Friday, March 14, 2008

Hanging With the Girls in Gold Country

Last week I went on a three-day, two-night field trip with my middle son's fourth grade class. Fourth graders in California study California history, so what better place to go than the site of the discovery of gold in 1849? Yes, all the fourth graders, two teachers, and six parent chaperones went to the spot where James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill in Coloma California.

My son is privileged to go to a school that participates in the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School, a non-profit program whose mission is "to foster environmental stewardship, community and individual responsibility through dynamic, integrated learning in an outdoor setting." It is a fantastic program, and the website describes very well all the activities that go on so I won't repeat them.

For some of the fourth graders, this was their first trip away from home, and nerves were running high as we waited to leave that morning. I must admit my nerves were a little on edge as well. You see, I was not going to spend three days with my son. I was going to chaperone seven girls. Of course my son was there with us, but he was being chaperoned by a dad, who by the way has one child, a girl. Now that I think about it, he might have been more nervous than I was, or at least he should have been.

I was nervous because as ridiculous as it may sound, I am no longer used to girls. I mean, I grew up one of three girls, and I am a girl, but I am not around them very much. I felt like I was out of touch with the girls. Did I have to know anything about Hannah Montana?

Girls in my group

At the least, I thought, I would have a lot to write about on my blog about the difference between boys and girls. It turned out that there were not nearly as many differences as I thought there would be. Yes, the girls in my group cried a bit more than the boys. There was a crazy kind of contagious teary homesickness thing that started late in the evening on the first night. One of my girls got sad and started crying at the square-dancing hoe down. As I was comforting her, another of the girls noticed the tears and started tearing up herself. Although she is nearly as tall as me, I had her sitting on my lap. Then, another girl noticed what was going on and didn't want to be left out either. Luckily, the teacher also noticed what was going on and came to help out. All was soon calm. The teacher checked to make sure I was okay, and I told her if I started crying, then there was a problem.

As it turns out, the crying was pretty much the only difference between the boys and the girls. Some girls snore just as loud (or louder) than boys. Their clothing was everywhere in the cabin. They couldn't find their socks. They didn't want to shower or comb their hair. They whispered for a while before falling sound asleep (ok, the boys apparently had a massive pillow fight before falling asleep). They woke up in the morning and immediately began discussing what was for breakfast, EXACTLY like my son would do.

Girls in my group held hands out of friendship. Boys this age do not hold hands very often.

I really enjoyed being one of the girls, instead of the only girl. It was a lot of fun. And by the way, knowing something about Hannah Montana would have been helpful, but not absolutely necessary.

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