At 3:35 pm on May 28th- our 13 educators from around the country gathered together at the Trade Winds Hotel to connect, collaborate, and create! It's hard to explain 'love at first sight' with strangers- but I felt that way. These crunchy-granola educators came in with smiles, handshakes, hugs, and hearts for learning. We had our first meal together and then began our evening with introductions, games, and reflection on "why we were here'.
Day 2 we hit the river. This was the first time in canoes for many of us. Were we prepared to paddle over 13 miles? Maybe not- but we did it. The sights along the river caused us to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature and how it can truly heal the soul. Ranger Bobbie provided several opportunities for us to stop, think, and create poetry together. We did have one capsizing moment and it might have been me- but I wouldn't have traded this for anything. When we reached our camp, we packed up the boats, set up our tents, started a fire and continued our fellowship. We met Rosebud Lakota Tribal Elder, Phyllis Stone. She shared some stories about her people and how we as "humans' should love one another. We were thrilled and honored to have her in our presence.
After our campfire conversations, we explored our musical side with some campfire singing and then attempted to create our glow stick art. We will let you tell us if we succeeded. We were excited to get ready for a well-deserved night of sleep in our tents. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas. After reviewing the weather reports and analyzing the radar, we decided the thunderstorms, rains, wind, and tornado watch were a little scary so we headed back to the motel. Still fun though.
On Day 3, we pivoted once again and decided that we would write our content today because of the constant rain. These educators really understood the assignment. They dug deep to write meaning connections and immersions for their students and the Niobrara National Scenic River staff. We can't wait to share them with you. We finished up the evening with a windy hot dog roast and gave everyone the rest of the night off to warm up and get some rest.
Tomorrow is all about waterfall photos and frolicking, phenology hikes, waterfall art class, horse fossil studies, bison tour, celebration cookout, and our NASA dark skies. We don't want to say goodbye yet but we know that this is truly just the beginning for all of us.