It’s already the first week of July and it is only now that I finally am rested enough to have a modicum of perspective about the hectic crazy busy last month of school.
The annual five day camping trip to Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod requires a great deal of planning and preparation by the staff, since we are providing “room and board” at the campgrounds. This year more than thirty students came, and quite a few declared that they were going to sleep in hammocks rather than in their tents. OK, “why not,” I thought, except that the weather report predicted continuous rain, winds and cold temperatures for the first two days at least. I trust the kids and know that they are as aware as I am of the weather and thus they would make proper arrangements of tarps above them to protect them from the rain and keep themselves warm in their sleeping bags. But I was worried and anxious when all through the night the rain was pounding and the wind was howling and I was cold in spite of being in a tent, and having the appropriate gear. In the morning the kids were happy and cheerful and it occurred to me that the fun of camping is not about comfort, but is about problem solving which the problematic conditions supplied them with plentifully. All in all it was a very good trip with lots of fun and laughter and great interactions among all the participants.
On the last week of school Lauren and I had a sleepover at school; we call it the “overnight”, and this year there were twenty-five students who are not ready to go to Nickerson. It is a very exciting event for them because they get to stay at school after 5PM and play until it gets dark outside, eat pizza and ice cream, and sleep near their friends in the playroom (boys) and the dance room (girls). We hired three cool teenagers to help us and they, of course, invented fun games outside and scary stories after dark inside, to make this whole event exciting and a great adventure. The ages of the participants ranged from four and a half to twelve, but the astonishing thing to me was that they were a cohesive social gathering during the outside play and also the meals. For the meals, the staff rearranged the furniture in the sewing room, extending the existing table by adding other tables, removing all the big chairs and replacing them with the folding chairs from the dance room. This way, all 27 participants could sit and eat together. Actually, it was just like Nickerson in that respect, where kids of different ages and social groups who usually don’t interact much with each other on a day to day basis at school do so.
Yes, it is fun to have fun, and those trips are lots of fun indeed, but in addition they cement the sense that Sudbury Valley is a school for all ages of students who all belong to the same community, know each other and enjoy each others’ company no matter what age students or what particular group of students they spend most of their time with.