Thursday, May 1, 2014

On Snow-Shoeing And Fighting Fear

 In January of this year, I started volunteering at Northrop school again, just like I did the Spring semester before.  It worked out again where I could keep volunteering once my classes started in February.  One of the things that I get to help out with (usually) when I volunteer is field trips.
Northrop is an Environmental Elementary School (K-5), so they have a lot of field trips related to the environment.  One of those field trips is to the Wildlife Refuge Center.  It's a place for animals to thrive and for classes to come and learn about animals and nature without having to drive hours and hours away.  It's in the middle of the city, not too far from Mall of America, if you can believe it.

The fifth graders that I work with went in search of animal prints and also to learn how to snow-shoe.  They had practiced identifying some signs of animal life (prints, fur, scat, holes in the snow) but now they had to learn how to put on their shoes and move around.  So we staged the first snow-shoe Olympics.  They learned the basic skills they'd need to maneuver through the snow with extra big feet.

 I also didn't know how to snow-shoe, so I wasn't any better than the fifth graders.  If anything, I was worse because I get so nervous.  I hate falling.  More than the average person does, I think.  Other people are normal and they don't let the prospect of falling stop them.  I do.

I took one set of ice-skating lessons when I was younger.  I remember that there was this girl named Bridget who noticed that I was absolutely terrified to do even the most basic ice-skating move-- skating.  She held my hand every time we had to skate across the rink.  I still can't skate confidently.

This fear translates to just about any activity where I'm not on my own two feet-- roller skating (I can't roller blade), ice skating, and snow-shoeing.  I was nervous, especially going down hills.  I was terrified that I'd fall, but more terrified that I'd fall in front of my fifth graders like a doof.  But when one of my fifth graders, Vanessa turned around and asked me if I was okay (since I was really falling behind), I decided to suck it up.  If I fell, I fell.  The fifth graders knew that this was new to me.  They'd already fallen a billion times between everyone in the class, what was one more fall made by an adult?  So I sped up a little bit.  Then we stopped, realizing that having a group of about thirty kids piled together looking for animal tracks just wasn't working.  So the student teacher and I were the leaders of one group of kids.  That's when I was forced to take up the front.  That required that I move at a good pace, making me let go of any fears that I had.

I think I let go of fear under pressure.

This was a great opportunity for the fifth graders and me.  Snow-shoeing was so much fun.  I'm now an expert at putting snow-shoes on (so many kept popping off, it was ridiculous).  I can't wait to go snow-shoeing again, although hopefully that won't be for many, many months.  It's time to let spring have a chance!

Thanks for Reading!


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