Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Raindrops adorned the canopy of the forest as the gold chariots arrived, carrying the largest group of students who have visited Islandwood yet. Grads busily unpacked busses and U-Haul’s carrying the belongings of the students from their Seattle homes across the Puget Sound on our quaint island ferry. This week the bags arrived unlabeled creating quite the predicament for the students and grads as we had no idea what bags should go to the various lodges on campus. Not to fear, the problem was solved rather effortlessly and we only lost a few minutes of field time.

We were fortunate on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the heavy rain briefly let up and a gentle mist set in. Although the rain wasn’t falling, the torrential downpour in the day’s prior left “ponds” on the Islandwood trails. I acted as the instructor of team wave and had 10 wonderful students from Schmitz Park Elementary, a school that backs up to the only old growth forest in Seattle. I discovered what wonderful “outdoor troopers” I had as we walked along the trails singing songs, playing games and jumping in upcoming puddles as the rain fell from the sky in buckets. As we trotted up the forest loop in a “kid sandwich”, (adults are the bread and students are the sandwich fillings) I watched as a student anticipated a puddle to be much more shallow than it turned out to be. Luckily, tears were kept at bay as I wrung out her tennis shoes and pant legs. She was gifted with the socks off my very own feet, (and was very happy about it as they were pink and purple) and we continued on our adventure.

We arrived at an opening in the forest and the directions began as the rain continued to fall. I described ways for students to “meet their tree” blindfolded through sensory moves. “Hug your tree, feel the base of your tree and as high up the trunk as you can reach. Walk around your tree, is there any shrubbery?” The students were overjoyed at the thought of blindfolding a partner and leading them around and were very diligent at being careful and following the directions in order to keep each other safe. Each and every student, after being led to a tree blindfolded, given time to get to know their tree and led away in a round about way, found their tree without fail once the blindfold was removed. Giggles and laughter rang through the forest and I knew they were truly living in the moment!

The following morning, as we carefully handled the baskets so generously donated to us by the “grandmother” of Islandwood, Vi, we discussed the history of the place we were exploring. We relished in the heritage, the culture and the hardships of the NW Native American tribes. As we were leaving a student added, “My father’s bad day begins when he runs into a spider web”. I very delicately pointed out to him to, “Think about how the spider felt”!

Do you have any great kid quotes? Please share them with the grads at Islandwood below… we love to share the joy of education and the humor children bring!

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