May 6, 2006

Bugs 1 - NHS 0

Community Service Saturday and we were totally excited. 15 kids signed up for the adventure clinic a hill of brush to clear and no rain. What could be better?

I started to worry a bit when I met Steve at Irving this morning warning me that the bugs at Palazii were bad. It seemed like a bad omen that he was warning me about the conditions at the lacrosse field and I was heading up into the woods. I bought some bug spray.

When we got to the mountain it was bad. I mean it wasn't northern Canada tundra bad, or even northern Maine deep woods bad, but it was still bad. Hats off to Perf, Olivia, Gunner and Meagan who set up the tower, sorted medical forms and kept their good humor while belaying. Belaying can be one of the most frustrating activities. Sure it's super critical and important and someone's life depends on it and all that. But basically you sit there in the heat and the bugs - with your hands completely occupied!

So of the 15 only 4 showed up. Can't blame them, they must have walked out of their houses, been attacked by a swarm of bugs on the way to the car and decided wisely to do something else with their Saturday morning than be eaten alive.

But the four we did have were great! It was Aaron, Isiah and Maya's first visit to the mountain and Rose was back for her fourth time. Not sure if it was her fourth time really, but she's been climbing, belaying and help tie figure eight knots for quite a few times now.

Having her back again made me want to develop some system to help kids track what they've done and give them ideas for where to go next on the AT. For example if you've climbed a bunch and belayed - maybe you should teach knots or something before going on to the assistant instructor level. It could be like a kind of progress chart to see where folks are and inspire them to keep coming back. I'd love if some of these folks kept coming back and learning and experiencing more.

Even the community service crew working on the brush and clearing the ski hill had to quit after an hour due to the bugs. One thing we didn't get to was spreading the mulch that Bob dropped at the bottom of the tower. There were a couple of huge stumps that were ground up on campus and I had asked him if he needed all the mulch. Thanks, Bob!

Here is what Meagan wrote about the morning:

"Today despite what we thought we had a very small amount of people. But everyone had just as much fun as a large group. Everybody made it at least half way and some people even made it to the top. Thanks to all the climbers and New Hampton students."

Almost forgot - Olivia, Megan and Gunner kept everyone's spirits up by giving all the kids nicknames and secretly prepping them for the answers to the questions I was going to ask. Me: "Okay kids how tall is the tower?" Olivia: "Iceman, why don't you answer that question." Isiah (Iceman): "It's fifty feet tall!" Me: "Wait, have you been here before?" Iceman: "Nope, but Challenge by Choice means . . . ."

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