Monday, May 23, 2016

Beaver Island Field Trips

When you live on an island in the middle of nowhere there are going to be a few adjustments.  There are adjustments in your personal life (like paying $2.50 for every bag of trash you throw away) and in your professional life (like teaching classes of less than ten kids).  One of the aspects of being a teacher that can take some adjusting is how one travels to and from field trips.  You see, there are very few ways to get off of Beaver Island, and air travel is the only year-round option.  So, when your class (or club/sport if you coach) needs to go somewhere you must travel.

Last Friday, my class took off on the airplane for the first of two annual elementary swimming trips. I took these trips with my class last year too, but somehow never managed to post about it.  It's definitely a post-worthy experience though because there are few places in the United States (with Alaska being the exception) where air travel is the norm for school functions.  Not only are we flying, but we are flying in small 6-8 seat airplanes. 

In the morning, my class and I showed up at the airport approximately fifteen minutes before our flight.  No TSA, no security lines, and certainly no need to arrive early. We simply showed up and hopped on the plane.  The kids in my class are all true islanders and think the airplane is the "normal" way to travel.  Honestly, trying to get them all to wear seatbelts once we reached the mainland was MUCH more difficult than throwing them in a teeny airplane, mostly because seatbelts are unheard of on the island. 

Once we went "across" (the local slang for leaving the island) we made our way to the swimming pool. The 1st-3rd graders get to go to Charlevoix Public Pool twice a year for swimming lessons, which is super crucial on the island because they all swim in Lake Michigan non-stop and many of them wander to the beach by themselves during the summer. After swimming, we all went out to eat at Subway, which is another exciting, new experience for the kiddos.  There is no fast food on the island and a few of my students didn't even know what Subway was. I had to explain the menu to them and ended up doing all of the ordering because of the confusion, which was fine because they aren't used to being around strangers in the first place and many of them were being pretty shy. 

The way home was similar to the way there.  No lines, quick departure, and smooth flying.  Taking trips like this one is incredibly important in teaching students how to successfully live off and on the island.  There are many experiences that our students just don't get to have, even simple stuff like placing a food order, and these trips are their opportunity to try out some of these new experiences. It's definitely a skill building event, albeit a rather expensive one!

Your turn...Have you ever traveled by small airplane?
Currently listening to...Act Naturally - Buck Owens


  1. What an adventure! We eat out so much my kids would be AMAZED to live with no fast food ;) Thanks for sharing

    1. It's funny because I think most people would struggle to live without fast food, but here the kids barely know it exists. One of them asked me, "Is Chinese food kind of like fast food?" Haha.

  2. This is awesome! I love all of Michigan! Islands and peninsulas and flora and fauna

    1. Me too! I've really grown to love the islands in northern MI. They are very picturesque.


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