Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Great Outdoors?

So just over a week ago, my vice-principal informed me that we were one staff member short for our annual grade 7  overnight trip to Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre. Then she smiled at me. I took that as my cue to volunteer. Not that I hadn't already volunteered...now I was just volunteering to go for the entire week instead of the usual 2.5 days.

When I broke the news to my husband and colleagues, I rolled my eyes and offered a, "Can you believe I have to go for the whole week!" But between you and me, I was sort of happy to be going. In my mind, it was a five day break from the ordinary. Five days when someone else could do all the cooking. Five days of eating All-Dressed chips in bed while watching yet another episode of Anthony Bourdin's No Reservations late into the night. Five days of cozying up to the fire with a book after the student have gone to sleep. Five days of twice-a-day hiking, tree-top trekking, and running through the woods in the great outdoors (believe it or not, this is a bonus for me; I LOVE being in the great outdoors and I've barely had time to be there in the past two weeks). In my (naïve) mind I was thinking that this would be sort-of like going to the Catskills for the weekend...with a bit of childcare on the side.

I was wrong.

This trip was no walk in the park. It was more like a walk in a tarantula-and-poisonous-snake-infested jungle. But with more sprained ankles and colder temperatures.

In 5 days, I experienced:
  • 1 sleepless night due to updates every 15 minutes from a student who couldn't sleep.
  • 2 separate trips to the Alliston hospital.
  • 3 phone calls to a parent before convincing her that she needed to pick up her son because the"slightly twisted ankle" she said he had when she dropped him off Monday morning was actually a broken foot (this is separate from the aforementioned hospital visits).
I never got to eat the chips as I gave the away to the first kid I took to the hospital.
I never did get to watch my bookmarked Bourdains since there was no wifi.
I missed a hike, the low-ropes course, a campfire, and at least two roasted marshmallows due to the multiple hospital trips.

I did get to go tree-top trekking but my zip line trip wasn't zippy enough and I got stranded, dangling high above the forest floor for the longest 15 minutes of my life. If weren't for the fact that the harness was greatly impairing my ability to breathe, it would've been quite a breathtaking view.

On the very last day, I finally got to read my book by the fire-but only because by that last day I had such a brutal cold that I had to stay inside instead of going on the last hike of the trip. I would've much rather been hiking.

You know what else was nice?
Walking along the Niagara Escarpment under the clear blue sky

This beaver dam/bridge.
The first flakes of the season.
This view from above. Can you spot the ant-sized students below?

This head-scratching sign in the Alliston Hospital parking lot.

...and this head-scratching sign in downtown Orangeville.
Is this really so much a problem that they needed to create a sign?
And this awesome quote from a student upon completing the high ropes course:

The feeling of pride I had at the end was bigger than the fear I had at the beginning. That makes it worth it.

That pretty much sums up how I feel about my week at Mono Cliffs.

Count me in for next year!

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