First, this gem, from the music group, Cinderella, one of the top three most underrated bands of the 1980s (by my count). One of my favorite groups from this era, bluesy but metal at the same time. And, with the big damn hair! 🙂

 

I’ve had many things roll through my head about what to write about over the last couple of weeks. We had adults behaving badly, jumping on social media claiming another child cut their daughter’s hair. This had all the social media warriors ready to do battle with misspelled words and explanation points, until we found out it wasn’t true. Then, the posts disappeared.

#getthefactsfolks

I could write about the fact enough people from around here read this crazy little experiment, that I have to be more cautious with my words. I never, not in a million years, thought that would happen. People have come up to me at school, “Yeah, you blog really made sense to me! Thanks for writing it!”

#ummmmmmwhat

But I choose “The Sixth Grade Campout”, one of the reasons for the above song. I love that refrain:

The more things change

The more they stay the same

Everyones your brother till you turn the other way

The more things change

The more they stay the same

All we needs a miracle to take us all away from the pain

I went into this year’s campout just not feeling the love. It was a really quick turn around, from our first day of school to the actual campout we had seven school days with the kids. It’s hardly time to develop relationships with them or the parents. We had kids saying, “I don’t want to go” (actually had a parent keep her student home for those two days). Plus, I’ve struggled mightily this year with names. I’m not “in charge” (though we all do our fair share), but it just weighed on me. A lot.

Then, I started thinking about the traditions that have been built with this. The stories that have been passed down, year after year. The work we did as our own school district when I first got here. It had been around for 10 years, and when I interviewed for the job, no one said a word. First day of school: “Oh by the way, we’ll be going camping with the sixth graders! It will be fun!”

#what

And you know what, it was. We had a blast! Since there, there’ve been tornados and hornets and inappropriate questions and talks by the campfire and so many other things. It was fun, and it was what was best for kids. Then, as a shared district, we continued this good work, trying to make sure that these traditions were preserved and expanded on. We don’t go the same places, eat same food, and I’m part of a completely different sixth grade team! We do a lot of the same activities and the student stories are amazing! I told my students as they were questioning why we do this that this is something that is unique, a special thing that no one can ever take away from them. This year, we have the story of “the snoring girl” to the kids calling owls in the middle of the night to the coffee to the s’mores, plus the stories we teachers will never hear about! There’s so much good that happens during this time.

Then, I think about what Joe Sanfelippo (@Joe_Sanfelippo) keeps hammering on: if we aren’t telling and showing the great things that go on in our school, someone else will. The narrative will be hijacked, and we’ll be out something special. This is one of those awesome things our school does that is so good for kids. It pushes them to do better, to be better, and I saw that with this group. 99.9% of our students were engaged in the activities in front of them. Were they squirrelly? Of course. Was down time an issue? Not as much as you might think! 

As we control the narrative and push forward this year, students will remember the campout as a really good two days of their six grade career. The campouts have blurred together for me (I’m old), but I remember the joy in their faces as they finish the GPS assignment, the awe of finding a new bone in their owl pellet, and rush of finding their friends to eat supper.

Those glimpses of “what if” will keep me pushing to make sure we keep camping! 🙂