Friday, October 16, 2009

...and Mrs. Ozone, who was not in our group chaperone picture

From our NC Scrapbook!

Last Day :( ...October 16, 2009

Before each meal, the NC staff invites 3 children in the upstairs dining area/3 more in the downstairs area to offer a "positive share". These are excerpts from this morning's positive sharing:

"I got to hold a shark's eyeball."

"I got to play lots of nocturnal games."

"I learned a lot, like how Cape Cod is disappearing!"

This morning after breakfast, one of our fifth graders, new to our school this year, commented to me, "I'm sad to be leaving today." That about sums it up..We've had a fabulous week, in spite of the raw rainy weather we've had mid-yesterday into today.

THANK YOU to all parents and guardians who helped the children pack waterproof footwear/boots and raincoats/ponchos...EVERYTHING got worn and was greatly appreciated!
(If a child didn't have a rainproof jacket, to quote Mr. Griffin, "No worries!" If wet weather coats weren't sent down - plastic garbage bags were the fashion statement for many!

Yesterday's predator/prey game was a trememndous success. Many of the kids named it as their favorite activity for the week!

Afternoon class choices were: making and launching water rockets (for those who didn't do them previously),shark dissection (!), Viking explorers (complete with their original horned hats!), garden ecology (especially earthy in the rain!),camouflage/stalking game, Rube Goldberg Machine inventing (simple machines), endangered eggs (endangered species activity), fungus among us (Your kids ATE all the Portabella mushrooms they cooked!), or starfish dissection.

Lunch: pasta Alfredo (or without sauce) and cooked broccoli, plus the usual salad bar, sunflower butter/jelly (etc) options.

Dinner: fried chicken legs, mashed potatoes (with/without gravy) and frosted yellow cake for dessert.

After each meal the NC teachers provide about 10 minutes of sing-along entertainment and last night's could not be held in the usual outdoor spot due to the pouring rain, so the creative alternative was a rousing version of Upstairs/Downstairs (in the dining hall) "Chicka-boom", which the kids thought was hilarious!

After-dinner classes were held from 7 'til 8:30: constellation mapping (indoors on overhead projector due to the weather), "grossology" (Ask your favorite fifth grader about that one!), shark dissection (for those who missed out earlier),Glow-Ab Ex (day-glo abstract spatter painting), owl extravaganza (owl pellet dissection: learn about owls/mice as predators/prey),
"planetary cosmology" ("search for alien life"), nocturnal critters, "teatime" over the open (very smoky!) campfire, or astronomy.

After our final nighttime quiet, sing-a-long in the "Leoj" (the nice, dry multi-purpose building built by a man named "Joel" from Camp Wingate-Kirkland, where we've been all week), it was time for our last informal "class", PACKING 101, which was completed this morning with the sleeping-bag challenge (roll 'em, tie 'em, make 'em fit!).

Thanks to Fitz, our heaviest luggage was collected by him with a pick-up truck and driven to an indoor building to wait for the busses, while the more lightweight plastic bags and backpacks were hand-carried by the children to the same place.

By then, it was 8:00 and time for our last breakfast - sausage, homefries, scrambled eggs..and our usual optional choices. The kids then headed out with the NC staff to do thorough bunk cleaning and to enjoy a final field group activity.

Soon, our NC week will come to a close...Lunch will be a quick pizza lunch. The busses are already here; by noon we'll be on the way back to Foxboro...

One last positive share from this morning at breakfast:
"I had lots of fun and made a bunch of new friends"

Thanks to everyone back home and at school who mde Nature's Classroom 2009 possible!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day #3 - October 15, 2009

It dawned chilly(40's?) and overcast, even though there was a hint of pinky orange in the eastern sky at 7 a.m. The lake is a glassy mirror, reflecting the early Cape foliage rainbow, and there are three white mounds floating out there; actually they're swans with their heads tucked under their wing to keep warm!

Everyone was glad to have followed Fitz's advice to layer on as many pieces of warm clothing as possible after dinner yesterday...The kids' array of hats, gloves, and even scarves that were donned for the Night Hike kept them comfortable for their evening adventure...and a good night's sleep was had as all prepared for today's full day of activities.
Breakfast's main selection was French toast and scrambled eggs, plus the usual additional offerings (See previous blog entry!).

At the moment, the entire group of over 100 kids is wrapping up their gigantic tag game of Predator/Prey. Prior to heading out to all corners of the campus, the staff engaged our FRCS 5th graders in a simulation of the food chain (a la sun, plants, plankton, fish, seals, orca). Then everyone used their randomly distributed my-place-on-the-food-chain assignment cards to form groups to be led by individual NC teachers. For the past hour the shouts of "look out" and "Get 'em" filled the air, while running feet stomped, and bushes swished as they ran past (I'm bundled in three layers sitting here on the deck outside the health office, the only area for wireless Internet access!). They'll do a half hour wrap-up to review what they learned before the bunk chaperones meet them at 11:30 for a brief transition time before lunch at noon.

The very first day here (Was that only 2 days ago?)when the children met with Fitz, he advised them to "live in the moment" and not ask about what would be coming up next in the day's schedule. So, you, too, will have to wait to hear about what we're doing down here, too!

In the meantime, I coerced the remaining bunks into staying still long enough for bunk photos this morning. Hopefully, everyone will have spotted their favorite camper(s) by the time you finish perusing them.

[We made the mistake of checking online for a weather report - Please "wish away" the predicted storminess for us!]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day #2 - October 14, 2009

Everyone slept well, including our first time "campers"!

It was a beautiful autumn day on Cape Cod! After pancakes and bacon (plus options including fresh fruit, coffee cake, dry cereal selection, or toasted mini-bagel) for breakfast, we trekked back to the bunks to pack daypacks for our outing to Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham.

