Thursday, October 27, 2011

Work Day for the Teacher

Tuesdays and Thursdays at camp are usually teacher work days for me. While the kids are off on their longest hikes of the week, I stay in my cabin and try and get some work done.

No, really, I do!! The kids are gone for about five hours beginning around 9:00 a.m. and after they get back they have electives and then free time. Electives include arts and crafts, archery, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, and, of course, gaga ball! The most popular of all the electives! Why do kids love to get so muddy? Is it just because there's no one there to tell them to stop rolling in the mud? That's right, you heard me...rolling in the mud!
These were white when the game began!

I took plenty of pictures of muddy children on Tuesday. Each time they got out of the gaga ball pit, they were even muddier, so more pictures! When the kids would get out, Teacher-Naturalist Katy would make them line up and wait. A few minutes would pass before she'd make them do something like, "Sing 'I'm a Little Teapot' and I'll let you back in. But YOU MUST DO THE MOVES!" Of course, some of the kids were already doing the moves before she instructed them to do so. Creatures of habit, I guess. 

Katy had dozens of different songs to torture the kids with. And sometimes she would just make them drop and give her five push-ups. No problem! Anything to get back into the gaga ball pit! Hmmm...maybe I should have brought grammar homework for them after all!

After electives, it was most definitely time for showers! And, yes, they went willingly. The only time campers have to grab a shower is during their free time Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. So, unless you want to sleep in that mud...

After our dinner of ham and potatoes, the kids were off again to get ready for their night hike. This is a wonderful (and safe) opportunity for kids to face their fears and just do it anyway. I opted to stay in my cabin where it was warm and where I could get a little more work done. 

Day House - aka, The Teacher's Hideaway

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

Ah, mornings at camp! It's so wonderfully peaceful while everyone else is sleeping. I don't think we truly realize how much noise we're exposed to while living in cities, both small and big. From the newspaper that hits your front doorstep to neighbors leaving for work to garbage trucks and emergency vehicles, our everyday morning life is filled with sound. I found myself yesterday morning wondering if any of my students find this silence the least bit unsettling.

Of course, it doesn't last long. Eventually, the creatures wake up and start wandering around camp. The silence is broken at first by one or two lonely howls. Not long after that, I'll hear the critters walking by outside my cabin.

I suppose some people might be bothered by the sounds of animal life out here in the wild. But they're just middle schoolers...I'm used to it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And So It Begins

We have arrived at camp, sanity optional. [That last part may just apply to the teacher.] We managed to arrive before St. Catherine, but not by much. It was just enough time to give our kids a chance to decompress from the bus ride and calm themselves a bit before the other students arrived.

Before I continue, let me just offer my sincerest thanks to all the parents who helped provide my students with a lovely breakfast before leaving this morning. It was so greatly appreciated! And yummy!!

Many thanks also to everyone who helped load all of our gear onto the bus. I couldn't have done it without you! Goodness knows the kids were far too excited to do something as mundane as to make sure their toothbrushes and underwear made it onto the bus.

There were a few tears as we left school this morning, but I'll be fine, parents! Your kids are having a fabulous time already. Everyone is safe, happy, and healthy!

I know you're probably all dying to know about the bus ride. Let me just put it to you this way: if you are at all sensitive to noises, a school bus filled with 35 screaming adolescents is not the place for you! Of course, I'm not sure it's the place for me either, but such is my fate. [There'd better be a chocolate-filled room in heaven waiting for me, I tell ya!]

Before we had even left the school parking lot, the singing began. I pushed the pause button for a moment and told the kids, "I know you have an entire playlist selected for this morning, but let's try and keep the volume down a bit. We don't want to scare our bus driver! Carry on." And with that, the singing began again with renewed vigor.

Not to be outdone, our bus driver Brendan turned the radio on full blast! And with speakers throughout the bus, the kids could all hear it. So, they started singing along with the songs they heard on the radio...NOT "The Wheels on the Bus," "99 Bottles," or the dreaded "Scooby Dooby Doo."

Advantage Brendan.

