My time in chapel today with the Middle School students at Dayton Christian was so encouraging to me. As I started sharing about the hike via a PowerPoint presentation that I had put together, one student’s questioning hand was raised about slide 6 (out of 19 slides). I immediately stopped my monolog and allowed the student to ask the question. “How long does it take you to set up your tent?” I responded that it usually takes 15 minutes but if it is raining I can do it in 6. Spontaneously, an additional dozen hands flew into the air and I could tell that the students were genuinely engaged. I side stepped the raised hands and shared with the students that I would have a time of Q/A at the end and that the rest of my presentation might answer some of their questions. I always have a great time sharing about the Appalachian Trail – I cannot image what I am going to be like once I actually hike it!
I quickly moved through the rest of my presentation and ended up with about 10 minutes for questions. Again a dozen hands went into the air. All of the questions were insightful and solid – the class clown was either absent or gagged by a discerning teacher because there was not one off-the-wall inquiry. Among other things, the students wanted to know about my food supply, the places to get water, how I plan to keep clean, do I wear the same clothes for the entire trip, what happens if I am attached by a wild animal, how do I get help if I get hurt on the trail, am I hiking by myself, how far am I going to hike every day, and what I am going to do if I break my glasses? I had several students come up after chapel for some other questions. The principal began to encourage them to head back to class, so I walked back to the second floor with three wonderful kiddos (one young man and two ladies). I was so impressed with their interest and their inquisitive minds (they may have been looking for a way to get out of class, but I don’t think so).
One teacher invited me to his class in the afternoon to demonstrate setting up my tent. I was thrilled with the invitation and enthusiastically accepted. When I arrived at the classroom I was even more thrilled to find out that another class was going to join in the tent demo. The students watched intently and asked questions about the hike as I set up my Fly Creek UL2 in the classroom. They had questions about my sleeping bag, my stove, my trekking poles, and what was in my backpack. So I had the opportunity to open up my pack and show them most of the stuff that I carry. It was so much fun. Thanks, Mr. Holliday, for allowing me to invade your classroom and get to know your students a little better – and Mrs. White, thanks for being flexible enough to include your class.