It took us a little over a half hour to get to the Visitor's Center by school busses, and then our fifteen field groups headed out in separate directions to explore the wind-blown salt marsh and wonderful sand beach at the seashore, framed with federally-protected sand dune cliffs. It was mostly a sunny day with the sky turning bright blue and dotted with puffy white clouds by the time we unpacked picnic bag lunches (choice of tuna, turkey, bologna/salami, or sunflower butter/jelly sandwich, with chips and an apple.

A little more time was spent making discoveries before we arrived back in camp about 2:30. During transition time, everyone chose their own "down time" activity - soccer, basketball, visiting with friends, playing games brought from home, journal writing...or whatever...all with adult supervision, of course.

We went to afternoon classes from 4 to 5:30 p.m., having chosen either geodome building (thank you, Buckminster Fuller!), turtle dissection, Burma bridge (rope-bridge building), weavology, pond biology, atlatl and other Native American games, Hot Air Balloons (out of tissue paper...and they really soared HIGH!), (sheep) eyeball dissection, or Tree (identification) Tag.

T-time before dinner was a quick trip to the bunk for a bathroom break (and cleaning up, as needed, from classtime). We were pleased that after our dinner of meatball subs, corn, and Hoodsies (or eggplant parmesan for the vegetarians among us!), our ORT total dropped from 45 lbs at breakfast (mostly leftover liquid at 8 lbs per gallon!) to 21 lbs. Translated, that means our kids are paying more attention to only taking what they will actually eat and drink, even when second servings (and salad bar) are available.

As I'm writing, our FRCS adventurers are experiencing the nighttime in a whole new way - with guidance from their field group leaders and participating chaperones, without the use of flashlights at all. This is Night Hike, which I LOVED when I went last year. There's nothing Halloween-y about it, nothing to be scared of, no one jumping out to surprise them...The children will be quietly (we hope!) listening to the sounds of the night in the woods and in open fields, learning about how the human eye (with the help of the brain's efforts, of course) adjusts so miraculously to the lack of light, to be able to "see" in the dark.
I can't wait to hear their reactions and to see if anyone writes about it in their journals.

In the blog that follows, I will post a few more pictures!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bunk Photos...More to Follow tomorrow!

Unloading the busses

Ready for our run-around time!

Day #1 has been AWESOME!

Our three busses left school at 8:30, the rain traveled along with us down to Yarmouthport, but it had stopped by the time we pulled into camp at 9:55. What a scream the kids let out as we pulled in! Everyone pitched in to unload the busses, bucket-brigade style, after which the 11 Nature's Classroom teachers rounded up our fifth graders for some running-around games that helped get the blood moving again after the bus ride.

Next, everyone got cabin assignments and had just enough time to make up their bunks before an all-camp fire/emergency drill at the basketball court. ("Listen for the man-made triple signal!")
The children then met with NC director, Fitz, while field group leaders met with all 11 chaperones and the four fifth grade teachers for an info session.

LUNCH was well received by our hungry, hungry group--- peppered chicken, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, and Spanish rice with tortillas for burrito wraps! Sunflower butter/jelly was available for those who wanted it, plus THE BEST salad bar, too!

Every one of our 15 tables has a "waitron" assigned for each meal; actually the kids signed up as volunteers to take turns for the various meals throughout the week. Ask your favorite fifth grader about the privileges...and responsibilities, of being the waitron! Oh, and don't forget to also inquire about ORT [amount of wasted food :( ] and the ORT report that is sung after each meal by the waitrons.

We all got soaked by the surprise arrival of an autumn shower during after-lunch announcements outdoors...but nothing a change of clothes (and a hair dryer blast) wouldn't fix, before heading out to our next activity....and by then, the rain had stopped.

There was a brief transition (T-time) before afternoon field group time during which the children spread out all over camp for various team-building and cooperation activities. During that time everyone signed up for an afternoon class: feed your face (oatmeal facials, etc), water rockets (complete with super-launching!), clay, pig dissection (ayup!), FROLF (frisbee golf), "Oh, chute!" (parachute making), survival skills (fire building and shelter-making), or insect (GIANT grasshopper) dissection.

Another short t-time and then it was back to the dining hall for a dinner of kid-friendly burgers, fries, SALAD BAR, and frosted chocolate cake or fresh fruit.

Tonight's activity was finishing up as I began this posting. It was called Science Fair and Quest, beginning with an NC teacher skit, followed by hands-on experiment stations to which all the kids rotated for 10 minutes at a time ---very cool and quick enough to keep everyone's interest high.

Now is when the fun starts for the chaperones - getting everyone to settle down to write in their journals, shower (if they're on the "night" rotation") and have lights out at a reasonable time, whatever that is!

It's been a full, busy first day...Your children are fabulous!!!!!

I will attempt to attach a couple of pictures, though I'm not sure how or if they will post. One of the parents here will be trying to set up a Shutterfly access for many more photos, and I will include the link info as soon as I have it.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Just 3 weeks 'til Nature's Classroom 2009!!!

If you are reading this blog page, CONGRATULATIONS for successfully logging on!

Please remember that all forms and balance of the $262 fees is due this Friday, September 25.

Rest assured that FRCS will do everything possible to facilitate EVERY fifth grader being able to participate! Please email your child's homeroom teacher if you have questions or concerns. (Mrs. Olobri, whose email name hasn't yet been updated)

Tuesday, September 22, the whole fifth grade will gather for an assembly all about our exciting week at Nature's Classroom, with a special visit by the NC site director we affectionately know as "Fitz"! Don't be surprised if your child comes home overflowing with chatter about the plans!