Every website we consulted predicted thunderstorms, but we had already planned to spend Saturday out in the woods. With 170 students. It’s not easy to reschedule an event that size. So we handed out rain ponchos and kept our fingers crossed.
Luckily, Little Green students tend to be hardy souls, who fully expect to do field work in any kind of weather. They arrived wearing hiking boots and rain gear and big smiles. The winds were already whipping the treetops so furiously that we could barely hear each other. The thunderstorms veered north and south, just barely missing us, but we did get rain — first a steady, light rain that was enjoyable, and then a torrential downpour that caused laughing and squealing and a mad dash for cover.
The rain kept coming, but we somehow managed to keep all the events we’d planned. On the low ropes course, students climbed around on wires in the rain, their bright orange ponchos and bulky yellow raincoats adding to the challenge. Faculty members clad in rain ponchos led nature walks, students stomping through puddles as they went. The book discussion was a popular activity this year, as it was held in the dry enclosure of the yurt. The high ropes course is always the students’ favorite, no matter what the weather. Students happily tossed off their raincoats to put on harnesses and climb high into the trees.
By mid-afternoon, everyone was wet and muddy. Two of the mentors – that is, the older students who come to help out – asked me if they could make a fire. “Let’s make it a teamwork challenge,” I said. I looked around at the group of first-year students who had just returned from their nature walk. “Everyone! Go find tinder and kindling!” Some students went off into the woods, while others began scavenging through the garbage cans where we’d had our lunch.
Little Green students are good at this kind of thing – some of them have had wilderness survival training even – and soon we had a nice campfire going despite the rain. When the next group of students returned from the high ropes course, exhilarated and sopping wet, they clustered about the fire gratefully. Some removed their wet socks and began drying them over the flames, the way you might roast some marshmallows.
It was almost 7 pm before we loaded the students back onto the buses to go back to campus, but we all agreed that despite the weather, it had been a good day.