Day 6 – Horses, Laundry and Canyons

Sunday, June 10


Surprise! Surprise! You don’t get a good sleep when there’s 41 people in ONE ROOM! (sigh…yawn…zzzzzzz).

I am totally exhausted, but not without stories so all is good!

When we got to the Jasper Recreation Centre yesterday, they informed us that we weren’t staying in our typical downstairs rooms, but rather all together in the curling lounge! (surprise!)

So…after laying down some ground rules, we got ourselves established into gender specific zones, and then they (the students) unleashed THE FURY! Suitcases sprung open (think Jack in the Box, but without the part that attaches him to the box!). Clothes, shoes, iPods, laptops, hair straighteners, blow dryers, books, magazines, power cords….EVERYWHERE. I’m telling you it was so bad that I was actually concerned about their ability to get out in the case of an emergency! Getting out of the building in five minutes or less would have been no less impressive than Moses himself parting the sea!

“Students, I want to talk to you about our emergency protocol if something were to happen in the night. You are to leap over, crawl through, plow down whatever is in your way. Take nothing. Do not stop for your iPods, do not grab your hair straighteners and for certain do not, DO NOT turn back for the $120 shoes you bought yesterday (not that you’d fine both of them anyway!).

The place is a total zone, but they loved the chance to hang out and relax without the confines of hotel room walls!

Another first for this trip was this morning’s “no-wake-up-calls-allowed” zone. THe students were totally pumped to sleep in and sleep in they did! The first of the stirrers came to around 700 (I think it was Collin! Followed quite quickly by Colten!). I was actually quite impressed that a fair number of them played quietly on their devices rather than jumping on their nearest friend (which I was sorely tempted to do when I saw those two gals sleeping peacefully after my eyes popped open at 445 and would not shut again!). After laying there for about 30 minutes, I realized that I might as well get up and begin my day. This seemed like a good idea at the time, so I grabbed all my stuff and tiptoed out of the room.

During my tiptoe out of the room, I happened to notice a fair number of snorers (both young and old)! Later when I was chatting with Jim, he told me that his nickname for Pierre (spelled Pierrer in one of his son’s journals!) is Baby Bear (apparently for his light, unique snore!). A few hours later, when I got back from getting myself ready, making breakfast, organizing lunch, and cleaning up after last nights kitchen users (not us!) Pierrer was STILL SNORING! I couldn’t resist….I grabbed my iPhone, put on the voice recorder app and stood over his bed trying to record Baby Bear himself. As I stood there, getting an awesome blackmail-worthy recording, a thought occurred to me…..

“I’m standing over Pierre…… as he sleeps……


I left (without the recording – so don’t even ask for it)……

Jim ended up getting up around that time and so we worked together to get the breakfast ready for the students. We really outdid ourselves, and I think if you saw the pictures that you would agree it was quite commendable! Jim made some smokin’ fruit trays (with my expert fruit washing of course!). Jim also made a great cereal arrangement (I opened the boxes!) and he effortlessly tossed some yogurt containers into a large bowl (I showed him what fridge they were in!). So as you can see, we were quite the team!

All morning, we kept an eye on the skies, hoping that we wouldnt have to postpone or cancel our horse riding excursion. We went to Pyramid Riding Stables, where each student was fitted with a helmet and a horse!

There were a few nervous kids (think wringing hands, pacing and hesitation) but the stable crew had us up and going in no time. Students were broken into about 6 or 7 groups, each with an expert rider (my group had me, of course!). Once student and horse were paired, the group was quickly on its way!

Now I have to tell you that I had a fair amount of thinking on my horse ride, having chosen to not take part in Hayden, Troy, and Garrette’s ongoing discussion about horse flatulence and bowel movements (we were riding in a line after all so this was an obvious topic of discussion!). (sigh). Anyway, as we rode along, I found myself noting some obvious comparisons between horses and students. And it got me to thinking….

