In October, we took about 30 middle schoolers to Orlando for a weekend of FUN. No homework, no projects, no phones (that was a new one…such a struggle). JUST FUN.
One of the reasons I really love this trip is because it helps the students bond with one another and hang out for three days. They build new relationships and it makes the transition for new students easier. We only had two 6th grade girls (some girls were a bit cautious about a weekend away from home that involved rollercoasters…completely understood), but those two girls were responsible for one of my favorite moments of the whole weekend.
On Saturday, we spend the day in Islands of Adventure. The students can roam the park with a friend or with a group with the condition that they make their two check-in times throughout the day. The first check-in time was before lunch so they could pick up their meal voucher. Most of the students were there at 11:30 on the dot and several of them had been traveling with the leaders. The two 6th grade girls though were running late. Not too late, maybe ten minutes? But still, I got a little worried. Mostly that they were lost or stuck in a line for some ride they weren’t quite sure they were ready for.
At about 11:40, two of the soggiest 6th graders appeared before me, shaking, but grinning from ear to ear. They both explained that they were sorry they were late, but they were busy riding Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls SIX times in a row. Um, that’s awesome. I wasn’t even mad.
It got me thinking about the first time I really got freedom to roam a theme park freely. I grew up as an only child, so it’s not like I ever went with my family and told my parents I’d meet them somewhere in a few hours while I would ride every ride I could. And not that the times I’ve been to a theme park I’ve had to go without riding what I wanted to (or having to ride something I didn’t want to, ahem…everything). So I put myself in their shoes (which were sopping wet for the next 7 hours we were there). I’m at Islands Adventure as an 11 year old and I have finally gotten the freedom I’ve always seen on every Disney Channel show on the air right now (like, do those kids even have parents?). What do I do?! RIDE RIPSAW FALLS SIX TIMES IN A ROW. Wet hair, don’t care…right?!
I love watching the choices that our students make on their own. It helps us understand what is really going through their mind. The truth is, yeah, they can seem pretty complicated, but at the end of the day sometimes they just want to ride their favorite ride six times in a row! And why not?
SIDE NOTE: Other favorite moment of the weekend? Taking the same group of students to DisneyQuest, a five story interactive arcade and finding two 7th grade boys in the lobby playing with a payphone. Seriously, dude? I could have taken you to a truck stop for that.