Saturday, August 1, 2020

Is It Worth It?

Starting an outdoor education program certainly has drawbacks.

When it first began, the fear of failure lingered until the program became established.

The stresses of risk and hazard assessment can be overwhelming.

Being the caretaker of the land takes hours (and dollars) away from other interests and opportunities.

I've been stung and bitten many times. I've lost blood, sweat, and tears in the process.

Colleagues have openly explained that they feel pressured into doing things they aren't comfortable with because of the success of the program.

The physical, mental, and emotional toll of starting a program is real. Very real.

So, is it worth it?

The included pictures and videos offer a small taste of what I am fortunate enough to call my classroom.


I get to experience children discovering nature.

I get to watch children express creativity, innovation, and imagination.

I get to see children grow academically, socially, physically, and emotionally while they play,

I get to learn and grow right along with the children I am honored to teach.


So, even with the fear of failure, exposure to risks and hazards, time away from other pursuits, and potential friction among colleagues, I ask again.

Is it worth it?

Without a doubt.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Pandemic Possibility

Anyone who knows my family is well aware of our affinity for time in nature. Chances are you'll find us exploring one of our favorite spots or discovering a new location outside. Luckily for us, the Ice Age Trail gives us both options. While we can trek familiar trail, we also have hundreds and hundreds of miles yet to enjoy.

However, our experiences with the trail shifted when pandemic life took over in March. We temporarily halted the Tyke Hike program we coordinate for our local chapter. As we adjusted to the new expectations of social distancing, we wondered way hiking would like. As stay at home orders went into effect and parks closed, we worried we wouldn't be able to engage in one of our favorite activities.

Luckily, while many things around our community closed, the Ice Age Trail remained open. With extra safety precautions, we took advantage of our adjusted work and school schedules and took to the trail. While the world around us was evolving and seemingly flipped upside down, the trail remained a constant. A constant source of fun. A constant sources of physical exercise. A constant source of family.

Pandemic Family Hike - Loew Lake Segment
Pandemic Family Hike - Loew Lake Segment


From March to May, while we navigated the new expectations of our world, we made sure to keep the Ice Age Trail and other natural areas close. For our own mental and physical sanity, we felt it crucial to spend time outdoors. Then June came. We had heard that an ultrarunner would be working to create a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) of traveling the entire 1,100+ mile path of the Ice Age Trail. 

Maybe it was the lack of professional sports. Maybe it was our envy of such stunning endurance and physical ability. Maybe it was jealousy of being able to travel the state. Maybe it was a combination. Either way, we were excited to follow Coree Woltering's journey. Our excitement jumped up a notch when by random chance, we met Coree and his team in the Devil's Lake State Park parking lot while he prepared to climb the bluffs and we were about to venture on another family hike. As his journey brought him closer to our home segments, that anticipation jumped another notch. My wife and I provided each other with regular updates. My kids chimed in, wanting to know where Mr. Coree was. 

We even decided to bring the team brats and donuts as they ventured into the parts of the trail we called home. My wife, Jillian, took it even one step further. In following Coree's journey, we saw that he was looking for someone to trek with him as he pulled an all nighter. With his team being in our home segment and my wife being a third shifter, the stars aligned. She was able to join him for the Scuppernong Segment. The next night was my turn. We communicated with this team throughout the day and I offered to run through the night with Coree should he choose to pull another long night. Selfishly, I felt bummed when I didn't get that opportunity, but after some grueling days, Coree and his team took a well-deserved break. With three kids in tow, it just didn't work out this time. I look forward to helping out in some way in the future.

Jillian and Coree at Scuppernong Segment

Coree achieved the FKT and I think he would be the first to say he didn't do it alone. His amazing tram helped out tremendously. However, in post-FKT conversations and interviews, a pattern emerged. Coree and his team acknowledged the Ice Age Trail community as being helpful, generous, and encouraging. 

I couldn't agree more. Now for six years, I've volunteered for the trail logging over 1,000 hours. Yet, my contributions seems miniscule to what I have noticed around me. The Ice Age Trail community of volunteers is a uniting force that works extremely well together. So many selfless individuals donate time, talent, and treasure to help the trail move closer and closer to the end goal of completion. Hearing Coree and his team reiterate the amazing collaborative power of the trail community solidified my love for the trail and inspired me to push my volunteer spirit even further.

