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EcoKids Report #23

Camping Trip

Westin Bend State PardFriday, April 30 at 6:00 PM we met at the studio and left for Westin Bend State Park. It is located along the Missouri River, north of Kansas City.

Ellie Dawson drove up earlier in the afternoon to reserve three camp sites for us. We took two van loads of kids and gear and set up before dark.

campingThe adults put a good deal of thought into keeping the girls and boys separate for the night. Between the arrangement of tents and sleeping with one eye open we believe our planning worked.

Saturday morning we hiked several miles down to the Missouri pointing out wildlife along the way. The river had been up recently and there was a lot of mud exposed near the bank. This was the first time most of the kids had seen the river up close like this. They seemed mildly impressed. They really enjoyed being outside.

Saturday afternoon we drove to a hiking trail for a solitude experience. We walked along the trail finding places for each EcoKid to sit alone out of sight of the next kid along the path. Each was asked to remain silent until the whistle blew. Many of the kids required reassurance that they would be safe. At least one kid was unable to keep quiet. Fortunately there was enough distance between that most of the others were not disturbed. One girl wore short heels and twisted her ankle. One young man discovered stinging nettle and lived. A few of the kids enjoyed the experience and one saw a black snake.

Perhaps this exercise, more than any other, brought into focus the need for many of the kids to find some kind of inner discipline and emotional control. The lack of discipline could be observed throughout the program as the inability attend to a subject for more than a few seconds. The emotional control could be observed in the inflated dramas that led to the arguments that side tracked the program earlier.

These are all good kids. But they have so much more potential than they are aware of. Discussions with long time teachers have brought me to the conclusion that this under appreciation of potential and /or the discipline to realize it is the norm in much of public education today. I am alarmed! More in the discussion section.

We brought a large cake with us to celebrate Shekena’s birthday. We had it made with both chocolate and white to celebrate the integrated nature of our group. Shekena’s parents drove up and had foil stew and cake with us.

After the party Ellie led us on a star walk. At one point she had the kids close their eyes and listen for every sound they could hear. One EcoKid reported how the experience was neat and something he’d never done before. He seemed quite moved.

On Sunday morning Ellie got quite sick to her stomach. The kids pulled together pretty well and helped break camp after helping fix breakfast. We all got home okay and Ellie felt better the next day.

Thanks to regular volunteers Joel Kraft and Ellie Dawson. In addition, thanks to Lavern, Karlos’ Mom, Jeff, Andrews Dad and Martha, Ben’s Mom who camped and helped keep a lid on the energetic teens. Thanks also to Charles, Desmond’s Dad who came up for the day on Saturday. It was so good to have parents involved. It was intended and hoped for all along in the program but schedules are very full. I think that, over time, the parental involvement will be seen as the strongest part of the program.

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