The image to the right is of a sand dune affectionately named, “Sand Mountain”. It wasn’t too far from where I grew up and around the fourth grade we would go take our inaugural hike of Sand Mountain. It was an annual field trip for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. We looked forward to it every year and I don’t understand why.
We would bus to the mountain, walk up the mountain, and then walk back down. That was it. The trip would be towards the end of the school year, right when it was getting hot outside.
I remember one occasion when one of my classmates brought a backpack squirt gun. It was really cool. That was the only hint of water I remember. I don’t think we brought water bottles and there certainly wasn’t any drinking fountains.
Some kids would roll down the hill. I tried that once, but didn’t like feeling of sand in every opening and crack of my body. I guess I wasn’t that motivated to get down. You would end up waiting in the bus for the slow pokes.
A field trip is supposed to be something fun and/or educational. Fun and/or educational. This was a massive pile of sand that was to be trenched up and down by the small Nike basketball shoes of pre-teenagers feet. It was exhausting. Some kids would stop halfway and turn back. It was the freaking desert. We didn’t have the time nor energy to do it more than once. Once was all you had in you. Someone this was fun.
We loved it. At least that was the general consensus. I remember wanting to go back to mountain the following year. Not immediately after the trip was over, but I do remember wanting to go back.
Now, the teachers could have taught us about the rare wildlife and insects that called this location home. Or how this sand dune came to be. Or even about dehydration and heat exhaustion, as we were experiencing it on school bus without AC. There was none of this educational experience. It was literally, “Get off the bus kids and see who can get to the top first!”
Looking at this from a teacher’s perspective this was an ideal “field trip”.
1) You are already tight on budget – there was no admission for this event, just bus gas.
2) It took a long time out of the day. No need to plan a lesson for a Friday.
3) Supervision was easy. If that is not readily apparent, I’ll remind you. It was the desert.
4) Exhaustion. The more tired the kids are, the easier they are to control.
5) The kids like it. Which seems absurd because of what I have described above. Tiring. No water. It was the freaking desert.
I guess I learned something. I never want to be stuck in the desert and bring a water bottle.