John Muir Segment

But if this experience lit a spark for me, it created a wildfire for my wife. Since the pandemic, she has dug deeper into the trail than ever before. Like many chapters, our chapter has a hiking reward program for completing all the miles of the trail with in the chapter. That was her first goal. It was fun to see her scour the guidebook to plan out her next hike. It was also wonderful to see her bring in a handful of friends on the trail. She hiked each segment with one friend at a time, alternating friends and segments, and officially completing the Walk the Wauk program in quick fashion. While walking the 45 miles is impressive enough, seeing how she inspired her peers to get outside (and some even joined the chapter) is inspiring. 

But she didn't stop there. On our regular trips to the Lake Delton area, she planned out a four day adventure that included four new segments explored and four new segments completed. I joke with others that ask if I am a 1,000 miler (the term given to someone who has completed the entire trail). Rather than hike the entire trail, I jest that I have hiked the same one-mile stretch a thousand times.  Seriously though, with children offers challenges not faced when with adults in on your own. Luckily, finding a few wild blackberries or seeing an awesome bird helps motivate the kids. Stopping in a trail town for ice cream certainly doesn't hurt either.

Baraboo Segment

Over these four days, we found four new experiences and four new adventures. With plenty of memories made, I can't wait for our next segment excursion. Being able to spend this time with my family, trekking "new to us" trail and venturing into new communities once again deepened our connection to the trail. My kids enjoy making their adventure videos after each hike and seeing themselves in social media. I know my wife loves adding her date and completion notes in the guidebook. And I absolutely adore seeing the people I love grow closer connections to an organization I love in the state that I love.

Lodi Marsh Segment

And of course, as I type this, my wife is taking another hiking friends out on the trail with hopes of knocking out one segment today and two more tomorrow.

City of Lodi Segment

This pandemic has certainly created problems. But for us, a family that loves to turn obstacles into opportunities, it has also created a world of possibilities.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

From Chasing Trains to Chasing Cranes

Growing up, I loved just a block away from Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. This waterway, manicured into a concrete path that eventually fed into the Menomonee River on its way to Lake Michigan, consumed hour after hour of my childhood. From catching frogs to holding stick races, this creek holds a special place in my childhood heart.

One special memory involved the train tracks that paralleled the creek. Regardless of what was happening at our house, the second a train whistle was heard, everything stopped as my father and I hoofed it down the block to chase the train.

From the time I could walk, railroading and trains were an integral part of growing up. Riding the train at the Milwaukee County Zoo, visiting the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, and attending Trainfest at State Fair Park were commonplace. I even played with a very novice miniature train setup I hastily created on my basement's uneven pool table. My father has always loved transportation and is a history buff when it comes to information in Milwaukee's street cars, railroad schedules, and bus routes. As I grew up, trains became part of my identity.

I went scouring railyards with my cousins to take photographs of graffiti. I placed countless pennies on the tracks and collected the flattened copper and discarded railroad spikes on the tracks near my home. I even ended up working on the same trains I enjoyed riding as a kid at the zoo.

Years later, I still enjoy trains. My kids have a train table in our playroom. We enjoy regular trips on the zoo's train. My oldest daughter even gleefully giggles when we get stopped by a passing train on our drive to school.

But now, a new pastime has taken over.

Instead of chasing trains, I now chase cranes.

Admittedly, up until a handful of years ago, I really didn't know or care to know too much about cranes. However, as time progressed and my experiences in nature increased, so too did my enjoyment and appreciation of these beautiful birds.

My wife is a huge bird nerd (her words, not mine). We both love nature and in our outdoor adventures, she helped me learn about and dig deeper into the world of birds. It certainly didn't hurt to have some of the best places I've ever known for birdwatching to be just a few hours away. Before children, my wife and I enjoyed trips to Horicon March and the International Crane Foundation. Now, with three kids in tow, these trips are even more enjoyable.

These days, whether we're driving to Grandma's house, or roadtripping around the Badger State, you better believe that all of us are scanning the open fields to ad to our crane count. For example, in the last 36 hours, we have found a field with dozen of sandhills, had an unexpected run in three whooping crane we tried to coax into calling to us while we played crane class through our car's speakers, and pulled over on a country drive to ley the cranes cross the road.

