One of the great things about teaching at this school is that we have the extra opportunities to connect with students outside of the normal classroom setting. I have so enjoyed being able to interact with my students in the canteen, around the grounds of the school, and, most recently, on our annual 3-day, 2-night spiritual retreat.
We drove about 3 hours from the school to a beach on the West side of the island, Carita (Cha-ree-tah). I often found myself walking a fine line between teacher-in-charge and returned-to-12-year-old-self. Spending a week with 95 middle schoolers can do that to you! It was a really incredible trip – relationships were forged, lessons learned, and memories created.
Throughout the last few days we had sessions, small group meetings, and worship (led by a super-talented group of students! Things like this make it easy for me to forget that they’re only 12.). The tagline was “Something Greater Than Gold”, based on Eric Liddell, a Scottish olympian/missionary to China. The focus was on loving our neighbors.
The day that we arrived we had some time at the beach. The kids snagged me to be their mandatory supervisor, knowing that I would be incapable of answering in the negative. They drew in the sand, splashed back and forth, and skipped rocks, and I explained to them sea glass and the concept of tackling waves. Aren’t my students precious!?
The first day also boasted our homeroom dance competition; the kids had been working for weeks, and they all did a great job! Grace and I were elected to be judges, and promptly chose personalities to make things more interesting…
Finally, to close the night out, we played family feud. We were the “Mustachio family”. If you look closely, you can see our mustaches (and my goatee, courtesy of a begging student)!
Our second day at the retreat we put on an SPH version of the “Olympic Games”. In the morning we did dry events, and I was in charge of a severely altered game of soccer that slightly resembled ultimate frisbee. After lunch, we returned to our competition. I supervised an event in which students worked together to try to fill a hole-filled pipe with water. It was rather comical, from my end at least! I took advantage of the concentration going on to sneak attack students with buckets of water, and we finished out the event with an epic 25 person water war.
In the evening, we did an AWESOME activity called the “paper bag simulation”. You can read more about it here… it turned out to be my favorite part of the retreat!
We ended the night with a closing bonfire, bringing back many old campfire songs – I was reminded time and again of camp as a child and retreats with the youth group!
After an early wake-up and breakfast, we packed up and headed back to school.
We got back about an hour early, so we returned to our homerooms to finish out the fun. I must say, I was impressed by the kids innovative ways to entertain themselves, even after a long, tiring few days!
And, finally, here we all are, ready to head home 🙂