I went on a class trip today with the Grade 5/6’s.
“In 1973, the Ska-Nah-Doht Village, located within Longwoods Road Conservation Area, was constructed. It features a village reflective of the Native settlements found along the river close to 1,000 years ago. This village, created with the information gathered by archaeologists and First Nation peoples, offers tours, workshops and an opportunity to see how First Nations people once lived.”
We made and decorated bowls from clay, sat in a longhouse, listened to our tour guide describe how important deer were to the native people, and saw the trees that these folks used so well. Very cool.
But the best was being out and about with the kids. On a break, I followed about fifteen of them along a road. Down a little trail, we spied a pedestrian bridge spanning a shallow ravine. The sign said “Maximum 40 adults”. No sweat. Soon we were all on the bridge, with the wood bouncing under our feet. Great fun!
And then the question … Should I have allowed the kids to walk onto the bridge? My answer – a resounding “yes”. They had great fun and it was safe. And the smiles were huge.
Later in the day, there was another opportunity to explore. Maybe 20 kids this time. A trail wandered through the sparse woods and soon we were at another hanging bridge, this one twice as long as the first. Sadly, no bouncibility this time. Five kids asked to climb down some steps towards a pond. I said yes and watched their progress from the bridge, along with the remaining children. One girl had found a 10-foot branch on the ground and recommended I use it as a walking stick. So I awkwardly did, to the amusement of many.
A few folks wanted to break off some pieces of ice from the bridge and toss them into the ravine below. I had them make sure there were no beings down there and then said “Go for it!” More fun. The kids who were near the pond climbed the hill beyond and joined us at the far end of the bridge. Then it was time to go back.
Should I have been more cautious? Should I have kept them off the bridge? Should I have said no to the group who wanted to go near the pond? Should I have said no to plummeting lumps of ice? Well … I said yes. Fun. Safe. I was watching.
And then the day ended. We were back at the school with about 15 minutes to home time. I was supervising 10 kids on the schoolyard. Behind the Grade 5/6 portable was a circular patch of ice, about 40 feet in diameter. The kids wanted to slide. My answer was to head gingerly onto the ice and start floating along. Right away, there was a line of 12-year-olds, soon zooming over the glassy surface. Squeals of delight. Bodies flopped every which way on the ice. I loved it!
The small voice inside my head urged me to be aware of liability, school rules, angry parents. Be careful. The big voice retorted with fun, smiles and joy. Be out there! I voted for door number two. The kids deserved it.