Things were fairly calm for awhile...and by "calm" I mean I wasn't pulling out the earplugs yet. How Matthew could read, and Jason S. and Christopher could nap during all of that was quite beyond me. But, about thirty minutes into our trip, we passed Six Flags. That got everyone's attention!

"Oh! Miss McMillan!! Can we stop?!?"

Sure. Shall I call Camp Caritas and tell them we're not coming?

"Oh. Never mind."

We drove past a lot of beautiful countryside yesterday. Perhaps I should qualify "beautiful." I mean "beautiful" to the eyes...not necessarily the nose! I'm not sure why someone yelled out, "It smells like dog food!" I'm really not sure why someone else responded with, "It smells like Mac 'n Cheese!" Perhaps somebody's mom or dad needs to take a cooking class because I can assure you it most definitely did not smell like anything edible!

Prior to arriving at the aromatically-challenging part of our drive, Jason B. yelled out, rather excitedly, "It's a cow!!!" This, of course, led to thirty-four other students calling out, in unison, "Mooooo!!!"


We interrupt this blog post for a brief musical interlude.

I'll admit that I'm not very happy that I've reached the age in life where I don't know every song on the radio, so I had to ask for song titles a few times. But at least now I know what to add to my iTunes wish list. I did recognize a few songs...but they were from the 1980s and 1990s. Songs like:

  • Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran
  • (Still Haven't Found) What I'm Looking For by U2
  • Hurt So Good by John Cougar Mellencamp

In case you're wondering, I don't believe I was the only one singing along to those songs! I'm not sure that makes me feel any better, though. The kids probably heard them on an "oldies" station. Yikes!

Two of the songs that proved to be popular for singing along with (and dancing to) were:

  • Rolling in the Deep by Adele
  • California Girls by Katy Perry

And, yes, I had to ask for help with the titles of those two. This did not help with my coolness rating.

The windows of the bus were open for quite a long time, making the ride a bit chilly for some. When I noticed two girls were asking the boys in front of them to close their windows, I assumed it was because they were cold. Silly me! They were worried about their hair! They didn't want to look windblown when they got to camp.


I wanted to say, "Just put a hat on your head. You'll be fine!" But my coolness factor had already taken a serious enough hit for one day.

Part of the entertainment on the bus was watching Luke transform himself from mild-mannered Renaissance man to superhero rapper, complete with cape! (Ok, it was really just his sweatshirt, but he's rapped it around his neck so that it hung down his back. If it looks like a cape and quacks like a cape...)

He was rapping so long and so loud that at one point I could swear it sounded like he was losing his voice. Dude! Pace yourself! Especially if you're going to continue to make these songs up as you go...we want to be able to hear them all.

Somewhere along the line, Colby asked me, "Miss McMillan, are we worse than last year's class?" He seemed so disappointed when I responded, "Not even close!"

What was I thinking!

Shortly after that, Robert started singing "Lean on Me" by himself. Within moments, the entire bus was singing it...with gusto! When they tired of that one, somebody started singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Talk about a change of pace!

Before I sign off for today, let me ask you to think about this: How many different ways are there to ask "Are we there yet?" Because I'm sure I've heard them all!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Am I Ready For This?

I think I can safely say that my students are far more ready for Camp Caritas than I am! I've spent the last couple of weeks dealing with paperwork, paperwork, and...oh yeah...paperwork, all in the hopes of making sure my seventh graders are ready to have a wonderful time at camp. As I was getting ready for work this morning, it dawned on me: "Ummmm...what about me?!" I haven't really done anything to get myself ready to go!

Should be an interesting weekend.

I know I'll be ready to leave by Monday; it's just a question of whether or not I remember to bring all of the essentials I need: cameras, laptop, power cords...Check, check, and double-check!

I should probably pack a few other things as well.

Each year that I've taken my seventh graders to camp, I've written emails or blog posts to describe my adventures (the bus ride descriptions are usually the most popular). This year, I thought I would actually create a blog dedicated to my Camp Caritas experiences. Please feel free to subscribe to this blog or check it out whenever you have the time.

Now, what did I do with those earplugs...