Training Chaperones and Chaperoning Students

Well, Day 1 was a resounding success with no major hiccups – yet ANOTHER example of my fine planning and meticulous attention to detail! 🙂

We got off to a good start with everyone arriving on time (Ruby kind of sauntered in, but apparently forces of nature were staging a war against them!). Kids lined up with suitcases, backpacks and sleeping bags. Yet again, I can’t help but be surprised that kids who can’t manage to fit their homework into their bookbags can bring entire bedrooms and cosmetic cupboards in one suitcase. It’s a marvel, really it is!

With goodbyes and hugs (and a huge round of applause from the parents for taking their kids for 11 days), we were off and on to the highway! Rumour mill has it that parents brought wine & wine glasses to toast our departure, but I adamantly said “I’m sure it wasn’t the whole group, rather just those Pakwash parents.” (They’re an unruly bunch if you don’t mind me saying!).

The first few hours were pretty rowdy with the kids’ excitement reminiscent of the times I’ve said, “Bonus gym period” (think chest bumping, high fives and spontaneous cart wheeling!). Me, though, I thought to myself, “I’m gonna die if they’re this loud the entire trip…”. Eventually, that died down and they settled into their iPods and iPhones. They were pretty quiet for the next little bit, until Kristy pulled out her Sweet Chili Heat Doritos. Add all that early excitement to a dose of “every man for himself”… It wasn’t quiet until the chips were all eaten and they settled back in their chairs to watch Kristy find crumbs on the ground so she could have a few chips for herself….

I told them, “Don’t bring snacks other kids like. Stick with tofu weiners if you don’t want to share!” But of course nobody listens to me…..

Dixie Lake was a sweet stop with the kids exiting the bus similar to the Running of the Bulls in Spain. We literally barely escaped with our lives…

After the fresh air, fruit, baking and juice we were back on to the bus and on our way to Adrenaline Adventures. During this phase of the trip, students started SINGING! To give them some credit, they had a smidge of harmony at the beginning (or was that just the bluetooth speakers I could hear). By the end, though, I was longing for screaching cats. They killed “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and butchered “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (I’m not even going to talk about what they did to “I Got a Feeling” (Black Eyed Peas) because it was nothing less than a travesty.). At one point, they were humming (and doing the actions) to the Chicken Dance. Chickens around the world immediately stopped dancing, it was that bad! 🙂

Adrenaline Adventures was fabulous! The kids had a great, great time – whether they were at the top, middle or on the ground! There was lots of encouragement and support for each other, celebrating the small and big accomplishments! Loved hearing it all and we’ve got some great photos to share with you!

Kudos and probably a monetary gift directed toward Lukas who acted as a counter weight when I needed a bit of help on the rope ladder (picture him pulling all the slack out of the rope ladder while I prayed for strength to miraculously appear in my arms….). I ignored the looks of worry and concern on his face and focused my mind on my inner champion (I distinctly remember placing third in shot put in high school so I knew I had something inside me!). Our partnership resulted in me getting up over the beam and into his celebratory high fives and hug of encouragement! Just kidding!!! He was more like, “Can I go now?”

A huge BONUS as we finished up at Adrenalin Adventures when their former classmate (ALIYA!) pulled up! She was enroute to hockey practice and saw us there, promptly pulled in and was greeted as if it was a bonafide celebrity sighting (picture something like a Kardashian pulling up at WalMart). Which in a way it was! All the kids remember how I outlawed mentioning her name in September because the mere words, “Aliya Baker” threw everyone into a fit of loneliness and despair! It took a long time for us to get used to “Us Without Aliya” which is how we have referred to the time since she moved! 🙂

From there, we were enroute to Brandon, supper at Marino’s and then Motel 6. Kids were tired from Adrenaline Adventures and wanted to sleep. Mostly though, they visited and chatted with their friends and new friends. We’re already seeing kids who don’t typically hang out at recess visit together in their bus chairs! It’s amazing how popular a kid can be when he’s the only one left with battery power on his device! 🙂

A quick mention of our parent chaperones. Apparently, APPARENTLY there is some kind of fear of what I might say about them online…. (unfounded paranoia if I’ve ever seen it!). I’m pretty sure Josee and Dave have had some planning meetings apart from the mandatory debriefings Jen and I had them go through. They’ve been working together and functioning well as a part of the team. They seem prepped and even somewhat confident. I’m suspicious they’re up to something and plan to keep an alert eye on them. I’m thinking, though, that they might have an agreed upon plan on how to survive this trip…. (see photos below and let me know if you agree!).

I must say, though that if this keeps up, chaperone training will go a lot better than in previous years!

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