Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Middle School Retreat

Another busy weekend for the Carlsons! 
Basically since we got on campus in July, I feel like the middle school staff has been making reference to the middle school retreat: their need for volunteers to help plan, to help organize, and of course to help chaperone! So by the time the second or third email came out reminding us to sign up to chaperone, I was starting to feel a little guilty. I asked if we could bring the kids so that we could both go, and the answer was a resounding "yes!". So I signed all four of us up. I really should have done a little more research first!
Remember that staff retreat we went on before school started? The one where families with young kids have complained so much in past years, that they finally gave us the option to go home rather than spend the night? The one where the accommodations are very traditionally Korean? [I just looked back and realized I actually managed to not blog about this event, so you won't remember. Suffice it to say, the accommodations are not deluxe, and that is really all you need to know at this point!] Well, it turned out that the middle school retreat was held in the same location. Had I known this, there's a good chance I would not have signed up!
Regardless, we'd volunteered and we were going to follow through (especially when our middle school chaplain's mom died two weeks before the retreat and he had to go back to the States to be with his family). Those in charge of the planning of the retreat logically decided that we could not have 10 middle schoolers in mine or Eric's care since we have these two little crazy kids with us, so we were able to play flexible support roles. That really worked out in Kennedy's favor when she got invited to her first birthday party by one of her favorite new pals here. Her friend had hand-delivered her "Princess Party" invitation and there was no way I was going to be able to keep Kennedy from that party (even to be one of the stars of the retreat!). So, the kids and I managed to get out of going to the retreat center Friday night. I dropped Kennedy off in her princess attire and took Cade out on a date, just the two of us! Eric, meanwhile, was attempting to sleep in a room with about 10 8th grade boys who did not want to sleep!
Saturday morning, the kids and I got up early, packed our backpack, and walked the mile to the closest subway station. The retreat center is conveniently located on the same subway line that we live on, so we had about a half hour subway ride with 15 minute walks on either end. Not too bad.
Many of the middle schoolers have met our kids because they come to school every Thursday with me for soccer practice, if not more often. They are always a big hit, but they were BIG stars this weekend! Every kid wanted to give them high fives, hugs, or just rub Cade's blond buzz cut! It turned out that neither one of us was too busy with the kids because they had SO many babysitters! Eric had a great time playing basketball and other games with kids, as well as getting to know them better helping out with the small groups. I worked in the Canteen where the kids were able to buy snacks and drinks during their free time. 
We had a great time getting to know our students outside of school, but at 7:00 when they still had several hours of planned events going on, we decided that our roles had played out and we took our exhausted kids back home on the subway again. It was a long day, but it was a good one. 

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