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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nature's Classroom

I love my children more than life itself. Im thrilled when they are about to embark on anything in which they will learn and experience the adventures of life. So, when it was the first day of Kindergarden for both Christopher and Giavanna I was excited for them and for the start of their formal education.  I did not shed a tear when they boarded the bus for the first time. I was not sick with worry or riddled with anxiety in the least bit. So yesterday, after much preparation- Christopher set out on a school trip for three nights. The entire fifth grade class is at a facility in Connecticut called Nature's Classroom. The students are allowed zero contact with home.
This program takes place on a 700 acre learning facility in which students are immersed in environmental education. They spend much time outdoors on hikes and also have two classes a day in either Science, Math, Social Studies or Humanities. It seems to me like a fantastic hands on opportunity for children to learn not only academically but also how to live in harmony- hopefully- with others.

The preparation for this trip has been ongoing. Since I am all about preparedness, otherwise known as being ever so slighty obsessive, I began this a few weeks ago. It should come as NO surprise that as far as camping equitment, outdoor survival things and other hiking accessories - our house is lacking.  While I love the outdoors, my idea of enjoying fresh air is more along the lines of dining al fresco or perhaps taking a walk on a nice little street alined with shops.Think Newbury Street in Boston or the area around NYU in the city.
  Don't get me wrong, when I have to- I tend to my flowers and yard and mulch and all that stuff but you won't find me strapping on my hiking boots and heading to Aspetuk Reserve. I do however have one pair of hiking boots. Im having a flashback of hiking in the White Mountains with an outdoorsy ex boyfriend. It was very pretty and enjoyable. We would take his big sloppery dog with us and head to New Hamphire and hike up Mount Washington. Okay, I admit it, I did have lipgloss in my backpocket and I did not enjoy the clothing that was required but I did it and I liked it. Shame I have not been back since we broke up, over twenty years ago. Insert smile.
Those nice leather hiking boots are collecting alot of dust. Giavanna can use them when she starts her hiking career.

Christopher and I headed to Eastern Mountain Sport to buy some manly gear.  We bought everything in black because I figured that Giavanna can use it when it's her turn. This stuff is very expensive.  We don't need two sets of camping stuff. I know she will have a fit if her bags are not pink or something girly but I will deal with that later. She is living example of "the apple not falling far from the tree".

We spent around 400 dollars on this shopping outing- ten pairs of this, four sets of that, flashlight, bedding, and more. They were told to pack old clothes that were grungy. Anyone who has met Christopher would attest to the fact that the grunge look is not his style. While he is casual, he always wears a collared shirt. He gravitates towards preppy and loves the styles that are found in the Vineyard Vines catalog and Brooks Brothers. When he was five I told him that he had to wear collared shirts to school, like rugbys and polos. I successfully imprinted that in his mind and he prides himself on being well dressed and neat. Needless to say, when it was time to pack, I had to run to Target to buy some shirts that he would typically not wear. It made me laugh that I was shopping for new- grungy clothes as his closet lacked them.

The required list of things was incredible. You would think they were going off for two months. Yesterday, it was very fun to see how different everyone packed and organized their "duffle bags". Some were rolling luggage, others were big black trash bags. As people vary with their clothing style, this also runs true with their travel gear. I packed Christopher's duffle bag in a very orderly fashion, sectioning it off by category. I checked my list twice, more like ten times and sent him on his way.

He was so excited and I too felt the excitement for him. I gave him a very happy hug and told him that I would be thinking of him every minute of every day. I encouraged him to enjoy, and to not worry about the small discomforts that may be present such as rooming with someone who is not his best buddy. I explained to him that it would be a good experience - to have to learn how to live and work  with people that he might not love- what an extraordinary experience to have at ten years of age.

 I love that he is there this week. I join many other Mothers in concern and wonder as this is the first time many of us have been totally cut off from our children. With Christopher, having him away was not a big relief. I truly enjoy his company and I love the conversations that I have with him. He is so much like the men in my family, more specifically my Father.  He is insightful, intelligent and wonderfully sweet. I know he will have a wonderful few days in the woods and my hope for him is that he rips his clothes, gets them filthy and tracks mud everywhere. I hope he looks messy and outdoorsy however I know better than most, that you can take the city boy out of the city but you can't take the city out of the boy. Hang in there Moms- Friday is just around the bend.

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