- Bus Driver. During my internship with Orem High’s Unified Studies program, back in my student teaching days, Sid and Cheryl emphasized the importance of finding a good bus driver. Experience has emphasized the wisdom of their insights. A bus driver can make or break a trip. We had a good bus driver.
AMENDMENT: We have a great bus driver. Back by popular demand, Doug Vernieu is our man. This is our third trip with Doug. The first thing I do after scheduling a campground is request Doug as our driver. He hiked with us, he swam with us and he did not yell at us when we tracked sand (LOTS of sand) on the bus. He discussed dystopic literature with Talyn, classic rock with Jack, and traumatic teaching stories with me. He took a school bus places no school bus has ever been before—we love the dropped-mouth, incredulous-eyed stares we get when people see a school bus on back country roads—and he turned a 50 foot bus around on a cliff edge next to a sign that says “No recommended for vehicles over 25 feet”. The man is amazing.
- Adults. When taking students on a field trip is a wise to have a few adults scattered in the crowd. If nothing else (and with some adults, it is nothing else), having a few mature bodies in the crowd gives the trip an air of legitimacy. We had good adults.
- AMENDENDMENT: We had some great adults, seriously great. Strong (very), sarcastic (more than slightly) and spunky (off the charts) Talyn--my OPA compatriot--is a perfect trip buddy. Kim—everyone’s favorite mom, Bill—the nondiscriminatory helper-of-everyone, and Scott—a.k.a “The Lone Ranger”, have all tripped with me before and I hope they will trip with me again and again and again.
- Students. Field trips without students are decidedly flat ….and this was NOT a flat field trip. Field trips with bad students are decidedly awful…and this was NOT an awful field trip. It was, in fact, a good field trip. We had good kids.
- AMENDMENT: We had great kids. Seriously great kids. They got up when I sang to them in the early morning hours and did not ask me to sing to them in the late evening hours. They cooked for themselves and cleaned up after themselves. They let me be their foot doctor and did not make me want to see a head doctor. In fact, they were very good for my heart. “Thank you Mrs. Hislop for doing this for us” was a commonly repeated phrase.
- Agenda. It helps to have a good agenda. The point of most field trips is to go someplace interesting. We had a good agenda.
- AMENDMENT: We had a great agenda: Red Rock Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons in the Grand Staircase National Monument, Lower Calf Creek Falls, Box Death Canyon…..Nature at her finest. “This is a field trip?” said one hiker as he passed our group, “Man! The only field trip I went on was to a crayon factory.”
- Good times. A field trip to a crayon factory may be fun. A field trip to southern Utah should be more fun. Having not been to a crayon factory, I cannot speak (or write) to that but I can (and will) address our fun factor. We had a good time.
- AMENDMENT: We had a great time. After squeezing through the slot canyon—only 10 inches wide is some places—Yvette said she’d had her mammogram for the year. Ted asserted that licking mosquito bites made them stop itching. “It is science,” he claimed. He got a very funny look on his face when challenged to test his “science” on Kate’s arm. Lois and Britton found a spider in their tent. They screamed and screamed and screamed for someone to come to the rescue. No one heard them. Hard to say whether they were more traumatized by the spider or by fact that no one came to their rescue.
- Health. When hiking and camping, good health is a good thing. The Sunday evening before the trip started I was in an urgent care facility seeking help for knock-me-on-my-back flu symptoms caused by microbial infections from two different phylogenic kingdoms. I was back on my feet Monday but not back on my game. Wednesday my body decided it was on my team again and it was all good from there.
- Bonus. Every trip should have a bonus and my bonus was Miles. I had to bride him with fishing and cold cereal to get him to come and it was well worth the price. I seriously enjoy having him along. I think he seriously enjoyed it too. “I hiked 8 miles and did not complain once,” he said. Miracles happen.
Miracles happen. Yes they do. Though it may not be a miracle in the traditional sense, being able to spend a week in the wilderness with a fabulous group of people definitely borders on the miraculous. It is certainly a tender mercy. I thank my God, literally and sincerely, for the opportunity to do so. Thank you, dear Father. Thank you.