Thursday, May 08, 2008

How to Take 60 7th Graders Camping and Live to Tell About it, Part II

When you plan a field trip the one thing you hope for, and the one thing you have no control over, is good weather. Honestly, there's little worse than a bunch of wet and whiny kids (not to mention wet and whiny teachers). As luck would have it, we had three days of outdoor activities planned and the weather was definitely not cooperating.

The first raindrops fell as the buses pulled out of the parking lot. The kids screamed with joy and the adults heaved great sighs and crossed our fingers. The weather reports for Friday were not looking promising, although the rest of the weekend looked good. We all figured if we could make it through Friday, we'd be okay.

As luck would have it, the storms would race through, we'd have a window of time with no rain, and then another series of storms would go through. It was soggy, it was gray, but the kids didn't seem to care. When we got to the camp we managed to have a break in the weather long enough to get the buses unloaded and the kids moved into the dorms.

The idea this weekend was to get the kids broken down into five groups and rotate through a series of activities - canoeing, orienteering, a stream study, and some challenge courses. Friday was also to include a night hike where we would take the kids out on a hike without flashlights. It sounds crazy, but the kids love it and by the end of the hike they realize how easy it is to navigate in the dark once your eyes get used to it.

Obviously we had to toss all our plans aside as the weather wasn't going to cooperate at all. First off, it was so windy there was no way we were going to get anyone out on the lake, and the series of storms heading our way looked to be fairly large. We did manage to get them outside for some basketball and tag before supper (which they devoured - the food here is good), and then the rangers put together an activity on bats which involved a lot of moving around on the part of the kids. Bless their hearts for coming up with a tag game where some kids played trees, others were moths, and still others were blindfolded and played bats. They had to find their moths by listening (a skill most 7th graders haven't mastered yet) to the trees and moths who had to yell out "tree!" and "moth" as the bat got close. It was hilarious and it was great fun. These kids may be jaded 13 year olds, but they enjoy a good game of tag when given the opportunity.

Afterwards Mrs. Bunny and I did some consultation with the camp director who showed us the computer so we could watch the National Weather Service for warnings as these storms had already caused some damage out West. (I also had a mother send along a weather radio, complete with alarm). We were given a key to the lower dorms which were unoccupied and told that if a tornado warning did get issued to hustle everyone down there and into the bathrooms. We were crossing our fingers that most of the really bad stuff would head south of us and we'd just get some good thunderstorms out of it, but you never know in this part of the country.

Mrs. Bunny looks at me and says, "Freaking figures we'd be out here and they'd have a stupid tornado."

I agreed. That's just our luck. I could only imagine what some of the parents were thinking, let alone The Principal who was probably worried sick as well.

Fortunately, while the adults were worrying about a possible tornado, the kids were just having the time of their lives. They had worked out shower schedules, were playing charades, and cards, and just having a great time. Luckily none of them seemed to be frightened over thunder and lightning (or at least not enough to show in front of all their peers), so we didn't get any fussing about that. Around midnight we finally got everyone settled, calmed down, and quiet and we all drifted asleep to the sound of thunder rumbling across the lake and the flash of lightning.

Now if only Saturday would be clear and sunny...

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