Seeing the joy my children have when they see trains or cranes is heartwarming. They are soaking knowledge, asking questions, and making predictions about what they are seeing and experiencing.

Literally, as I write this, my wife is showing three very excited kids crane videos. I'm not even making this up.

I can't guarantee what my next pastime might be, but rest assured, if I hear a train or see a crane, I'll be chasing.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Slow Down to Catch Up

Let's get it straight. Everyone wants to get back to school! Safely. However, one reason many are pushing for schools to fully
re-open irks me.

“The kids are falling behind. They need to catch up!”

Let me counter that position with a question of my own: When did education become a race?

Sadly, many feel the best way to “catch up” is to increase academic rigor, up expectations, and inundate students with the work they
missed while away from the brick and mortar classroom.

If there is any way to crush creativity, amplify anxiety, and eradicate the enthusiasm of getting back into the classroom, this would
be it.

Maybe the kids can “catch up” by slowing down.

That may sound oxymoronic, but in my experiences as an early childhood educator, I learn more by seemingly doing less. Forget
the image of a teacher lounging in a hammock with a cold beverage in your head? Instead, think of a duck. Calm on the surface but
paddling like crazy under the water.

When I say doing less, I mean saying less, directing less, and controlling less. In other words, slow down. Breathe. Observe. Think. 
We can only control what we can control. The pressure to pick up the pace, complete more in less time, and make up for
lost time will be incredible. 

The best way to push back on this unnecessary and inevitable pressure is actually quite simple. Play more.

Allowing the time, space, and opportunity to play will catch the children up. There is a disheartening misnomer out there that
equates play to be a waste of time and only utilized as a reward in the classroom, if utilized at all. The truth couldn't be farther
from the truth. Play is not a break from learning. Play is learning. Play is not an alternative to work. Play is work. Play is not a
reward. It is a right. In play, the skills necessary for academic endurance and achievement are practiced and perfected.

Want your students to be a problem solver? Play.

Want your children to improve communication? Play.

Want your class to express creativity? Play.

Want everyone to think critically? Play.

And don’t for one second think you can’t play simply because you are an adult. Play doesn't care. Play doesn't end in childhood,
or at least it shouldn't. Adults need play now more than possible ever before.

Schools, families, and communities have a chance to mold the “new normal” into whatever we want to be. Just think, with a focus
on play, we could replace this race idea which, like it or not, pits parties against each other, and instead foster a new educational
era of collaboration and cooperation.

Just by playing.

Let's slow down to catch up.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Playful Professional Development

About six years ago, my educational evolution began when a student helped me realize that I needed to transform my teaching. That transformation reintroduced the power of play in my classroom and paved the way for the creation of the successful nature kindergarten program I coordinate in my public school today. Focused on my 4 P's philosophy (play-based, place-based, project-based, personalized) with foundations in emergent experiences with nature, citizen science, service learning, and community collaborations. my classroom shifted to a whole child approach and hasn't looked back.

Knee deep in a pandemic with just weeks to go before schools likely reopen, the importance of social and emotional learning opportunities has never been more important. Some might think the constraints of social distancing and minimizing shared supplies are crushing the potential of play in the classroom. While creativity will be crucial, play must go on. In fact, the opportunities to play must increase.

I am oddly excited to try new ideas and play possibilities. I feel that this whole new way of educating will be an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Now more than ever, harnessing the power of play and taking advantage of any outdoor opportunities are essential.

In October of 2021, I am happy to bring in my first professional book, tentatively entitled Teaching Off Trail, and published by Redleaf Press. Until then, I wanted to share just a sample of my favorite resources that guided me in my transformation. Enjoy!

Crisis in the Kindergarten : Why Children Need Play in School, Edward Miller and Jan Almon
When I first looked into changing the way I worked with kindergarteners, I cam across this journal. I'm glad I did. This book planted the seed of play in my head.

Play : How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown M.D.

Once I realized bringing play back was the direction I wanted to take, I found some books that backed up the power of play with research and data.

