About a month ago, I chaperoned Alexa’s 6th grade class field trip to Mount Hermon Science Camp. This was a new experience for me particularly since I didn’t know many of these kids. This is Alexa’s first year attending this school so learning who everybody was was interesting. Alexa had been at her previous school since preschool so I knew most of the students. I’d chaperoned many school field trips, hosted many classroom birthday parties and was involved in many school activities, but that was elementary school. Now that we’re in middle school, parents are less involved and they have 6 classes rather than just one. I’d heard names and since there are only 9 girls in the 6th grade class, I knew who they were as I’d made a point of chaperoning their mid-term PE outing and hosted a pre-dance party at a local hotel to get to know them.
Anyways…imagine me – the only female parent until the last day, sharing a cabin with 8 tweenage girls. I’m not exactly the poster girl for camping but I’m no wuss either. I can handle it for 4 days, right?…
Here’s what I learned in 4 days…
- a handful of girls are more “boy crazy” than I would like
- there was a lot of talking about boys/girls in a less than platonic fashion, although still fairly innocent (for instance, there were games of truth or dare being played during our many hikes and the dares involved kissing someone on the cheek – my girl was targeted to be kissed and boy did she exercise her running skills! )
- you can tell a lot about how much responsibility they are given at home by living with them
- there are signs of insecurity
- there are signs of needing to be “cool” (i.e. one was concerned that if they keep getting the clean cabin or quiet cabin award, they’ll be known as the “goody two shoes cabin”…really?!!!)
- the kids I thought would be more fearless were actually less so
Ultimately, it was a good experience. I was asked if I would go again and my honest answer is NO! The only reason I wanted to go was because this was my daughter’s class and she was going to be away from home for 4 days. I wanted to be a part of her experience. If not for that, I wouldn’t choose to go again. #truth
I enjoyed getting to know many of the students (mostly the ones that were part of our nature group) and they are all good kids. They’re just trying to find their way. It is 6th grade, 11-12 years olds, lots of changes in the next few years – mentally, physically and emotionally.
It was a teaching opportunity for me with Alexa to make sure she understood that she doesn’t have to follow the crowd or dumb herself down to “fit in” or be cool. She’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders so I’m not really concerned about her. I’ll be watching for those signs though… no resting on my laurels. Things can change in a blink of an eye so it’s my job as her mom to make sure I keep my finger on the pulse.
BTW, if you are attending Science Camp at Mount Hermon, here are some recommendations of what to pack beyond clothes and toiletries…
- a twin size fitted sheet (flat would work too) to cover the vinyl mattress (those things get dragged around and it’s doubtful they ever get cleaned!
- a warm sleeping bag (the kind for real camping)
- warm pajamas (one girl wore summer PJs and froze; camp is usually in the late Winter/early Spring when it’s NOT warm yet so dress accordingly
- two towels (one for swimming and one for showering)
- flip flops (for the pool and to wear in the shower – NOT kidding here)
- comfortable shoes for hiking (ones that you’re NOT afraid to get messed up cuz there is mud, etc.)
- a light backpack to carry water, camera, tissues and the occasional sack lunch prepared on site
- a refillable water bottle (we brought our own bottles of water also because we’re particular about our water, but if you’re ok with tap water, it is available)
- food/snacks are NOT allowed, but I personally didn’t feel like they provided enough snacks for the kids considering the amount of hiking they did. A couple of granola bars wouldn’t hurt as long as they’re smart about not having it out attracting bugs and animals, i.e. BE RESPONSIBLE!
- some art supplies would be helpful in creating the poster – markers, crayons, paint (if they’re careful)
Here are two videos I made to remember the experience with. I think you’ll agree it looks like we had a good time.