Sunday, October 11, 2015

That's what she said.

One of the daily rewards of my career is the insight into the unfiltered, curious and sometimes socially unaware brains of children. At the most stressful times they let slip a witty remark, an endearing observation, or just about anything inbetween. Unfortunately, I'm usually too deep in whatever task I'm doing to write them down, but here are a few of the gem's I've either taken time to note, or remembered through retellings. 

  • [A Classic from when I worked at High Trails Outdoor Science School]
    Child: "Do you do this for the money, or because you love children?"
    I think I answered honestly, "Neither"
  • After returning from the bathroom where he went to wash the mud off his hands, pre-k kid says: 

"I washed them like Bieber!"
His teacher interjects-- "like a Beaver- he was splashing like a beaver's tail.
Bummer, I wish he washed like Bieber. 

  • Our speech about the rules and guidelines on our Base Camp property concludes with, 
"If you find a creature like a lizard, you're welcome to catch it and hold it, just be respectful of it, and put it back where you found it when you're done."
Second grade kid asks:
"If I find a Bobcat, I can hold it?"
Group leader: "If you catch a Bobcat, YES you can hold it"

  • Me: "Rules of the Van- 1. Always have your seatbelt buckled. 2. No eating in the vans. 3. No screaming.
    Colton the Comedian: Rule 4. No Purple!
    Me: Um, yeah.
    Colton: and NO dark BLUE!
    Me: Um...YEAH!
  •  Me: "What else does a mammal have all over it's body?"
    Child: "MEAT!"
On my last trip, though, a curious high-schooler asked a question that has stayed in my mind for weeks. 

I can't remember the exact words, but the gist was:
What made you choose to work outside? Instead of inside? Where most women work?
I was just so struck by this. Despite the fact that we were standing on the edge of a canyon looking down on a river below, having just hiked a mile to this look-out point, he seemed unfamiliar with this foreign "outside" world. I guess it struck me because his world seemed so binary: Inside = safe, familiar, fun; Outside=scary, dangerous, foreign, boring. I guess I've never thought of the world like that, or if I have, it's the total opposite. Inside= depression, complications, electricity, buzzing, confinement; Outside= simplicity, beauty, calm, discovery. 
The other part of his question struck me equally. He seemed amazed that as a woman I would brave the outdoors. I acknowledged the generalization of his question, but commented with my own sweeping generalization. "Actually, most of the people who work in my organization are women. It seems that where education and the environment are concerned, women (and white women at that) usually fit the bill. There are many men as well (usually white...), but men interested in the environment tend toward different jobs than education, it seems. 

So why am I a woman working outdoors? For the money? or the children? I work outdoors because it's fulfilling. Because I've never seen anyone in this line of work suffer from depression, or feel unfulfilled. Because I can get PAID to summit mountains and kayak, and teach people along the way. Because I can learn every single day (and I'm rewarded for that). Because I get to work with like-minded people, who are optimistic about the future, but concerned as well. Because I get to hang out with other people's children, teach them my values and beliefs in a fun way, and then give them back. Because my job makes me happy, and I would do it even if I didn't get paid (which is sometimes sort of true). 

Sitting in on a sit-up contest. 

I truly wonder what this generation is going to be like, as we transition into an "inside" culture. I overheard a woman telling her friend that this summer, she made her kids go outside for 15 minutes a day. The other mom responded that she kicks them out and locks the doors and they're lucky if they get to come in for dinner. But what are those kids doing? Not playing in the pond by their house, or exploring the deep recesses of woods in the back of the neighborhood. Because the pond is now a parking lot and those words are a home depot. They probably just walked to their friends house where they can sit on the couch playing video games about going outside. 
In a lot of futuristic movies, there are sky-rise apartments and flying cars. Whenever I see these, I wonder if there are any parks to visit...or what the world below looks like. I'm starting to worry that those futuristic scenes aren't so far off.