The Power of Play : Learning What Comes Naturally, David Elkind Ph.D.
I enjoyed learning about the science behind the importance of play. This book validates and reinforces why play is essential.
Play at the Center of Curriculum, Judith Van Hoorn, Patricia Monighan Nourot, Barbara Scales, Keith Rodriguez Alward
Now that I had researched play and better understood the amazing impacts it can have in children, I sought out specific resources connecting play and school. This book hit home to me and affirmed the need to use play to enhance my kindergarten curriculum.

Free to Learn : Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, Peter Gray
When I attended a nature-based early education conference, I was excited to learn more about how to use nature to enhance the educational experiences of my students. I left even more excited when I truly started to realize how the power of play and nature could join forces.

Adventure : The Value of Risk in Children's Play, Joan Almon
Of course, in researching nature pay, the concept of risks and hazards came to light This book described the differences and promoted the benefits of risky play.

Let the Children Play : How More Play Will Save our Schools and Help Children Thrive, Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle
I loved how this book detailed play programs from throughout the world. It was wonderful to see the power of play in action, but also depressing to know that this country has a lot of work to do when it comes to utilizing play's potential. That is changing though!

The Power of Place : Authentic Learning Through Place-Based Education, Tom Vander Ark, Emily Liebtag,                    Nate McClennen

Focusing on inquiry and community, this book provided even more affirmations to my 4 P's philosophy. It's great to  make text connections to the work I am bringing to my school, district, and community 

The Playful Classroom : The Power of Play For All Ages, Jed Dearybury and Julie Jones Ph.D.
This amazing resource does a spectacular job of summing up the power of play by sharing ideas, activities, and inspiration. Truly, play should not stop when you get to school. This is where it should take off!

A Forrest Days Handbook : Program Design for School Days Outside, Eliza Minnucci and Meghan Teachout

When I was organizing my thought s for starting an outdoor program. I was fortunate enough to meet the author of this book. We connected before this book was written and I am honored to have her be  a part of my own book.
Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook : Teaching, Environment, Safety, Administration,                 Natural Start Alliance

Being one of the contributing writers, I may be a bit biased, but I think this final resource might be the best resource in the history of civilization. Seriously though, if you want to take your classroom outside but aren't sure how, this book is here to help.

There are so many other resources and books I could've added to this entry.  I am thankful for all the hard work done by each of these authors and writers. Their passion for enriching the playfulness of our educational system is needed, now more than ever. Maybe, just maybe, someone else down the line will be add my own book to a list like this. These books haver shaped my journey and molded my philosophy. I can't wait to share my story and can only hope it inspires someone in some tiny way.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Four Factors of Responsible Nature Play

As seen in the summer edition of Playground Professionals magazine, here is my take on nature play.

Four Factors of Responsible Nature Play
By Peter Dargatz

The sounds of children playing filled the air. Besides an occasional trip home for a snack or bathroom break,
their entire day was spent outside. Climbing trees. Catching critters. Living life. And without an adult in sight.
Adults often look back on these days of nature play as some of the best days of their lives.

Sadly, those days of nature play are few and far between for most of today's generation. Many questions exist.
Who is to blame for the loss of these opportunities? Is it our reliance (and often over reliance) to be constantly
entertained through some type of screen? Are adult caregivers worried about the appearance of looking
apathetic or irresponsible when it comes to supervising their children? Is “unstructured” a scary term? Does the
fear of litigation, a loss of control, or societal dangers (perceived or legitimate) hold play back? Have these days
of nature play disappeared forever? Is there any way to bring them back in the world we live today?

In a word. Yes. Under one condition.

Let the kids lead. 

But how? Put away the bubble wrap. Provide clear expectations. Let the children explore, get dirty, and take
risks. We survived. They will too. In fact, taking away the opportunity to lead nature play and experience nature is
stunting children’s creativity, hindering their problem-solving capabilities, and ignoring necessary skills important
to their physical, social, and emotional development. 

Responsible nature play provides countless benefits. But before jumping into some serious nature play, four
factors need to be considered. 

