I’m on a homeschool field trip high right now. Forgive me.
Yesterday, we toured a real dairy farm, drinking chocolate milk while the cows went in to be milked. Pretty cool. BenBen might have found his life calling. After an hour and a half at the dairy, I practically had to drag him out; he kept thinking of “one more thing he had to do.” Now, I’m thinking we need to tour another dairy, since they are all set up differently.
This past weekend, the kids and I had another learning adventure. Right across the border there was a “walk to freedom” following the path of the underground railroad that escaped slaves used as they traveled into Canada. I was surprised to learn last year that this area was in fact part of the underground railroad (northern Maine? really?), but there was a Quaker community here that aided them in hiding, they crossed into Canada where the federal bounty on slaves no longer applied, and when they reached the lake we hiked to, they knew they were free. From there, it’s not far to the St. John River and travel by boat to the Atlantic Ocean.
To make the whole event more understandable to the kids, we toured a local church which used to belong to the Quakers, where the escaped slaves were hidden in the floorboards of the altar. We got to see where they were hidden and we talked through how they would have traveled and what the danger was like.
From there, we crossed into Canada and hiked more than 3 miles along a marked trail to the lake. Although the trail was marked, it was rough. We crossed a bunch of streams. We scrambled up and down steep streambanks. We squeezed between trees. We got our feet wet in mud and bogs many many times. These “hardships” were by design. We could easily imagine this was how the people truly traveled. They were not walking on the well-worn path. Their feet got wet. They were muddy. They thought they would never get there (and it was long enough that the kids felt this way). The only difference is that we had a marked path…they didn’t even have that luxury.
More than any book we could read or movie we could watch, this event made real to us what these people felt as they traveled to freedom. It was inspiring, and I am certain we need to do this every year we can. It opened up great conversations.
Another awesome event this past week that opened up great conversation was volunteering at a food pantry in our town. In the past, we have not found places that allowed children to work, because let’s admit it. It is a lot more work to have kids there. The volunteers at this food pantry called our kid chaos “energy”. They said we could come back. And our homeschool group packed up 140 bags of groceries for people in need in our town. I am excited to get a regular routine of helping there.
I feel blessed that although we live in a rural place that there are amazing opportunities all the time to expand our world. In the past month, we have watched a real Amish barn raising, walked on the International Appalachian Trail, toured a fire station, and passed through customs several times. That’s pretty good variety.
As I considered all these interesting things to do, I told John I was overwhelmed with the adventures to be had in our area. John looked at me skeptically.
“Or maybe adventure is just a state of mind..?”
“It’s a state of mind,” he quickly affirmed.
Well, call it what you will. Last week, a friend and I trimmed around some wild apple trees so we’ll hopefully get more apples for sauce next year…even that is something interesting and different. I felt thankful for the variety in my life. Being a homemaker is truly the best job in the world…I have so much freedom.
When we do these events, we do them just because we want to, which brings up an interesting thought. I know at some point my kids need that badge or award for what they do to give it a name. A friend of mine told me that Hannah would naturally get a bunch of girl scout badges, just by nature of what we do, nothing contrived. We don’t need to do it for the badge now but I know sometime we might have to. For now, we’ll just do what we do.
There is plenty to keep us learning.
What adventures have you found lately? What’s your favorite field trip you’ve done with kids?