Note: The bloggess is out supporting the Marching Band at a Band Competition. The guest blogger is her husband tonight.
I had the honor to chaperone Grace's 5th Grade trip to Wesley Woods. Some might call this a chore; I call it an investment in my daughter. I took the same trip 3 years ago with Sarah.
I am a big proponent of Outdoor Education for several reasons:
-Where else can you talk about ecosystem, learn about invasive bugs that are killing the Hemlocks in the Smokies, and catch a Crawfish during stream ecology?
-Where else can you learn to work as a team to solve problems on a challenge course?
-Where else can you teach kids its okay to spend the night in the woods and eat camp food and be away from home?
I was able to see Grace experience Camp, challenge herself, and learn about nature. I was able to see positive relationships she has built with her peers and her teachers. Grace does extremely well in these situations. Since she has been to camp for several years, she appeared as the expert about all things Welsey Woods. She could help friends understand the dining hall processes and the whereabouts of all things at camp. I am a proud father of Grace. She is growing into a wonderful young lady right before my eyes. This trip will be a snapshot of great times with my daughter.
One of my favorite activities at camp this year was hiking the Blueberry Trail at camp with Bob. Bob looked familiar from dropping our children off at camp during the summer when its focus is a church camp. Rev. Bob Hayes serves as a Minister-In-Residence during camp over the last 25 years. He immediately began telling stories and bonding with the 10 year olds. My initial goal was to "survive the hike" with my newly reconstructed back; I didn't care if I got anything else out of it... I just wanted the afternoon hike done! We started out the hike, Bob stopped and told stories, taught ecology, and instructed how to traverse difficult part of the hike as we walked up a stream bed. I was the caboose. My goal was keep the children between the Bob and I. At 80 years old, Bob could hiked the trails like a 25 year old. He plowed up the stream and switchbacks. I was so glad the 5th graders were huffing and puffing in front of me... I was not the slowest guy on the trail and my back was holding up. I climbed up and over rocks, downed trees, and through the muck of the stream.
Towards the end of the hike, while the children were resting on a log, Bob told a story of a refugee, An (aka Andy), that he and his wife sponsored from Vietnam 35 years ago. Andy came to America without knowing any English when he was in the 10th grade. Andy lived with Bob and his wife for 5 years. Bob talked about taking Andy hiking in the woods and leaves were falling off the trees. Andy became very concerned about the trees dying. In Vietnam, Andy stated that when trees lose their leaves, then they are dead. There are no deciduous in Vietnam. Bob also mentioned that Andy had never seen ice on a frozen stream. It was a wonderful moment of learning about ecology and recounting of Andy's experience in the woods as a way of teaching about ecology. One of the students, Max, asked the "Paul Harvey" question: "What's the rest of the story?" Andy graduated college, moved to Chicago, married and has 3 children. He teaches Art Education. Bob paused. His eyes got tears in them. He proceeded slowly and explained that about 3 weeks ago Andy was hanging up art work at school and fell off the ladder that he was on. Andy has been in ICU with an unknown fate ever sense. Max had that awkward moment of "Why did I ask that question?" Bob, in his pastoral wisdom, comforted Max briefly. Bob was off down the trail. I went from "survive the hike" dread mode to wishing we could hike with Bob for a few more hours to hear more about ecology and his life stories.
Tonight, I ask for prayers for Andy. I am thankful to God for placing Bob into my path this week.
Additionally, I was very nervous about going to Wesley Woods this week. I had concerns over whether my back would tolerate the physical activity or fail during this endeavor. I am so pleased that I went to camp with Grace and my back held up as well as it did. Yes, I am tired... but it is a good kind of tired!
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