As I often do, I spent a rediculous amount of time researching my topic, trail signs, on the internet, but failed to come up with a sheet I could give the boys to learn and follow in creating their own trails. Perhaps I'm too much of a perfectionist, but it seems like this is almost always the outcome whenever I go searching for informative hand outs. So, as I often have done, I ended up making my own trail sign chart, complete with my own quick drawings of the signs. I think it turned out pretty decently, if I do say so myself!
In my original planning, trail signs was all I had put on the schedule for day 2, however after seeing the limited space we had to work with and finding out just how L-O-N-G 45 minutes in the heat could be on the first day, I realized I would need something else to fill about 15-20 minutes more of the session. So was born my talk on common poisonous plants of Virginia. Again not finding what I wanted online, I made up my own small handout of the four "biggies" in our area: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and Stinging Nettle. Of course, it figures that I gave this talk on day 2, after several kids already had to be sent home with the infmous itchy poision ivy rash.
Well, the boys each got a trail sign hand out and split into groups to create their own trails, complete with a hidden message of their choosing at the end. I was pleased that they seemed to really have fun making and following eachother's paths. Plus I got to sit down and take a break while they did all the 'work!' True to my hunch, there was about 15 minutes left to fill with my poison plant talk, so I gave them all the second handout and told them about the plant and where to find them. I then held up photos (taken off the internet) of various plants and asked them to try and identify them using the hand out. I even threw in some non-poisionous imposters to really test them out. Surprisingly, this part of the session seemed to really keep the boys engaged and was not nearly as dull to them as I had feared.
A trail sign for a giant to follow?
For my first time ever leading a real program with a large group, I seemed to be off to a pretty great start! Two days down, two to go!