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STORIES

MAY : CANOEING & CAMPING

Jennifer Gordon

When our Adventure Club team reflected on all of our trips and started planning for the 2014-2015 school year, we decided we wanted to add a warm weather overnight trip to our schedule : a combined camping and canoeing trip!

Students and staff met at the Canton Equestrian Center bright and early on the morning of Saturday, May 9th.    After getting checked in and given a bandana (indicating which tent they’d be in for the weekend), students played games with Mr. Smith and waited for our whole group to arrive.  Once we were all accounted for (including secret chaperone Mr. Paillant!), we headed off on our mile hike into the AMC Missionary Point campsite.  Ms. Robbie, Ms. Gordon, and Mr. P had already started unloading gear from the cars and once everyone arrived, the whole group chipped in.  Gear finally settled, we then headed out on a tour of the area led by Mr. P.  We located the bathrooms, the gear shed, the dock where we’d launch our canoes, and finally circled back to our campground. 

Then it was time for our Full Value Contract.  Ms. Robbie and Ms. Gordon introduced our FVC and explained the 5 core ideas we’d be working on this weekend : Safety (look out for the little guy), Commitment (be present), Be Positive (don’t put yourself or others down), Accountability (listen to and follow directions; own your own actions), Thumbs Up (have fun & do your best).  After discussing each of the 5 ideas, we all got a chance to add our own personal flair to our FVC banner.  Students and staff all contributed their signatures, drawings, and words that connected to the 5 core ideas.  Our banner looked awesome! 

Now it was time to get to work - we had 7 tents to set up!  Staff members passed out gear to students, helped with tent set up, and organized camp.  The students did a great job setting up tents in a variety of locations : either on a platform or in a clear area in the woods.  After that job was done it was finally time for lunch!  It was nice to relax and chat together.  We talked about our group’s plans for the next few hours and then got ready for a team building game.  The name of the game is Pipeline and it was harder than we expected!  Our goal was to get a golf ball from the starting line into a bucket about 15 feet away using only curved wooden tracks.  The group strategized and came up with a plan and after many attempts, we finally felt like we were getting it…..except we never quite made our goal.  Sticking with our 5 core ideas, we accepted defeat in light of a great time. 

For the next few hours, we split into two groups : (1) learning canoe skills with Mr. Best and (2) hiking, geocaching, and games with Ms. Gordon and Ms. Robbie.  Ms. Hanagriff, Mr. Smith, Mr. P, and Ms. Marino joined Mr. Best out on the water.  Each group had some great experiences : finding geocaches (or not finding them….that tricky elusive hollow log!), learning how to maneuver a canoe, enjoying the woods, playing Stinky Fish (one of our favorite canoe games), and attempting a team building activity called Tarp Flip. It was a lot of hard work but it was so fun! 

It was time to start prepping for the evening portion of our first day and that included dinner…which is good, because we all worked up quite the appetite!  Students started changing into their pajamas and broke off into groups to help with different activities around camp : gathering fire wood, taking dinner orders, cleaning up camp, storing gear, and getting everything ready for dinner.  Mr. P and Ms. Hanagriff cooked hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs for us and they were DELICIOUS!  We polished off all the food!  Once dinner was done and cleaned up, our group walked over to a nearby dock and watched the sun set over Ponkapoag Pond.  The sun made the water look orange!  As it started to get dark, we decided to play our favorite Adventure Club game Camouflage.  It’s really hard to play in the dark, but it was extremely fun! 

We got in a few rounds and then Ms. Gordon handed out glow sticks for our walk back to camp.  It was hard at first to walk through the woods in the dark, but as our eyes adjusted, it got much easier.  When we arrived back at camp, we found that Mr. P had kept the fire going for us, which was perfect because it was S’mores time!!  Melty marshmallow goodness!  After all our S’mores had been devoured, we settled into a circle around the campfire for a debrief of the day.  The debrief was called ABC News : we shared out (A) something we appreciated about someone else, (B) our best moment of the day, and (C) something that was a challenge to us and then Ms. Gordon let us know what the plans were for the next day.  Everyone had such thoughtful contributions! Then it was time for us to get into our tents and say goodnight.

Day 2 at Camp Ponkapoag started early.  The adults got breakfast ready (oatmeal and bagels, and coffee for the staff) while students started waking up and getting ready for the day.  We had a lot to do before we started on our day’s fun activities so a good breakfast was necessary!  We spent the morning eating, drinking lots of water (it was going to be hot, so hydration was super important), and then packing up our tents.  We had to break them down and store the gear before we moved on to our next activities.  Everyone chipped in and got everything done pretty quickly.  Students helped transport group gear up to the gear shed and made sure everything was organized before picking up the paddles and PFDs (personal floatation devices, also known as life vests). 

We split into 2 groups again : (1) canoe games and (2) land games.  Mr. Best had some great canoe games planned for us!  We played YOP tag (when your canoe gets tagged, you have to freeze on the water and say, “Yop yop yop yop” until another canoe comes to unfreeze you) and Shipwreck (different commands meant different canoe actions : “retreat!” meant we had to canoe backwards, “lighthouse!” meant we had to canoe in a circle, and “splash down!” meant….you guessed it….splash the closest canoe!).  Land games were also fun (students had a bag of activities to choose from), but the best part was being able to make our very own Adventure Club bracelets! 

After round 1, we all gathered back together for lunch, some processing, and a surprise.  We had our typical Adventure Club lunch (wraps with either peanut butter and jelly or pepperoni and cheese) and Ms. Robbie introduced our processing activity : the Body Part Debrief.  Each member of our group got a card with a body part and a question on it.  We went around the circle and all contributed how we were feeling according to the card we had.  Again, everyone in the group had great contributions to our share!  Then it was time for our surprise : special birthday cake Oreos for Mr. Best’s birthday!  Our delicious special snack finished, we headed out for round 2 of our day’s activities.  It was a pretty perfect day. 

Our activities done, we cleaned up camp, stored the remaining gear, packed up, and hiked back to the Canton Equestrian Center to meet parents.  Everyone was grinning and talking about how awesome the trip was….a lot of us decided it was our favorite Adventure Club trip ever. 

-Ms. Gordon-