Monday, April 19, 2010

Outward Bound Bound

Alarm went of nice and early today (although not as bad as when Alex went to Japan last month) so we could drop Alex off for his 8th grade trip. They'll be spending the week out in the western part of the state with NC Outward Bound.

They left Raleigh this morning at 6:30 and should meet up with the Outward Bound instructors at 11:00. They'll be assigned to groups (of 10-12) and leaders, go over and pack their gear and then start walking. They won't return to base camp until Friday around noon. Everything they'll need for the week they'll pack in with them. They are taught how to use a compass and read a topo map and then are responsible for making sure they get to each evening's camp location. They have no tents, but will be taught how to make a canopy (if needed) with a tarp. They'll do some rock climbing and rappelling.

On Thursday they have reflection time, where each student is plopped down in the woods alone (although within earshot of the group leaders; each student has a whistle) for 2hrs of reflection time. They're to spend that time thinking and journaling about ????? The past few days; this past year; the past three years at Exploris; what the future holds; fears, concerns, excitement about the challenges ahead in high school; 2 hours worth of doodling? It's actually an exercise (minus the sitting alone in the wilderness to do it) that these kids are pretty comfortable with at this point in their Exploris career. Every semester they compile a portfolio of work they've done to present to their teacher and parents. They open with a letter of reflection, looking back at the semester and what they've accomplished and how they hope to grow. Alex' teacher this year has been a sixth grade teacher up until this year. When we had his portfolio conference in December his teacher commented that she needed to schedule longer conference sessions because these 8th graders are so much more verbose than the 6th graders . . . they've grown in their time there and are capable of really looking inside and sharing what they see.

Friday when they return to base camp they have a ceremony to celebrate the challenges that the students faced during the week. The students are each presented with a pin which the student can take if they feel they lived up to the expections they had set for themselves at the beginning of the trip. In the past, some students have chosen not to accept the pins, have gone home to continue the journey and at a later time contacted NC Outward Bound to tell them they had reached their goals. And a pin was sent to them.

Then they load up on the charter bus (poor, poor bus driver . . . I'm sure the stench will be beyond compensation)and head home.

I'm so excited and envious and I cannot wait to hear all about his week. And hopefully he'll remember to take a few photos!

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