Gavin’s last two days of 1st grade were spent on a field trip to the Iao Valley Nature Center and The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. It was an overnight trip. A first for us.
I knew the trip was going to be good because just on the way up to the Nature Center (2 hour drive), we found a bird trainer on the side of Hana Hwy letting tourists take pictures with his 5 highly trained parrots. They were beautiful birds and I just couldn’t resist stopping and letting Gavin oogle the birds and even take a picture or two with them. We were off to a good start.
We arrived at Iao Valley about 1 1/2 hours early, but it didn’t take long before other kids and parents and teachers all arrived. All the kids ran around free to play and cause trouble for an hour before they brought out some pizza, chips and cake for lunch.
After lunch they took us to our rooms to let everyone dump their stuff and settle in. The two buildings with rooms were kind of set up in such a way that made me feel like I was staying at a Motel 8.
With our stuff in our rooms and the kids all in good moods and full of food, the program started. We had an indoor lesson on habitats, discussing the many different kinds we can find right there on the grounds as well as what kind of animals and creatures live in those habitats. This included a box of examples such as spiders, butterflies, lobsters, toads and lizards. The kids were all impressed and listened quite well.
That was the first stop in a loop of activities that the kids were involved with; all dealing with habitats. The rest of the activities included a trip to a 1st grade tree house for a discussion on the 5 things needed to live (space, food, water, shelter, and air), an outdoor puzzle activity on what the food chain is, a hunt for bugs (Gavin found some ants and rollie pollies), and a “create your own habitat” activity that involved filling containers with water, rocks, leaves and algea, and then fishing for little fish and crawfish with little nets in a small pond to put in the created habitats. They finished up with a walk across the “big, big bridge” over the Iao Valley river and back again to the room where they started to hold a recap session. After that, the kids were set loose.
While the kids all ran around, the adults all lounged around the patio and the grill got set up and prepared to make hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. During this time, the staff opened up their Interactive Nature Museum. This became a popular place for kids as well as adults, with things like fish tanks, microscopes, videos, nature displays, and other various neat things.
For dinner, hamburgers and hot dogs were served with sides of potato salad and chips. At this point everyone was starving and if there was any doubt of having leftover food, it was squashed. Even Gavin ate an entire costco-sized hamburger with chips and Caprisun.
What is an overnight camping trip without a camp fire? As soon as the sun started going down, the kids all got whiff of a rumor that there were going to be smores. It didn’t take long before all the kids had sticks in hand and were swarming around the fire. There were many flaming marshmallows and many burnt sticks and many consumed smores. I myself had two or three. We spent a good hour around the campfire before the kids started to realize how tired they had become. Gavin approached me and said, “Dad. I’m tired. Can we go to bed now?” Kids are so cute when they get this tired. We headed to our rooms, set up our bed, changed and laid down in bed. We talked story for a short bit. It didn’t take Gavin long to fall asleep. It also didn’t take long for the parent in the bunk next to us to fall asleep. I wish I had fallen asleep before him. He is the worst snorer I have ever heard. He even beats out my good friends Sal and Shaun. He made them sound like cats purring. I didn’t get much sleep that night.
The following day started off with a Costco muffin breakfast before setting off on our short hike back across the “big, big bridge” to the “needle” (a large mountain that juts up towards the sky like a needle”. It was apparent that the kids were still exhausted by the previous nights activities. Everyone moved just a bit slower than normal. But we finally reached our destination, which seemed to perk everyone up a bit. The view was beautiful. You can see the mountains in every direction above, and the river in front of us below. It was a sight we all appreciated. Everyone snapped a few pictures and that was that. Time to head back.
On the way back, the kids all got a second wind. This resulted at stopping at the river along the way to let the kids all go swimming. Apparently they all knew about this because suddenly they were all wearing bathing suits. I was able to convince Gavin that he could go swimming in his shorts, so that is what he did. It was nice seeing them all happy and swimming around and jumping off rocks and having a good time. You almost wouldn’t have known that the water was freezing.
That pretty much concluded the Iao Valley Nature Center part of the trip. And it seems that the kids (and parents) counted this as 99% of the trip. And they allocated their energy accordingly.
For the last part of the trip, we all drove down to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kihei. Here the kids learned about whales. They made their own paper cutout whale and did some coloring and stamping to create a reef of their very own. It was fun, but 1 or 2 of the kids kind of passed out while coloring.
It took longer than expected to get home (we took the unpaved, un-maintained, back way around the island), but we finally made it. Holly and Leif were happy to see us. We ate a quick dinner and plopped down to relax for a short bit before having to put the kids to bed. When that time came, it was easy. Gavin was out in minutes. The sign of a good trip.