We just came back from Disneyland last Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. I chaperoned on the eighth-grade field trip. It is the one where we leave school at 10:30 p.m. on Friday and return around 6 a.m. on Sunday. Yes, we sleep on the bus. (I should say, they sleep on the bus. I didn't sleep much.) Thank goodness it's Spring Break! I'm tired.
We stopped at a Hometown Buffet in Buena Vista, a stone's throw from Disneyland, and ate. The 70 or so kids we took filled several plates of meat, eggs, cinnamon rolls, etc. It was as if they had never eaten in their lives. Everyone used the bathroom to change; some kids even brushed their teeth! The girls did what 13 year old girls do best: they primped...combed their hair and put makeup on and dressed in provocative clothing. I reminded several girls that it was probably cold outside, but they ignored me. We got on the bus again and arrived at Disneyland at 8:30 a.m.
Our Activities Director had us so organized, no room for doubt existed. We were the purple team. I handed out tickets, exchanged cell numbers with the worried and reminded them all to see me in front of Cinderella's castle at 3 p.m. And we were off!
This time I had several kids who chose to hang out with me and and another chaperone. These kids had never been, so I figured after they got their bearings, they'd be off on their own. It didn't happen. Our group just grew throughout the day. A couple of kids didn't bring enough money for food. Others spent it all on souvenirs early in the day. We bought lunch or dinner for several of those kids. What could we do? It was a long day.
I found myself pointing out the free water spigots and getting everyone to refill water bottles. We ate everything bad for us we could find. We laughed a lot. And when it started raining it was time to go back to our bus, our mother ship.
As I checked in my team, I asked them all what they enjoyed the most about their day. The responses were fun: princesses (from the 14 year old boys), feeling free to do what they wanted (no parents to tell them "no"), and sitting out of the rain. We arrived in the school parking lot a little wiser. The kids were tired, but more confident about themselves. I was heartened about the future of our community. I am glad to know this group of kids. They see the world differently. I like them for it.