Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Desert Outdoor Center, Lake Pleasant

As Nina said, in a completely different context, "It’s beautiful here. It is possible to understand that life can be at once simple and very magnificent."

Honeymoon Cove, the view from the path to the Girl's Cabin

We arrived Thursday morning and settled in. In truth, we had very little time for leisure, since we were busy with hikes and classes and eating (the children) or food preparation and clean-up (the adults). Our first mini-hike was down to the lake shore.

Colorful, and poisonous, beetles crawl about on a desert flower near the lake

Children can amuse themselves throwing objects into large bodies of water for as long as you'll let them. (Since I have no photo release paperwork on any children other than my own, I can't post any pictures of them...)

In the evening, we went on a "night hike", which theoretically would have been a good time to see wildlife. Reality: we were so noisy that any sane wildlife, hearing our approach, stayed well out of site. That's not to say it wasn't gorgeous anyway.

These teddy bear chollas seemed to glow in the late evening light

An exceptional saguaro cluster

Upon our return, we toasted marshmallows and made s'mores. There was some non-culinary excitement, too:

No one knows why, but all scorpions glow green under a black light.

In between, the kids had classes, taught by the park rangers, on setting and using a compass, cold-blooded animals, the difference between venomous and poisonous animals, archeology, and desert survival. They had hands-on classes in archeology and survival, too, as well as marine biology, trying to identify some of the organisms living in the muck at the bottom of the lake. Thursday ended with a team-building exercise they called "The Amazing Race," seven different stations requiring communication and negotiation among the team members to accomplish different tasks. They had a blast.

No one got much sleep -- the adults were kept busy keeping everyone fed and/or on-task, and the time passed very quickly. It was an exceptional experience -- the only negative I came away with was the sense that the children did not fully appreciate how extraordinary it really was. They're fourth-graders, after all; why should I expect different? I just know it was amazing, and I hope they realize it eventually, too.

1 comment:

wayne said...

Nice posting on the DOC. To help clarify, scorpions fluoresce under a blacklight because of a protein in their exoskeleton that reflects ultraviolet light; it's an adaptation to prevent dessication. Some species "glow" a different color than green. Hope this helps :)