(Do I mean the middle school students or the actual butterflies in the forest? It did seem at times like we were in the middle of a butterfly display at the zoo.)
Sorry for the gap in writing recently. We’re in the last week of school now and it’s been hectic between the friends who are moving away, the friends who are moving to new apartments, and all the end of school activities.
The most absorbing of the end of school activities was the annual middle school trip to Camp Taiwan. We signed up long ago to be chaperones for this three day trip. It was Vickey, Chris, Dan, and myself (plus the experienced camp staff) trying to get 35 flitting 6th, 7th, and 8th graders moving in the same direction.
Like all good camps, this one ran the kids hard with plenty of new activities. The first night they were still hard to settle down, but the second night they were fast asleep (or at least too tired to talk above a whisper) by lights out. That would have meant a good night’s sleep for me, but the cicadas around my tent started at 4am. I was up and dressed for the day by 4:30. While that did mean that I had several hours of peaceful alone time (which I desperately needed), it was a bit of a problem when I had finished my book the night before and all the writing material was in Dan’s tent in the boys’ camp. Contemplation in a sub-tropical rain forest is good for the soul, but I made sure I had a book for the second morning.
Once again walking with a cane gave me an advantage. All the mountains in Taiwan are steep so the paths in the camp are also steep and often had rough stone steps with only a rope as a handrail. I just don’t have firm enough footing to handle those steps. Fortunately there was a girls’ campsite that was more accessible so I stayed there with the 6th and 7th grade girls while Vickey took the 8th grade girls at the lower camp. The camp staff took me to the different activity sites by air conditioned car. I tried to not flaunt my good fortune.
Most of the activities involved rock climbing harnesses and helmets. The kids really became quite skilled at helping each other with the harnesses.
The students hauled each other up a giant tripod and swung out over the valley, climbed a wall, jumped off a platform on a zipline, walked up a river and jumped off big rocks into swimming holes, went kayaking in the ocean, and even tried their hands at archery (which mostly involved searching over the hill for the arrows that missed the target – there’s some work to do here).
The food at camp was good and the tents were “roughing it” comfortable (although the electric lights and fan were both disconcerting and welcome). This amount of living with nature was a stretch for some of these city-raised kids, but they got to the point where they wanted to watch what the big spider did with the moth that flew into its web instead of running away screaming. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a success.