“Unstructured” Fallacy
The word ”unstructured” is misleading. Nature play is not uncontrollable chaos. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
When led by children, nature play has intense flexibility and organization, even though the untrained adult eye
might initially see it as a free for all. Rather than use the erroneous term of “unstructured,” try emergent or
child-led. A tweak in terminology can go a long way. Similar to scaffolding in a traditional classroom, parents can
experience nature play right alongside their children. As a child becomes more experienced with their
environment, the adults will be able to lead less and observe more. Eventually, a child with an array of nature
play experiences will earn the trust of their caregiver and should be given the freedom and right  to be the
director of their own play. Observant adults will appreciate the structure that exists in “unstructured” play.

Risk vs. Hazard
Ticks and sticks, two words that cause serious adult anxiety. Risky? Sure. But true nature play requires risk.
Children need risk and thrive when given the opportunity to experience it. Their ability to assess risk only grows
and gains credibility when nurtured and practiced as independently as possible. Even then, a child’s self
assessment skills involving risk are vastly underrated. Adults feel the need to protect our children. Even with the
best intentions, adults paving the way for every move their child makes does not equate to protecting them.  It’s
impossible (and irresponsible) to eliminate every risk for children. Hazards, however, need to be discovered and
removed. Understanding the difference between risk and hazards and developing that understanding with
children is an imperative.

Missed Opportunities
Dirt. Water. Weather. I call these the three misrepresented elements of nature play. Unfortunately, while
attempting to be proactive problem-solvers, adults may inhibit the magic of nature play by purposely avoiding
these elements. Avoidance is not nearly as beneficial as preparedness. Kids like getting dirty and believe it or
not, dirt and mud offer health benefits. Remember, dirt doesn't hurt. Water play can be risky. This is a prime
example of understanding the difference between risk and hazard. If only a risk, get wet because it's a scientific
fact that water will dry. Playing in perfect weather is ideal, but being engaged in nature play in all that weather
encourages new perspectives and instills appreciation of everything nature offers us. There is no such thing as
bad weather, only bad clothing.

To Pick or Not To Pick
Nature play doesn't need to always follow a straight line. Kids (and adults) like to go off trail and explore.
Obviously, when playing in a space outside of one’s own yard, the expectations of that location should be
respected. However, when able, experiencing nature off trail allows for new sensory experiences that bring play
to the next level. Kids love picking flowers. They treasure trailblazing. They enjoy experimenting with a branch’s
dexterity. Going off trail is memorable and meaningful, but it is also controversial. Do the risks of going off trail
outweigh the benefits? Are there hazards? Is the area in question ecologically vulnerable? Will the actions and
activities associated with going off trail leave lasting ecological impacts on the land? With some common sense
and some basic education about respect for the environment, going off trail is an excellent element in responsible
nature play.

Responsible nature play is not simply opening the door and sending children outside until the street lights come
back on, but it is a collaborative effort between children and adults. Mountains of research prove that there should
be no debate on the value of nature play in healthy whole child development. In presentations, I often refer to
nature play as play on steroids. It takes the positive benefits of play to the next level.

When these four factors are understood, practiced, and practiced again, children will once again be trusted to
climb trees, catch critters, and live life under the guidance of Mother Nature and their own imaginations. 

Teach Off Trail

I am so excited to announce that my book, tentatively titled Teach Off Trail, will be published by Redleaf Press at a time to be determined. This book will encapsulate my educator evolution and detail how I incorporated my 4 P's philosophy to create and coordinate a nature kindergarten program in my public school.

Here's a little preview.

Markers and glue sticks are strewn across the floor. A cardboard box has been transformed into a jetpack, paper towel roll rocket boosters and all. Pieces of felt and clippings from old magazines have been collected and attached to various projects, each serving their own very important purpose. Minutes before, celebratory applause amongst hoots and hollers echoed throughout the room as the Math Championship belt changed hands. A couple of incomplete puzzles and loose pieces cover the counter. The drying rack is overflowing with coffee filter turkeys, bingo dauber trees, and marker cap pattern trains. A quick scan around the rest of the room shows a swimming pool of stuffed animals, a bookshelf of nature artifacts, a large storage tub of baseball cards, and a menagerie of dress up clothes and housekeeping items. Anything and everything you can imagine can be found throughout this classroom. Except students.

Where are they?

