One of the coolest things about teaching at the school that I do is that there is an incredible Outdoor Education program. Each grade level takes an OE trip to learn about independence, team work, and appreciating nature. This past week, I was able to spend an entire week in Big Bend National Park with 31 seventh graders, sleeping in a tent, hiking, canoeing, and going without modern conveniences like showers and iPhones. It was exhilarating and exhausting, but surprisingly, I found that my love for Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, and Comic Con helped me get through some of the tougher spots.
The first night in my tent was probably the first time I ever regretted being such a huge fan of The Walking Dead. My mind immediately flashed to Season One when everyone was living in tents, which proved not to be in the least zombie-proof. I then
remembered a certain Supernatual episode where a camper became a “human burrito” and was killed a by some creepy monster in his sleeping bag THAT LOOKED JUST LIKE MINE! But after these thoughts, the very real javelinas running around my tent in the middle of the night didn’t seem so formidable. They seemed downright cute, and I drifted off to a somewhat peaceful sleep.
It’s not easy feeling human, let alone cute, when you haven’t showered in a few days. No number of cleansing cloths can take off the layers of dirt and grime. But I always thought, “WWMD?” (What Would Maggie Do?). Ever notice how Maggie and all the characters from The Walking Dead still look really attractive even though there are no showers in the zombie apocalypse? They were my inspiration, so I dressed accordingly. I wore my Psych the Musical t- shirt from Comic Con on the first day to set up tents and stoves. I wore my Karen Hallion Alice/Doctor Who mashup t-shirt to hike the Lost Mine Trail, which was a hike of five miles with an ascent of about 1,000 feet. And finally, I wore my shirt from last year’s Nerd HQ, which prompted a few questions from a fellow leader. After talking to her about Nerd HQ and its charity work with Operation Smile, she was intrigued. Hopefully she will contribute to the Nerd HQ crowd funding campaign and become a part of the Nerd Army! These cute shirts helped me feel a bit cuter in my hiking boots and dirt covered pants. I realize some die-hard outdoorsy types would claim that’s shallow, but I disagree. It’s not shallow, it’s survival!
Finally, while gazing at the stars and pointing out the constellations Ursa Major and the Little Dipper to my students, Doctor Who naturally came up in conversation. A student said looking at the stars reminded her of a bracelet I wear to school sometimes. She couldn’t remember the exact Doctor Who quote on the bracelet, but she knew it was about the stars. “ ‘Rescue me, chin boy, and show me the stars,’ ” I told her. She laughed and said it was a perfect quote for me that week, waiting to be rescued by the Doctor from javelinas and turkey vultures. I laughed and tried not to find it alarming that my students can remember my jewelry but not my grammar lessons.
It was an amazing week of adventures that I feel privileged to have experienced, although it was heavenly to shower again and check my twitter feed. I may have had to rough it for a few days, but I learned that an occasional thought of the Doctor or Rick Grimes or the Winchester Boys or even Ballroom 20 at Comic Con could make those rough days a bit smoother.