Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How to Take 60 7th Graders Camping and Live to Tell About It - Part 1

This past weekend was The Great 7th Grade Camping Trip.

This one of the reasons why I haven't posted much. I'm trying to recover. And considering that I managed to catch a rotten spring cold along the way, that's another reason I haven't posted. I'm tired, I have a head full of snot, and my voice is gone. All I want to do is sleep.

Anyway. Enough of my whining.

The Great 7th Grade Camping Trip began last year, and was the brainchild of a few of us who thought it would be a great experience for some of our kids. We teach in a low-income building with a lot kids who have some pretty miserable stories. Many of them have never been away from home, never been in the woods, never sat around a campfire. Mrs. Eagle and I, in particular, have been reading a book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv, and we've come to believe that this generation of kids we're teaching needs to get off their butts and get outside a lot more.

Now this camp isn't exactly rustic. It has dorms, and showers, and flush toilets, and an activity building, and a darn good cafeteria-style eating commons. However, it does sit in the woods, on a lake, and there's hiking trails and birds and deer and it has spotty cell phone service. The spotty cell phone service is what freaked these kids out the most.

Last year it was only our team that went. However, with Mrs. Bunny getting moved over to another team to become team leader, and with Mrs. Eagle as team leader for the other 7th grade team, we decided to open it up to the entire 7th grade. The idea was that each team would select a group of kids and we'd go as a grade level. We ended up with a total of 61 kids which is nearly twice what we had last year.

Like last year we had the kids write an essay about why they wanted to go and why they, better yet, deserved to go. We actually had quite a few kids write about why they didn't want to go. Little League commitments, money issues at home, the inability to live without video games for an entire weekend, and just kids who freaked out at the idea of getting dirty were some of the reasons why some of our kids opted out. However, for the ones who wanted to go, the reasons were pretty, well, sad. Quite a few of our kids come from broken homes and wrote about how tough things were now that Dad and Mom had split up and how they'd like a weekend away from all that. A few wrote about how much they missed their deployed parent and would like to get away for a while. Some wanted to go because they'd never had a s'more. A few wanted to get away from babysitting their siblings for just one weekend.

We knew that money would be an issue and wanted to make it as inexpensive as possible. The seventh grade hosted a dance to raise money and managed to get the cost down to about $70 per kid. The student council paid "scholarships" for a couple, a few teachers sponsored a few other kids, the chess club paid for another, and the Jr. Civitan club sponsored another.

Permission slips were signed and notarized. Fees were paid. Bug spray purchased. Bags packed. Lunches ordered for Friday. The buses and the bus drivers were lined up. Everything was in order.

And then the weather reported severe thunderstorms with the possibility of damaging winds, and yes, tornadoes...

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Mrs. T said...

Oooooh, I hope you feel well enough to write soon! I love these installments!