Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back from Maine...

am back albeit a tad tired. For us it is almost an eight hour drive north from Rhode Island to the Forks Maine. We left the home at 5:30 AM and headed north. Most of these kids are from an inner city or suburban environment in a compact state. They have never been on a road trip of such a length and it was a real shock in many ways to them. In RI you can access all manner of amenities within ten minutes. Well, that isn't the case with the state of Maine. The concept of size became very cogent to them. The old adage from kids," Are we there yet ?" was asked in many forms. Again it was a learning experience. The next learning experience was a stop for one half hour at the Cabelas store in Scarborough Maine. Again many of these kids were surprised to see such a place existed. All of the Cabelas have a theme of various mounted animals in the center of the store. I did pick up a few things and made sure nothing left the store that wasn't paid for. We then headed north on Rte 201 towards The Forks Maine. This trip is on a secondary road with a lot of twists, turns and hills. Again the scene is very different from what the kids have grown up with. Another point are the small towns we entered into. I have more to tell but right now I have to run off to work. We're having visitors today and the place needs to look it's best.
On the first evening there was what is called a family meeting after supper. All of the homes gathered in the main room and people introduced themselves and some bonding games were conducted. After the meeting it was past dusk but I told some of the kids that if they wanted I would take them out on the road and see if we could find some moose crossing somewhere. Again most of these kids have had very little experience outside the concrete jungle. They have a lot of assumptions about the country and wilder areas. They are worried about bears or other wild animals attacking and eating them. They are accustomed to having people around them in many ways. Being in a setting where you do not have any people or habitation is somewhat disconcerting for them. One kid from the NYC area commented that he needed people around him. He could never live in a town of 30 people. We then got back into the van and drove back to the lodge. As we headed south down Rte 201 I spotted a cow and a calf cross the road. Immediately I started honking the horn and flashing the lights. Both animals panicked and as if by cue they slid on their hindquarters as they tried to get out of the road. Their hooves slipped on the newly refinished asphalt . The cow left some brown streaks from her mud laden hooves on the black top. I had feared that they harmed themselves for a minute but each one ran off from the road on opposite sides. We drove south and turned around. I shut the lights off and waited. Soon we saw the calf cross the road to join the mother. I had turned the lights on and started to drive north again . I honked on the horn a few more times to chase them off the sides of the road. Many logging trucks come barreling down from the North Woods and I don’t want to see them get hit. With the windows rolled down we could hear them trot through the woods with no trouble at all.
Most of these kids have never seen any sort of wildlife in their lives. This was quite an experiences for them to witness. They could not believe how large these animals are.
The kids went on the rafting trip the next morning. I will be honest. I don't care for white water that much. I drove for eight hours north and had to chaperon them while at the lodge until the evening. I have some motives behind my reasons. By doing this a day off will be accrued and I get the opportunity to take a break from the kids. The kids went down the Kennebec River with their guides and had a good time. I took off for a while and visited the sleepy town of Jackman Maine for a while. I confess that I have a penchant for this town for some reason. I believe it has to do with the stories that my father told regarding deer hunting when he was younger. In his day and age the Jackman area was the place to go. In many way it still is but the hunter success rate is low. On average the state of Maine has a 10 to 12 percent success rate. Where I hunt in Connecticut, the success rate for private land during the gun season runs around 30 percent. So I have almost a three times greater chance of getting my deer by hunting within a few miles of my home vs driving eight hours and hunting the great north woods. But there is a certain charm in regards to hunting the Great North Woods. It is an actual get away from everything.
I'll give you a cogent example of the area that emphasizes the get away aspect of it all. Many people in our society are used to having a connection at all times with other people via some sort of electronic device. I guess I am a short nosed cave bear from the last Ice Age. I don't have a cell phone plan. I have a trac phone that is now inactive and I have yet to reactivate it. I don't have an MP3 player or IPOD. I don't have a Black Berry although I like them in a pie and partaking in the Polish tradition of a shot of black berry brandy before quaffing a nice brew. The only Blue Tooth I have is after eating some blue berries. Well, I guess that explains a lot in my life.

We have a policy at the house where students are not allowed to have cell phones, IPODs or other devices. One main reason is that they can call someone up and set up a jail break of sorts. The other is that you can create a spark and ignite something like a half smoked cigarette butt. We make one exception for IPOD's and MP3 players. This is a long trip and we allow them to have them so the trip is more bearable for them. Also, when you go that far in Maine you generally pick up one radio station. I told the kids," I want you all to watch and listen to this." I turned the radio on and pressed the seek button. The radio self tuned through the whole spectrum several times and locked on one radio station. A hard rock station. They were all surprised. Two of the counselors stated that they had no cell phone reception. This was the case for at least seventy five miles of where we were. This was a real culture shock for people who live in a compact area.
All of the students had a great time. They had a unique and enriching experience that can demonstrate alternatives to getting high.