One of my favorite things about teaching in the upper elementary is going on trips with the students. Yes, they are exhausting (midnight bathroom visits do occur), but it gives me a chance to see a different side of the children. Each of them stretches their boundaries a little bit (or a lot) while they're gone, and it is clear how much taller they stand when they arrive home on Friday.
Wednesday morning the students showed up bright eyed and ready to go. There were a few tears, but for the most part, the excitement was palpable. The bus ride was filled with singing, laughter, and quiet chatting and from the moment they got to camp, they were fully in it.
The students played games that required a large amount of trust and reliance on each other; in one game, a student was blindfolded (the doer) and received directions from someone who couldn't see them (the talker), but instead relied on someone else who communicated non-verbally what was going on (the seer). Although activities like these can be incredibly frustrating, the students worked together to accomplish their tasks, appreciating each other as they went. Students who often take a back seat, found a way to make their voices heard - and they often had the solutions the team needed to succeed.
Often though, the things that impressed me the most happened outside of our scheduled activities. A 6th year gave a piggy-back ride to a tired 4th year or helped to braid her hair. Friends comforted each other when they were nervous, scared, or felt bad. Bunk groups created elaborate skits and played games together. Everyone was included in gaga ball and felt like they could play. People taught others how to use the showers or gave them tips for efficient ways to bathe. I could go on and on. The care and kindness that these students showed each other is remarkable.
Traveling with them and watching them work, I know that I have the best job in the world.
Izzi (on behalf of the UE team)