Horses are trained, students are educated. In my group, Troy’s horse tended to wander off the beaten path – we have students who tend to wander off the beaten path, Hayden’s horse seemed to have immediate and constant bathroom needs – we have students who are afflicted with that (typically during a Literacy or Numeracy period!), Garrette’s horse seemed to want to do his own thing – we have students who seem to want to do their own thing. Horses stand in horse pens – students sit in student desks. Horses are trained to obey – students teach their parents to obey. Horses and students, students and horses, who would have thought there would be so many similarities?

My question then, is obvious? Why can’t we tether them to their desks if the same system seems to work so well with horses in their pens? Just a thought….. (I am SO getting in trouble for that one…..)

While we went horseback riding, Pierrer stayed back and got the bonfire going. He had the fire ready when the students returned, and got them all cooking hotdogs and hamburgers within minutes. It was quite cold during the horse ride so this was a welcome treat upon return. For me, the welcome treat upon return was seeing a huge group of students laughing their heads off. They were playing Michael Finnigan, telephone, and story-chain. It was so awesome to see the joy on their faces, and hear the laughter filter throughout the area. Again, it is these moments that absolutely capture the essence of this trip! It was so great to see them interacting with students that they might not typically hang around with, joking and teasing as if they had been best friends all their life!

From horseback riding, we then went to do laundry. Now, here in this story, I will have to regrettably admit that the students SMOKED any other previous groups. They went in in an orderly fashion, put their laundry in without fighting, and made appropriate coin exchanges without embarrassing me with their math skills (or lack thereof). They were amazing (minus the part where I saw Hannah whip by me with Beth in the laundry cart!)! I have to say…..impressive. Now on that note, I’d just like to acknowledge that in my eyes (and opinion, and in the eyes of the general public) I’ve just taught your 35 children to do laundry! Again….impressive!

From laundry we grabbed the bus again and drove just out of Jasper to Maligne Canyon. If you’ve never been to Jasper, its totally worth looking up Maligne Canyon this morning (use google images). I personally consider it to be Canada’s version of the Grand Canyon, but better (duh!). It’s gorgeous, and spectacular. The students (most of them) were impressed. I’ve learned thought that apparently the majestic fury of nature’s carvings into the rock can’t compare with Brent’s Minecraft World. He informed me that, “Minecraft can simulate real life survival, mine for diamonds, and survive a 100 foot drop.”. We obviously cant compete with that!

The hike ended up being a bit long. Apparently Pierrer and his sidekick Reg-doesn’t-follow-directions-Plett thought that Mr. REid’s “just walk down the path for about 5 minutes” was really a more-or-less guideline (LESS!) for the walk. So………just to be clear on what happened at the falls yesterday, here it is in point note form.

1. Kelly went further than Chris did.
2. Pierre was lost.
3. Reg broke the record for furthest distance.
4. Nancy and I tended to medical needs.
5. Jim followed the directions.

After that fiasco, it was time for supper. Several chaperones had enough energy to take their kids out for supper. One chaperone had enough energy to go grab pizza for the two there’s-no-way-I-can-walk-another-step-and-if-you-make-me-there-will-be-tears chaperones. (less work for Jim, then dealing with my and Nancy’s tired tantrum!).

Before bedtime, Jim and I also accomplished yet another parenting milestone! We have taught each and every one of your children to meet their curfew. Curfew was 9:30 and they were ALL IN ON TIME! Impressive, I know! We’re always covering for you all!

So, then journals, bed and sleep (for some of them….we had a few talkers/gigglers last night). With a 6am wake up call, and a drive down the most beautiful highway of the trip, they needed to be awake (remembering the 2010 sleepers……. ).


PS – if your child has not talked to you yet (at all) please text me sometime tonight and I will have them call).

Trip Bylaw Appendix E

1. Purchase and bring Bose headphones that are guaranteed snore-proof!
2. Check with Rec Centre if we are sharing a room. If so, book the girls at Jasper Park Lodge.
3. Ask horse trainer to do some per-trip training on how to corral students.
4. Request security video from laundromat to show to next cohort how it’s done.


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