Learning while Scavenging

Today I led a scavenger hunt for the very first time. It was part of the Job Carr Cabin Museum‘s school field trip program. Me, a muddy park, ten objects hidden in plain view, and sixty third graders. Quite the adventure.

The kids were great, without exception, excited and happy to be there (or at least to be on a field trip) and very gung ho. The parent chaperones were fantastic, too. The two teachers were a striking example of the teacher dichotomy I’ve run up against in the past. One was extremely organized, involved, and on top of things. The other, to put it kindly, was not. It showed in the kids’ behavior and in how much attention they paid to what they were supposed to be learning. And in how hoarse I was at the end of each hunt, I’m afraid (I was offered a bullhorn before the program began – it was definitely a mistake not to have taken the education director up on it).

The rest of the program was fascinating. The museum hired a local actor to play one of our early pioneers. This time around it was Ezra Meeker, and the actor started the program as himself and gradually transformed into Ezra at the end of his life as the program progressed, adding a beard and a wig, a stoop and a quavering accent, antique glasses and a cane, explaining each (and bravely handing about several pairs of antique glasses, which, I was relieved to see, made it safely back to him when he was finished). You could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium (the museum borrows a room in the Slavonian Hall down the street – an enormous turn-of-the-last-century building), quite the accomplishment with that many children. He told some wonderful stories, too.

Once we were back at the cabin, the group split up and half went inside for music and stories, and the other half stayed outside with me – I was very grateful for our continuing unseasonably springlike weather, because it could have just as easily been pouring. Or snowing. I didn’t get to hear much of what went on in the cabin, except for the occasional sound of a dulcimer during lulls in the shouts and excitement, which was lovely.

The children hunted for the objects and cheered when they found them, and played button, button, who’s got the button, which was a much bigger hit than I would have expected, and I hope a good time was had by all.

I certainly learned something about myself today. I have horrible stage fright. I always have. I drove to the museum this morning asking myself how I’d gotten into this, my stomach in knots.

When I left, it wasn’t just with muddy feet and a hoarse voice. I had learned that what I thought I’d always known about myself just might not be true anymore.

I had an absolute ball. I’m still astonished at how easy it was to talk to thirty kids and six adults all at once without knocking a single knee. And I want to do it again. I never thought I’d say something like that about something like this.

Even with muddy feet.

So, that’s my epiphany for this week. What was yours?