PART I: Before
In Our Town, every sixth grader in the public school has the opportunity to go on a
school environmental education trip for four days and three nights one small group at a time to the enticingly named Mount Misery. This trip is an institution in these parts, and the kids have been going for 150 years (I may be exaggerating). Like the rest of the country, New Jersey is having this wicked budget crisis and took away 750% of Our Town’s state funding. Therefore Our Town is having an even wickeder budget crisis and, in order to save a hundred-odd thousand dollars, (Note: Each family has to pay $230.00 themselves for the trip, but that includes the commemorative t-shirt.) added the Mt. Misery trip to the chopping block.
Ho ho hold the phone… people showed up at school board meetings in DROVES! Old people, young people, parents, students, family pets, deer ticks, stakeholders (what a douchebag term) of every size and shape came out to support this program. It was INSANE. Spanish? Who needs it! Instrumental music? Whatever. Screw the Gifted program, Eff class size, WE NEED MT. MISERY!!! There is a “Save Mt Misery” Facebook page with 2,604 members! People who went as kids are rabid about their kids going on this trip. Absolutely RABID.
I am surrounded by these rabid Mt. Misery enthusiasts. Even parents I know who were unsure at first, were total converts after their kid went. They are like pod people and
they frighten me. As someone who grew up outside of Our Town and even outside of the lovely Garden State, I was astonished by this phenomenon. First of all, why is everyone so jazzed up about this? There has to be some special Kool-Aid involved. Second, I was not thrilled with the idea of my 6th grader being away from home for that long with no contact. My usual tactic would be to volunteer to chaperone, but parents do not go on this trip. Nope. Only teachers (Lucky them, right?!) No parents, no updates, no nothing. Did I mention that the sixth grader in question, Sweet Pea, is my oldest and that in my mind he is, like four years old? Who in their right mind would send a four year-old on a three night trip with just teachers even if he is in 6th grade? I could keep him home while every other kid in his class goes on the trip. But, I guess I am not that parent. I thought I might be, but it turns out I’m not. Don’t get me wrong. If for some reason Sweet Pea didn’t want to go on this trip, I would totally take the heat and say it was me. But, of course he wanted to go. Duh.
So… I am going shopping for a disposable camera, a disposable cheap rain poncho, disposable cheap socks and a potentially disposable cheap sleeping bag. Don’t even get me started with what I have to do for his medication. It involves multiple doctors, pharmacies and flaming hoops to jump through. Then, armed with my trusty Sharpee, I will label all his crap, cram it into a duffel bag and send him on his merry way. (Note: Sweet Pea asked my NOT to label his underwear because he didn’t want anyone coming up to him with a pair and asking: Is this your underwear? I totally see his point). I’ll let you know how it goes.