Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saunters. . . The Final Countdown

You may remember the 80's rock song from a band called Europe entitled The Final Countdown. This particular song has always been special to me. In fact, it was even a "must have" for our wedding reception due to my infatuation with it.

The song triggers memories of that wedding reception, the summer league baseball games where it was played to rev up the team, and oddly enough of my teenage trips to Best Buy, being that this was one of the first CD's I ever purchased. However, now this song will conjure up another memory: the memory of my first ever Saunters program.

As my class trekked down the Monches Segment on our final afternoon together, a number of children who had been "entertaining" the group all week with sporadic karaoke moments belted this tune. It felt right as this literally was the final countdown of our week together. A week that saw many unusual moments.

A bus breakdown.

A train breakdown that forced a long and somewhat stressful re-route.

A dramatic bee sting.

A million or so bug bites (I think the smell of insect repellent is permanently clinging to my nostrils)

A history lesson on composting outhouses.

A return of the social and emotional tribulations of upper elementary kids  I had purposely forgotten about since I left 4th grade.

But while this list may indicate the week was a loss, it couldn't be further from the truth.

This was an amazing week with an exceptional group of kids. Though some were less than motivated at the beginning of the week and a bit disenchanted after a grueling and soggy start on Monday, each day brought a new challenge, a new adventure, and a new level of pride and perseverance.

On Friday's community & family hikes through the Loew Lake and Monches segments, the student hikers each had their turn as hike leader with a goal of carefully watching where they were going, taking care of the hikers behind them, and pointing out something along the way. With about 60 total hikers ranging from family and friends to Saunters donors and Ice Age Trail chapter members, they had quite a task ahead of them.

The student leaders all did a wonderful job of taking their turn at the lead and showcasing their own personalities. They shared a wealth of knowledge in both educational and entertaining ways. Whether it was pointing out Native American marker trees, discussing glacial features and habitats, or belting out 80's rock ballads, each student showed off great growth both educationally and personally.

So, it was a good week. . .and an even better ending.

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