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Thursday, January 21, 2010

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?


  1. Sounds like great fun!

    It's nice to hear that you actually enjoyed your public speaking bit. I was really horrible at it in high school and tried to improve through college & grad school by taking classes and just practicing. After the first few years of my PhD (lots of required presentations!), I slowly grew to enjoy it. And now, even though I get nervous, I really love talking about my research. As long as I have interesting research to present, that is. ;-p

  2. Oh, that's awesome! What great fun, and what an awesome lesson!

    Nothing as big as an epiphany for me, this week. Lots of learning, though.

    I mean, as long as you're allowed to 'learn' the same thing multiple times. XD

    Like "stop taking on too many writing projects", for example.

  3. Tora, I was in a similar situation in college and grad school, too, but somehow I never got past the abject terror portion of the program. Later on, as a librarian, I was required by a grant I was administering to give a presentation on our project for the Ohio Library Association. I was sick to my stomach for three days afterwards.

    That twenty-year-old experience had been my strongest memory of getting up in front of people until yesterday. It was a most pleasant shock to discover that not all public speaking is equal. Or that I've changed. Or something.

  4. Hey, Tami, sometimes we have to, to quote a character from a favorite series, get hit with a big brick. The one that whacked me upside the head yesterday was about the size of my house.

  5. Yay for you! Brava!

    The one I had this week was Jo Walton's post on about sf reading protocols. I don't read much nonfiction, because it feels too much like homework. The post showed me, some folks feel the same way about sf. Still, I had 3 nonfiction books out from the library last month & enjoyed them all. Although I didn't finish any of them, I wound up buying one & wishlisting the other two. Not bad, considering I had a con & a Brit for over a week.

    Isn't it marvelous how we're still inventing ourselves? It kind of rejuvenates the world, doesn't it?

    I'm looking forward to hearing your adventures.

  6. It is, and it does. I'm looking forward to seeing you, too.

  7. Interesting post. You obviously are a natural, even if you didn't know it!

    My epiphany? Ezra Meeker is everywhere! My husband's name is Scott Meeker, and he's distant descendant. Wish I could have seen the performance.

  8. I wish you could have, too. He was marvelous. If you ever get out here, I'll try to get you invited to one of the school programs so you can see him. He was really terrific, and, yes, it truly is a small world, to resort to a cliché.