Three days and two nights with 55 twelve-year olds: Where do I sign up?

1 05 2011

Rincon de la Vieja: waterfalls, 6th graders, and FUN!

I love field trips.  Usually, when other teachers hear the words field trip most recoil in fear and have an instant headache. There’s something about the thought of taking a large number of pubescent pre-teens to a public place to “have fun” that causes nausea in most. Granted, field trips are hard and beyond exhausting, but to me they are one of the most rewarding and fun parts of my job. It is because of my love of field trips that my hand was one of the first and few that shot up when the staff was asked, “Who is willing to go on the class trip with the 6th graders?”. Three days at the northern most provence of Costa Rica with 55 twelve year olds, YES PLEASE!

The trip consisted of a five hour bus ride to Guanacaste, the “desert” of Costa Rica.We stayed right next to the national park, Rincon de la Vieja. Adventures Under the Sun (the program coordinators) had a very packed itinerary planned for us. We had three days and two nights to work with, and they made the absolute most of it. While there we hiked (a lot), saw boiling mud pots from a volcano, zip lined, lounged in hot springs, milked cows, and swam around a huge waterfall. Now that I write all of those things down, I realize how cool the trip sounds, but it doesn’t even come close to how awesome it turned out to be.

My small group of students,

The canopy tour: Tarzan Swing!

A student milking a cow. So so cool!

Baby Cow!

Mud Pots

Bridge crossings on one of the hikes

I have very little to measure this trip against. In Colorado, I coached and I took a few field trips with students to local places, but they just don’t compare to being outdoors with students overnight for several days. I learned so much about the people that they are, and they in turn learned so much about me. I could go on and on about the details of the trip and the fun I had, but it’s just too much and I wouldn’t be able to do them justice. I loved all of the planned and the unplanned time we had together.

The highlight of the trip was most definitely “the long hike”. A few weeks ago we were told there were two choices for hiking while on the trip. We could individually choose between a hike that is 2 kilometers long to a waterfall and swim or we could choose a 13 kilometer hike to another waterfall and swim. There wasn’t really a middle ground. I had heard that the long hike was to one of the coolest waterfalls in Costa Rica, and thus, my decision was made. We told the kids to only sign up for the long hike if they were sure they could make it. Out of 55 kids about 45 originally signed up. As the weeks progressed, names dropped off pretty quickly and we ended up only taking 30 on the long hike. 30 was a good number it turns out, because the hike was challenging, and the space was limited at the waterfall.

The long hike group ready to go!

The hike there was great. We went through rain forest and saw monkeys, bugs, and colorful birds. We also saw Costa Rica’s desert side which is not a very common sight to see. The kids told me jokes, we talked about life, and laughed at each other. When we got to the waterfall, I was impressed. I haven’t really been in a setting like that before. The path opened up to a huge waterfall with a giant pool below.

The amazing waterfall at the end of the long hike

Once we settled in, we were able to take our sweaty hiking clothes off and jump into the huge pool at the base of the waterfall. Shoes and bathing suits were required (of course).

Changing on the rock face

We swam around for awhile and some of the kids climbed behind the waterfall to check it out. After playing in the water, we had some snacks, reapplied our sunscreen and headed back to the bus. The hike back was much different. While on the way to the waterfall I had a large group of kids around me chatting and hanging out, on the way back, I had a core group of a few kids who whined a little, but were mainly quite and tired. I pushed them and reminded them that whining was not going to help… the coach coming out in me, I guess. When we made it back it was an amazing feeling. I knew that, for those kids, it was probably the longest and hardest hike they had ever done, and it was a huge accomplishment. I was so happy to be apart of that and it was such a good feeling to see the pride they had. You could see on their faces that this was a memory they would value for years and years.

After the long hike

I can see why some teachers stay away from field trips. It’s even taken me awhile to recover. Although I got back Friday, I still have a headache from being so busy, and yesterday, Miguel and I spent almost the day in our pajamas. But, if asked to do it again, I would say yes a thousand times over. This field trip was one of the most fun things I have done as a teacher and I feel so much more connected to my students because of it. I’m already dreading saying goodbye to these kiddos at the end of the year. I have grown so close to them and it will be quite hard for next years group to compare. I’m super excited about moving up to 8th grade, although, I worry that my standards have been set pretty high. However, I hear the 8th grade trip involves white water rafting, surfing, beach soccer, and feeding crocodiles…Ha! Can’t wait!





One response

4 05 2011

Thanks for sharing your field trip experience. I would think that some of your former teacher friends are a bit envious of such a trip. Enjoy – enjoy – enjoy!


Chico / Dad

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