A quick look out the window and the mystery is solved. A few students scale the fallen tree. A few more check in and make changes to their mouse houses. Still others are using sticks to make dirt drawings. A pair near the rock pile add bark pieces and dried leaves to their stew. A couple more hanging out at their Sit Spots tally the birds they observe in their nature notebooks. A trio of boys turned their constructed shelter into a pirate ship and before searching for treasure. Their treasure chest is bursting with acorns and seed pods, but the hunt for more loot never ends.

Neither does the play.

But it wasn’t always like this . . .

Rewind a few years back and you would see a more traditional 21st Century kindergarten classroom. Bright colors illuminated every wall, except of course where the interactive whiteboard was hung. There’d be chairs neatly surrounding rectangular tables with color-coded supply storage bins neatly organized and inventoried at each table. Tablets, laptops, and other state-of-the-art technology were loaded with the latest reading and math fact apps, charged and ready for action. The classroom library was organized by reading levels. The stoplight pocket chart clearly showed the behavior infractions observed that day. Everything and everyone had their place. And they were expected to keep it that way.

            Morning equaled literacy. Period. A structured reading lesson gave way to specific word work with a big book or poem. Writing time provided a guided lesson followed by some silent work time and possibly some sharing time. Phonics drilled and killed letter sound associations, rhyming, and phonemic awareness. Sight words were introduced, practiced, searched for, practiced again, used in a sight word game or activity, and practiced again. Eventually, they became part of a weekly assessment along with words utilizing the sound and/or chunk of the week. During stations time, teacher-selected worksheets and phonics games were assigned to groups also chosen by the teacher. While those groups worked on their task, small guided reading and/or pre-reading skill groups were pulled for more intense instruction. Any time during the morning, students who didn’t reach a predetermined data point in a certain skill left the room for more direct instruction and practice with a paraprofessional.

            After station time, it was time for recess. Of course, if anyone was unable to complete their work for any reason, they could just take the first five to ten minutes (or longer if needed) of their recess to finish up. No big deal.

            After some recess and lunch, the march back to the classroom led into math time. After a brief look at the calendar, the interactive whiteboard led a lesson on various math topics including numeral identification, numeral formation, patterns, measurement, number sentences, counting strategies, and addition and subtraction. After completing the lesson, the students broke into predetermined groups to review the aforementioned skills. Some stayed at the board for their activity. Others practiced math facts using flashcards they prepared earlier in the year. A few other groups used worksheets to continue digging deeper into the skill of the week. One group may have played a math board game if a particular worksheet wasn’t available. Once the math groups concluded, students gathered around the whiteboard again to copy down numbers and really master numeral formation and/or addition and subtraction.

After math, the class traveled to specials. Usually two a day. Music. Art. Technology. Guidance. Fitness. This was crucial planning time for the teacher. Time was needed to go over the literacy and math worksheets collected that day and copy new ones for the next day.

            After the class returned from specials and scarfed down a snack, intervention block arrived. If students didn’t complete their daily work, needed extra support because they didn’t complete it correctly, or lagged in some skill according to collected data, they had some time to finish their work and possibly even get some time with the teacher.

If time remained, the class might work on science or social studies, but usually in a condensed format. Lots of experiments required setting up and preparing ahead of time, so they were usually skipped, though the teacher might talk about them and see if students can figure it out. If the experiment was completed, rarely did the class really discuss the results or troubleshoot anything that might have come up during the implementation process. There just wasn’t time.

It was time for each student to complete their end of the day jobs, fill out their stoplight chart, review the standards and academic objectives of the day, and play during what was called choice time.

Of course, if work was incomplete, choice time wasn’t an option.

            And if your name wasn’t on the green portion of the stoplight chart clearly visible to everyone at the front of the room, choice time wasn’t an option.

And if the class needed more time to practice sight words, review math facts, practice lowercase letter formation, preview the next day’s lesson, review another skill, or discuss the upcoming assessment, choice time wasn’t an option.

            But who needed choice time anyways? It was usually loud, messy, disorganized, and full of bickering and disagreements. Some days, the decision was made to have the class prepare for dismissal by sitting quietly to think about the mistakes they made and what they would to fix it.

            Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. The pattern continued. The students never truly figured out how to fix it.

            However, the teacher did. Well, actually, to be quite honest, he had some help.