Monthly Archives: October 2010

We Made It!

I want you to stop for a moment and imagine being on a big yellow school bus surrounded by thirty-three incredibly excited seventh graders. And then take that energy and bottle it up, and then use that bottle to power one very rousing, very LONG chorus of “99 Bottles of Soda on the Wall” (our version of “99 Bottles of Beer”). Now you know what it’s like to be a seventh grade teacher on a bus rolling towards Camp Caritas.

Our bus had barely driven past the office when the kids started singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” followed quickly behind by “99 Bottles of Beer”. I managed to convince Joey to change it to “99 Bottles of Soda” which proved to be an unwise suggestion on my part. You see, Joey decided to sing The. Entire. Song. And that extra syllable from “beer” to “soda” just added more pain and misery to my life. Several times throughout his…um…singing, some of the kids nearby yelled out , “Joey…stop singing!!!” But Joey persevered. When he got down to 10 Bottles of Soda, several of the kids joined him in singing all the way down to “No Bottles of Soda!”

When he got down to “zero”, Joey called out “I win!” with hands raised in the air. He quickly dropped his arms and announced, “I’m tired…and I have a headache.”

You’re not the only one, kid.

At one point, not long after we left, I heard one of the boys say “Go Rangers!” Oh silly boy. That just leads the entire bus to start chanting “Let’s go, Giants!!!” Clap. Clap. clap-clap-clap.

It’s going to be a long drive.

At 9:38, about half an hour after we left, I heard my first “Are we there yet?”  At 9:39, I heard my second.

Did I mention it’s going to be a long drive?

Not long after that Gigi said to me, “Miss McMillan, why couldn’t we have taken a limo with a hot tub?” I’m hoping she wasn’t serious. A few minutes later, “Oh! Miss McMillan!! Can we make a pitstop at Six Flags?!?!”

Pretty sure she was serious about that one.

It started to get a little quiet…well, “quieter”…when Joey decided to call out, “I like turtles!”

Thanks for sharing, Joe.

9:47: All of the girls on the bus started squealing! I turned around and yelled, “Ohmygod…what?!!”

“BUSTER POSEY!!!!!!” [If you don’t know who that is, you haven’t been following the play-offs.]

9:50: Time for The Bible Rap! Oh so happy that I haven’t had the girls teach the entire class that one yet.

Taken from a moving, bouncing bus!

Our bus ride takes us through some beautiful California countryside; the key part of that word being “country.”

“Dang! What smells?!?!”

Joey: “Sorry.”

Me: “Joey, I think it’s coming from outside the bus.”

Joey: “Oh, sorry.”

[Another call out for Buster Posey!!!!! followed by squealing!]

Gigi: “Are we there yet?”

Jessica: “HORSE!!!!!!”

Me: “Nachos? Who’s talking about nachos?!”

Me: “Who’s yodeling!!?”

Joey: “Miss McMillan! I’m a ninja!!” [He had pulled his hood over his head and closed it up tight so all I could see were his eyes.]

Me: “Are we there yet?”

At about 10:00, West and Joey started yelling, “LET’S PLAY THE SILENT GAME!!!” I must remember to explain irony to them. They decided, instead, to play Marco Polo. That’s a new one, so they scored some points for originality. But they were seated so close to each other that it really wasn’t much of a game.

Anthony then called out, “OH…MY….GOSH!! There’s a hair salon back there!!” This was followed moments later by one of the girls saying, “Ohmygosh, I hate my hair!”

Joey: “So do I!” [Not sure if he was talking about his own hair or the girl’s.]

“Random” is one of our favorite words in middle school. Let me show you why:

“I like trees!”

“I like horses!”

“Ohmygod! Did you see the llamas?!”


“I found a Cheez-It!”

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

“It’s probably manure.”

Ah yes, just a few of the “highlights” of our bus ride to Camp Caritas. We managed to make it up here in one piece…physically speaking, of course.

Headed Toward the Lodge

We were the first group to arrive here, so we got off the bus and went into the lodge to have some time for the kids to meet the teacher naturalists, as well as time for the teacher to take care of some paperwork and stuff. Of course, none of this happened without that first stop. “Potty break!!!” And none too soon!

It’s hard to imagine, but it can be amazingly quiet in a lodge with 72 seventh graders in it. Of course, that’s when they’re just meeting the other schools and trying to size everyone up. It doesn’t usually last long, so I try to enjoy it. After a few icebreakers and the introductions of the teacher naturalists, the kids were allowed their first opportunity to move into their cabins.

The cabins are a lot nicer than the ones we had at last year’s camp. The teacher’s cabin….Oh. My. Gosh! It’s like staying in someone’s home for the week, complete with a kitchen, television (we’re hoping to see some of the World Series tomorrow and Thursday), and a lovely queen-size bed for McTeach! No bunk beds this year for me to bonk my head on! There is wireless available in the teacher’s cabin, but it’s not working at the moment. We’re trying to get that fixed!

Time to sign off for a bit. The kids will be returning to the vicinity soon and I’d like to get some more photos.

Don’t you wish you were here?!


Filed under Camp Caritas

Countdown to Caritas

In about nineteen hours (from the time of this writing), we will be on a bus on our way to Camp Caritas. Are you packed yet? Do you have your book picked out? Any last minute questions? Before you ask about the weather forecast, here’s the latest info:

Weather for Caritas

For those who are driving up to Caritas to join us, you can find directions here:

A few reminders for everyone. We will go to mass tomorrow morning at 8:00 before we leave. Students do not have to wear their uniforms tomorrow; they should wear what they plan to wear on the bus. Please try to be at school by 7:45 so you can drop off your luggage, backpacks, whatever. We will walk over to mass at 7:55 (if the teacher happens to be running around like a crazy person, please walk over ahead of me. We’ll be sitting in the front pews on the right-hand side of the church where the first graders usually sit; the seats will be reserved for us.)

The bus will be arriving at school around 9:15 which will allow us fifteen minutes to get packed up and be ready to drive away from school at 9:30. I’m sure it will be a peaceful, uneventful drive for the teacher (whose iPod will no doubt be getting plenty of use tomorrow!)

Parents…please feel free to join us at mass tomorrow morning. We will be sitting together as a class, and parents can sit behind us. After mass, we’ll be returning to the classroom for one last conversation and some breakfast treats. We’ll be back outside the classroom by 9:15 where we hope you’ll join us to say farewell (and, perhaps, a “Good Luck!!” to the teacher).

Any questions?


Filed under Camp Caritas

October Poetry

Before we leave for Camp Caritas, a poem from Robert Frost that celebrates fall. My seventh graders should recognize one of their recent vocabulary words, used properly, in the poem.


by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost.

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