A couple of weeks ago I went on a short camping trip in Chelsea, Alabama. If you know me well you probably never thought you’d ever read about me going on a camping trip. It’s not that I’m a spoiled, high maintenance princess, but I’m certainly not one who jumps at the chance to sleep on the ground and live without a shower or mirror.
The students at my school all go on a themed-retreat each year and I happily volunteered to serve as a chaperon for the 10th grade retreat. This was before I found out the 10th grade retreat was a camping trip. But my pride wouldn’t let me back out after discovering I wouldn’t actually have a bed during this retreat.
Because 10th grade is typically the most difficult year for students at my school, the theme for the 10th grade retreat is perseverance. The retreat was designed to push the students out of their comfort zones from sleeping outside to trying a variety of activities such as rock wall climbing. Being a chaperon for this retreat, however, pushed me out of my comfort zone as well, which was just what I needed.
Though I did some teaching at Berkeley, teaching high school has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone. On tough days a part of me wants to return to full-time writing, because that’s what I know best, but the retreat showed me the rewards of perseverance.
Because I decided to tough it out I had the opportunity to spend invaluable time with my students having meaningful conversations around the camp fire. And those kids had me laughing until my belly ached as they sang old school R&B songs to prove to me they knew real music. Can you believe they knew everything from SWV to Earth, Wind and Fire?!
Much to my surprise, sleeping on the ground with nothing but a thin tarp to protect me from the late night and early morning rain was no big deal and when I awoke the next morning I could declare that I had actually gone camping. Later, despite my inability to swim, I bravely hopped into a canoe and a kayak and paddled my way across a beautiful lake.
(Side note: One of the counselors on the trip said she saw a opossum walk by our makeshift tent in the middle of the night. I HATE OPOSSUMS! When I get to heaven, the first question I plan to ask God is why he created those things. Fortunately, I did not see that gigantic rat walk by my head or this would be a very different blog post.)
Overall I had a great time and if I had punked out I would have never had this experience. So no matter how challenging teaching may be, I won’t punk out of this either because I am confident that more great experiences are on the horizon.