For the past two days, I have had the awesome opportunity to go on a special field trip with the fourth graders from one of my schools. Every year they go on an overnight trip to the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center.
The trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students, especially those who have never attended any kind of sleepaway camp. The center focuses its lessons on studying our ecosystem, learning how to live sustainably and reducing our impact on the environment. It's one of the highlights of the fourth grade curriculum!
So where did I fit in as the music teacher? Typically, my colleague (the other general music teacher at the school) goes along and sings campfire songs with the group in the evening. The kids all roast marshmallows and make s'mores by the fire and he usually plays his guitar along with them. This year, he opted not to stay overnight since he has a toddler and infant at home... certainly a good reason! So I stepped in and brought my uke to accompany the kids.
In addition to being there as the "talent," I was an instructor during the day. There were eight different stations around the camp, with activities like canoeing, field games, seining, and sustainable farming/cooking.
My station was called "Dragons in the Stream." (For some reason, that name reminded me of the phrase "Riders on the Storm" and I've consequently had this song stuck in my head for the past 48 hours.)
SO ANYWAY, at the "Dragons in the Stream" station, we took the kids on a 1.5 mile hike through the woods and marsh to learn about dragonflies.
We brought them to a creek where we taught them about dragonflies and their importance to the ecosystem. I showed the students how to test the water quality, and then another instructor led them in a hands-on search for insect larvae. (Gross but fun. The kids loved this part, of course.)
I think I got about 20 mosquito bites in the two days that I was there. I also somehow got a sunburn, even though my station was in the woods with heavy tree coverage. As my husband says, I am definitely an indoor girl! But it was all worth it to get to go on this trip. Not only did I get to interact with the kids in a whole new environment outside of the music room, but I also got to spend some time getting to know some of my teacher colleagues and chaperones.
The teachers stayed in one cabin and the students were in others with parent chaperones. This was my first time going on an overnight field trip so I got to see all of the responsibilities that teachers have after the rest of the kids have already gone to bed. The fourth grade teacher who organized the trip, Lisa, did an amazing job of responding to everyone's calls for assistance... from treating a student's spider bites to checking in on the noisy cabins where kids hadn't settled down. Kudos to her for making the whole trip run so smoothly!
I had such a great time at Arlington Echo. I learned a lot about the environment and I also learned a lot about what it takes to get 100 kids safely through the woods on an overnight trip!