Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Perfect Beach Day

Unless, of course, you're the poor kid who got sick on the bus. If you weren't, then you got to experience an absolutely beautiful, picture-perfect day on the California coast! It was even warm enough to walk around in short sleeves.

And the wildlife that we got to see was amazing. Unfortunately, I missed the whale that most of the groups got to see, nor was I fortunate enough to see the coyote that Mr. Caban saw. But I did see this:

That, my friends, is a Great Blue Heron! I kept trying to get a shot of him with the blue crest showing on the top of his head, but he seemed suspicious of me for some strange reason. There were many other strange creatures there today...but I brought them with me on the bus.

Besides the delicious pizza lunch at the beach, I think today's favorite activity was jumping in the ice plant. It's bouncy! And it's an invasive species, so the naturalists let them have some fun with it.

I spent some time on my own today, just enjoying the sun and the sounds of the beach, from the waves to the foghorn to the colony of seals out on the Rookery (in the center of the picture on the right). They sure do make a lot of noise. A joyful noise.

Tonight we will begin finishing up our Camp Caritas experience. As I'm writing this, the kids are in their cabins packing their bags and, hopefully, cleaning up the cabin. I wish you all the best of luck with laundry this weekend. Might I suggest that you hold your nose while pulling items out of your kids' bags.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tuesday at Camp

For a day that started with a beautiful sunrise, Tuesday sure ended with a bang. For so many reasons! Lots of sick kids around camp this week, mostly from another school, but I had a couple of issues to deal with last night (don't worry, if you didn't get an email from me it wasn't your kid).

After their day-long hike yesterday, they had a little bit of freetime and then it was time for electives. There are usually three or four different electives, gaga ball being the most popular. Usually. This year they offered pumpkin carving as an option and about half the kids decided to participate. That's why, when you see my pictures of yesterday's gaga ball game, the ring isn't packed. I'm sure it will be today.

The gaga ball pit looked much more like a swamp...or a very muddy lake this year thanks to all the recent rain they've had up here. Now, I want you to take a moment and imagine yourself standing in about six inches of mud water, and continue imagining yourself play ring-around-the-rosy in that muddy water. And let's not forget how ring-around-the-rosy ends: We all fall down.

Into the six inches of mud water.

And now, you probably don't need (or want) to use your imagination and think about where all that muddy water is getting.

After a little bit of mud wrestling, it's time for everybody's favorite activity: Hug the teacher. In her fairly clean clothes. I just put my camera up and they'll stop running at me and pose.

That's one point to the teacher.

Not everyone has that advantage, however, and children start chasing children around saying, "Give me a hug!" It's only funny if you're a bystander.

Until you get sprayed with mud as someone goes running by you.


As we were walking back to one of the bathrooms where the kids would be hosed down, I heard one of the kids ask about the blow-up barricades that were set up on Coyote Field. I explained that it was for that night's activity, the best game ever! (which I can't tell you about) Christian argued that there couldn't possibly be a game that was better than gaga ball.

Just. You. Wait.

After a yummy turkey dinner (I do love mashed potatoes and gravy!), it was time for one of the most powerful experiences of our week at camp. It's top secret...can't tell you about it, sorry. But my kiddos were amazing!

Actually, that's been a common theme during our week. I've had so many compliments about our students from both site directors, the teacher naturalists and cabin leaders, even the other teachers here. That's always great to hear!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Halloween Bus Ride...Sure, No Problem

Greetings from the Day House, aka the teachers' cabin. The kids are out on their first big hike of the week and I am enjoying a few moments of relative peace and quiet. I say "relative" because I'm sharing the cabin with the four teachers from St. Isidore. They are NOT a quiet, but loud. Fortunately, I know them really well as I used to work at St. Isidore, and we've all been having a bit of fun.

While the kids are out hiking, I generally stay in my cabin to try and get some work done. So...about that bus ride. We knew before stepping foot on the bus that it would be a different experience than any of us were expecting, what with having another school on the bus with us. It felt really awkward, but it didn't take long until my kids were singing and laughing. Jazzy having her ukelele on the bus definitely encouraged lots of singing.

LOTS of singing.

The songs varied from "Little Einstein" and "Let It Go" to some of the classics like "We Will Rock You" to, heaven help me, "Jingle Bells." Let me say that again...

Jingle Bells.


It was about that time that I heard a fairly quiet, "1..2..3.." That's never followed by something good. In years past it's been followed by the dreaded, "...Are we there yet?" Not this year. This year it was followed by a wonderful round of "Happy Birthday to Nicole!"

There were several different versions of the "Repeat After Me" song, most of which I didn't really catch. One had something to do with Tarzan and then, of course, there was Bazooka Bubble Gum. I didn't turn around during most of them because I assumed I knew the loud, screaming voice that was leading the cheers.

I was wrong.

Oh, Sutton. There goes my image of you as a quiet, peaceful child.

And there goes Emma putting on her ear muffs trying to quell some of the noise. "I don't think that's going to work, Emma."

Emma: ~sigh~ It doesn't.

After one particularly rousing repeat after me cheer, I heard Christian call out, "Sorry, Mr. Joe!" I'm sure Joe, our bus driver, appreciated it, Christian.

You know how there are some phrases that just don't seem to be in a language you're acquainted with, mostly because it's just that confusing? I had to have Aidan repeat his question to me several times before my brain processed that, yes, he is indeed asking you a question about "impossible graffiti."

"Miss McMillan, this is the bridge with the impossible graffiti!"

The next time you're driving over the Benicia Bridge, take a look to your left and you'll see what he's talking about. Unless you're the driver...If you're the driver, then eyes front!

And yes...this all happened before we reached the Benicia Bridge. This may have also been the time I reached for the Excedrin.

Around 10:00 I received a text from Mrs. Wilson saying, "R U there yet?" Ok, seriously? First of all, we've only been gone about 45 minutes. Secondly, text lingo? Really?!

Right after that began the Hamilton portion of our trip. Somehow this led to a conversation about death, which I realized only after someone shouted, "Why are we even talking about death?!"


The answer followed fairly quickly, " ' know...the guy's dead."

I assumed they were talking about Alexander Hamilton. Or maybe it was one of the skunks we passed by in the middle of the road.

You know what you don't want to hear on a bus ride? Besides "I don't feel so good"? You don't want to hear the question, "Miss McMillan, is this dangerous? I don't want to explode."

Mostly, this year was about singing on the bus (although not one verse from the dreaded "The Wheels on the Bus" rang out, thankfully). But not one instance of "Are we there yet?" which totally surprised me. Okay, okay...Mrs. Wilson did ask and I may have thought the question a time or two myself, but no one actually verbalized it. Shocking!