My school district recently announced that it might reconsider its strict limitation on field trips, currently set at but one trip per year per teacher.
I suppose I should have been glad. When I taught grade and middle school, I typically took my students on six or seven annual adventures - to the Oakland Museum, to Angel Island, even to the local garbage dump.
I cherish one field trip memory in particular. I'd taken my kids to Coyote Hills Regional Park to augment their study of California Native Americans; and even, I hoped, to engender within them an enduring love of the incomparable California outdoors. They'd worked frantically in competitive teams to complete a scavenger hunt amid the visitor center's excellent exhibits of Native artifacts. Afterward, they'd trekked through marshes, thrown spears at moving targets, and learned how the Ohlone used tule plants for everything from roofs to diapers. Gathered within a sweat lodge, they listened spell-bound to a ranger's retelling of an exciting Ohlone myth.
As we hiked back to the bus, one student fell behind. Worried, I fell into step beside her. She looked up at me and blurted out, nearly crying, "I just don't want today to end!"
Long after that beautiful little girl has completely forgotten most of my classroom lessons, she'll treasure that wondrous day at Coyote Hills.