Fridays I take my class to a local camp where they participate in outdoor activities, games, and exercises that are intended to help build team work and social skills.
I personally love these Fridays because it gets us out of the trailer (my classroom literally is a trailer detached from the main school building), we get to be in fresh air in a beautiful wooded area, and honestly, who wouldn’t want to zip-line, observing nature, and be a little more relaxed than with the normal academic curriculum. To end the week at Gretna Glenn is awesome.
…most of the time…
About a month ago, the week did not end so well. In fact, my week ended about two hours early because we were basically kicked out of the camp and bused back to campus to deal with the administrators. The kids were just bad. Disrespectful, uninvolved, lazy, and using FAR too many derogatory words for a place that focuses on positivity.
I will never make excuses for these kids but it was our first time there this school year, with a group that was unfamiliar with the program and they just ruined it. The next few Fridays we had community service days rather than giving them the privilege of leaving the grounds. They loved picking weeds and cleaning up trash, let me tell ya.
But they really have done a nice (ok, nicer) job lately at being a group and following the rules, so today we ventured back to the woods. Now the day was NOT perfect. The kids gave themselves a 6.6 out of 10 for their behavior and cooperation, but there were a few standout moments that really made me think about my own life.
Every day has a theme and today happened to be goal setting…the ultimate initiative to perform better than last month (not setting their sights too high if you ask me)!
The morning went well, but nothing close to fantastic, and I just kept thinking, “ok, only a few more hours and we are headed to the weekend.” But then after lunch something happened.
“Mrs. Weaber may we go play ga-ga?”
Gaga is this ball game kind of like dodge ball in a ring and they almost never ask to do something together, as an entire class, let alone something that actually requires physical exertion.
Of course I agreed because I was just thrilled they were getting along and participating at a camp they just one month ago called “mad lame, yo.”
And then as the lunch period wrapped up, the camp instructor asked me to bring the kids down to the rock climbing wall.
The wall is new this year, and the kids eyed it up the very second they got off the bus back in September. When the director told them what we were going to do, some faces lit up, while others looked fearful.
After instructions and a safety demonstration, most of the kids strapped on their harnesses and were eager to get moving. A few, however, paced reluctantly contemplating whether or not they were up for the challenge. They were all told this was not a race, nor was it a contest to see who could climb the highest, or the steepest portion of the rock. It was more about setting a goal for yourself, stepping out of the box and meeting a challenge.
Where in my life can I relate these topics?
I almost always participate in these activities, as well, mostly because I like them, but also to encourage the more hesitant students to join in.
One by one the kids climbed the wall and nearly every, single one of them reached the very top.
Some elected to do the easy side, others the medium and the hard, but they all participated, and while their classmates were making the attempt, the others stood below cheering and shouting words of encouragement.
WHO THE HECK WERE THESE KIDS?!?!?!
They don’t support one another.
They are the first to laugh when a fellow classmate trips, or spills their milk.
This was so out of the norm and I was so proud; especially because there were a few students who were so close to the top but called to the belay team they were ready to stop. The rest of the group yelled,
“No! You are so close! There is a peg at your left foot, just reach up and move your leg!”
Holy shmoly, was this the same class that came here a month ago? With a little love from their peers, the strugglers reached the peak, and I have to say it again, I WAS SO PROUD.
Then it was my turn, and I understood why this was so challenging. It takes immense upper-body strength to propel yourself up a straight wall. But I heard the kids cheer when I too reached the high point.
“Yeah, Mrs. Weaber, you got swagga!” (Can you tell I love the way they talk 🙂 )
I needed this today.
Obviously recovery is not the same as a rock wall. But in a sense it is…
I have to take things slowly, one step at a time, and without support I would never make it.
I haven’t been pushing myself lately and I needed a boost. Watching these kids be something I never expected; friends, allies, and an actual team, made me realize I can be successful, as they were today, too.
With a little encouragement, perhaps re-assessing my strategy, and getting a bit uncomfortable (um hello my shoulders were burning!!) I can move forward.
Health is my summit and some days I still feel like I am standing at sea level. It is time to continue the climb, because from what I have heard, the horizon is pretty awesome.