I have a personal philosophy that kids should get out and experience MANY different aspects of life. My kids play sports (soccer, archery and tennis), participate in scouts, know how to behave in museums for kids, and for artists, and for history. They have watched belly-dancing, ballet, theatre, concerts, rock concerts and the Wiggles. They can eat in a 5 star restaurant and not turn up their noses if something doesn't sound familiar. I try really hard to apply this same philosophy to my students, and the girl scouts I mentor.
This week I had the opportunity to take my cadette girl scouts kayaking in Charleston, but there was work to be done as well. Some of these girls have been together since first grade. They told me when they were in 4th grade and I was a new "official" leader that they did not want to do anything that looked like school, nor were they very interested in crafts. They wanted to get out and do things, and do community service to help others. So that is what we've done. This week they started the paper chase for their silver award (a LOT of hoops to jump through to teach them to identify a problem in their community and solve it - with 40 hours of service.) Tuesday we met up with various women in business - a legislator, an event planner, an interior designer, and an entrepreneur who sells tartans. We then drove out to the lake house and finished a bunch of the paperwork related to badges and the career exploration.
The real fun started Wednesday morning. We drove out to Mt. Pleasant and rented kayaks to take out into Charleston Harbor. It was absolutely beautiful, warm but breezy. We paddled around Shem Creek where we saw dolphins, and then out into the open water with an island full of pelicans, and a sandbar where the kids looked for sharks' teeth. Our guide showed us a lot of natural treasures he had found kayaking or scuba diving like whale vertebra, a megladon tooth (cool), thousands of year old indian pottery etc. He even gave me some to take back to show my students. The girls were having fun, but the reality was that it was HARD to paddle against the currents, and I think it caught them off guard.
After kayaking we went to a local waterpark. The girls went down the slides endlessly and also checked out the lazy river. They were too old for the playground and the beach pool, but they spent HOURS on the slide and the lazy river.
We headed home for dinner and finished more paperwork, and talk sessions.
Thursday we got up for a different kind of kayaking trip. Instead of the "white water" of Charleston Harbor, we were in the black water of the Wadboo Creek near our lake house. The girls were apprehensive because I had assured them they wouldn't see any alligators at the lake house because they are mostly seen in the river and the swamp land, and here we were headed for the Creek that feeds from the swamp and then flows into the river. We met a different guide, who was a retired forester, and took off down the creek. The water was lower than it usually is because of a lack of a rain, but deep enough for the kayaks. About halfway up we hit a little current that the guide told us was a TON of fun to ride down if you could get up to the next landing about 3 miles up. It wasn't hard to paddle against, but with the water low there were a lot of down trees and other obstacles to paddle and pole around. The contrast between the open area of Charleston Harbor with pelicans and dolphins vs. the creek with dark black water, constant shade and the dark green trees everywhere was pretty amazing. The girls were fairly quiet - not because they were worried about gators, but because the whole setting seemed very reverent and warranted peace. Again about halfway we stopped on the side and stood in the mud, and the sandy creek bottom and enjoyed the cool water and rested. The current was fairly strong, but not dangerous because it was so shallow. Some of the girls exchanged kayaks (tandem vs. single) and we headed back. For some reason the girls paddled back quickly - probably because they weren't thinking the current was carrying them as quickly as it was, but we reached the landing about 30 minutes early, so we headed down to the part of the creek that eventually hooked up to the river - you know, the river with the gators in it. This was in deep contrast to the upper part of the creek that was so shaded, because this half was wider, and open to the HOT sun. After about two bends in the creek Big Al spotted a "log" - since she swims in the lake she knows what to look for - and she was right - it was a little gator that swam away from us, and eventually went under. I was proud of the girls because no one over reacted, they quikly realized that gators really DON'T want to eat people and try to avoid them 99% of the time. We saw another one a few bends later as well as many birds and a few turtles sunning on the logs. We headed back for the landing thoroughly exhausted.
Overall the girls had a great time and bonded quite nicely. They are super girls, and are really growing in to strong young women who can tackle anything. We have set them up for their Silver Award with only a couple small things still to do, and then they can each tackle the projects they choose. Big Al has a lot of thoughts on her project, and I will definitely be posting more here when she gets it all organized. Overall, the one thing I realized with all of the conversations I participated in with the girls, or overheard, was how Big Al has a lot of abilities, and I am incredibly proud of the young woman she is becoming.