...was totally amazing.  Admittedly, I was a bit cynical when I was told the trip would be happening, and that I would be chaperoning and that it would be overnight!  Mostly, I hated the idea of writing two days' worth of sub plans for my seventh and eighth graders who stayed back in town.

Upon arriving at camp, I completely changed my tune.  It was a fantastic experience that I would not have missed.  My kids showed great teamwork skills, they displayed a level of maturity that--when compared to the other schools' sixth graders who attended--was so clearly evident, and they had a blast.

Waiting patiently for their next team activity!

The experience gave them so much to write about in their writer's notebooks that that's all we did Friday.  While they worked on their writing, I composed the following poem about those nine sixth-grade gentlemen whom I shared my cabin with.  As the adult, I had my own door-less room in that tiny cabin, and I could hear every whisper they exchanged.  Sixth grade boys are delightful when they gossip and share secrets, especially when they think I can't hear them because I'm reading a book just 15 yards from the .  The "Cabin Oath" they swore to obey as they agreed shared their secrets was one of the cutest things I've ever eavesdropped on.  When they saw my poem was called "The Cabin Oath," their little eyes widened so much, and they looked terrified when they realized I'd heard their quiet chatting of the night before.

As you can see from my poem below, they had nothing to worry about; I am a good secret keeper.  I'm not sure if this poem is still in draft form, or if it needs a few more revisions.  I'm going to let it "gestate" for a week (which I always encourage my kids to do too between our weekly writing workshops!) and decide if there needs to be another draft.  Here's what I have so far though.

"The Cabin Oath"
by Mr. Harrison

She—another chaperone—observed me at the rest stop and said,
After a mediocre lunch of ham and turkey sandwich,
“I never know how to read your smile, Corbett.”
You know—fellow chaperone—I actually don’t want my smile read
Like some Steinbeck-ian memoir we analyze like scholars.
I want my smile to be remembered. 
That’s my simple truth. 
I like this grin I share during my years of breath.  Yesterday
I played along with my sixth graders at camp,
Yes, camp,
Helmet atop my head,
While other chaperones sat in the shade,
I danced briefly with my sixth grade ladies
On a narrow, long log, exchanging places
As I admitted in silence that I was 33 years older than each of them,
But I didn’t care because they each felt like my
Momentary daughters in that instant
At a wedding ten—or twenty—years from now.
Pure Heaven.  I felt it.
And my boys, each of whom
I physically gripped
And silently placed on an opposite side of said log from me…
We shall never speak of this brief hug again.
I promise.  Because that’s what guys do.
Your “cabin oath” is real to me
Even though some of you began breaking it
Within eight hours of establishing it.
I wasn’t supposed to hear,
But I did.  And I respect your secrets--
Just as I hope you’d respect mine if you even knew what they were--
Because each of us has them.
That’s life.  That’s everything.  They’re shared between friends and spouses.
That’s what we grin about as adults.
You remind us of us.  And yet you’re total mysteries too.
Bennett, why exactly are you so beloved by all,
Nate, how can you be so down-to-earth despite obvious hunger and exhaustion,
Adam, are you really this cool or do you have fears too,
Diego, do you really need to scare us in the dark,
Tayler, do you realize your humility and humanity makes you a wonderful catch,
Ryan, do you even know what that “Three Musketeers” Bar meant to me,
Sam, why does a hobo’s life appeal to me too,
Justin, why was your two-line poem the best thing you’ve written this year,
Bill, do you know how much I wished you’d actually hit your head on the ceiling,
Not enough to do damage but enough to put you to sleep last night?
Do not worry, gentlemen,
Your secrets are safe with me,
And I hope we—all of us, ladies and gentlemen—
Still trust each other this much

When I am found smiling at a rest stop next year

After having a mediocre lunch of ham and turkey sandwich,

And an adventure

With a new batch of mysterious yet familiar sixth graders.


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