This writing is overdue and yet essential, as I cannot seem to keep my thoughts from my time spent with an incredible group of teenagers.
In September, my fifteen-year-old daughter phoned me to see if I could alter my schedule and accompany her and the rest of her classmates, on a Grade 10 camping trip. When a teenager asks an adult to be present with them, it is of utmost importance to do just that and so… without any hesitation, I cancelled two other engagements, packed a bag, put food together and joined them.
I had a few reservations that did not involve camping in snow and cold, but I had heard that this particular group of teens had some strong characters that had been in a few predicaments. A couple of parents had warned me about a few specific kids, as well as situational details. What I discovered, however, contradicted all of these stories. There is no question that this group has some diverse and strong individuals, and… well… isn’t that a good thing?
I have always seen social misbehaviour in young children as a call out for action from a caring a positive adult, and wondered what could cause a teen to behave in a rude or violent manner, and I wondered how I would handle a teen, not my own, who called for my care and attention.
My initial anxiety was quashed immediately upon arriving at the adventure camp, when a young student walked off of the bus, with her arms spread up and out and her head looking towards the sun saying, “Everywhere I look, I see beauty.” It was then that I knew I needed to journal while I was with these young people.
Under the utmost capable supervision and mentorship of their Physical Education Coach, they unloaded the bus, set up tents and the rest of their camp, and headed off with two camp leaders to wall climb. I smiled warmly as they encouraged each other, including a few students who were unsure of taking part in the activity. This may sound like quite a rambling but here goes - One student commented on another student’s remark towards a fearful student, who did not want to try the climbing wall, reminding the initial student that said student was afraid of heights. “Oh ya.” was the remark from the first student. And the commenting was over, with no defending from the height fearful one. For those three days, the students continued to support and surround each other with acceptance and friendship and as a group of young people, I was in awe of how diverse each student was, and yet how supportive they were of each other.
Their Phys. Ed. Coach is in tune with this age group and knew that they needed to come together as a collective at the start of the school year, learning that they indeed belong with each other, and she asked them to demonstrate their maturity and collective skills in order to work in harmony to become a valued community in and of themselves.
I am in admiration of each person on the camping trip, and will continue to offer my assistance as a supervisor for any future adventures together, remembering how important it is to notice goodness while honouring individualism.