on your team for an active game of basketball. (They would be great, however, on a chess team.) They kids did great on what, according to many of them, was their very first hike - ever.

After lunch, a clean up of the cabins, packing, and the arrival of the buses, we loaded everyone up and headed home. As predicted, the ride home was a lot quieter than the ride out. The kids, and most of the adults, were beat. Many of us were coming down with colds. Several had some pretty raw sunburns.

But we had an awesome time.


Mrs. T said...

Love it, love it, love it. I've for years been singing the praises of my own middle and high schools- they had a great Outdoor Ed. program back in teh 70's and 80's. Kids need it now more than ever. They are thirsty for it, the kids are.

EHT said...

I read every installment and enjoyed your trip very much through your eyes. My hat is off to you and all of your colleagues. I think it is "most excellent" that a few of the 8th grade teachers went. What a great way to get to know some of your students for the coming year. This has to have a postive impact for the kids in the coming year.

This is teaching at its very best!

Princess Lionhead said...

Wow, what an adventure!! Sure wish you had thought of the camping thing when I was still there!

Darren said...

You seem to get to leave your classroom a lot.

To paraphrase a line from the Star Trek episode called Spock's Brain:

"Field trip, field trip, what is field trip?!"