Well, Team Gibbons logged a lot of miles last week, with the four of us setting of on three different adventures across this great land’s east coast.
I spent some time at Barrier Island, a camp/nature area on Seabrook Island, where I was a chaperone for my son’s class. While there, they learned plenty of cool nature facts and even got to wallow in mud and cover themselves head-to-toe in it, which is pretty much the top of most 10-year-olds’ To Do Lists.
But most importantly, they learned these two irrefutable facts: Nature can be cold, literally and figuratively.
The literal was standing on a beach in 52-degree weather, complete with a 20 mph wind and a steady rain, during which time most of us were wearing swimsuits. Fast fact: You cannot shiver yourself warm.
The figurative came when the kids caught a small squid in a net. The instructor took the squid into the ocean and cupped it in his hand, letting the kids see it ink. He moved his hand, and the squid began bobbing along the top of the water, which we quickly found out was a not a very smart squid move, as right then, in swooped a sea gull, grabbing a quick calamari appetizer right in front of a dozen stunned fourth graders.
My daughter, meanwhile, was on her own school trip, to Williamsburg. Her first call to me on the trip was from a friend’s cell phone. She was calling to tell me that she was at Monticello, but her phone was dead and she couldn’t find a place to charge it. And people say Jefferson was an innovator. Didn’t innovate a charging station for seventh graders’ iPhones now, did he?
During her trip she brought her brother a souvenir, which was a very nice gesture. She got him a tiny glass bottle with a tiny copy of the Declaration of Independence inside. Both of my kids stared at me rather blankly when I opened it up, unrolled the miniature document and said, “I thought John Hancock’s signature was supposed to be big?” Dad humor is often underappreciated.
My wife covered the most miles. She was a chaperone on a trip with the Aiken Community Playhouse’s Youth Wing Broadway Student Summit. She and three other chaperones accompanied 16 teens to New York for several days of workshops and Broadway immersion, which, in my book, makes her one of the four bravest people on the planet, the other three being her fellow chaperones.
There, they took classes from actual Broadway talent and learned about everything from auditioning to choreography to acting and the like. My wife can tell you all of the fantastic things she did on the trip, but to me, the coolest thing was when she took a picture of an actual Alec Baldwin. He was coming out of a show and signing some autographs for folks. Several people noticed his rather dour look, and one of the autograph seekers even said to him that he should smile. He did not smile. Granted, the guy was leaving work, so I figure he gets a pass.
My daughter was most impressed by the workshop that included the actor who plays Wes on the show “Glee.” That meant absolutely nothing to me, but caused my daughter to scream and jump up and down and text everyone on the planet to tell them this. Here’s all I know about the show “Glee”: If I am listening to one of my radio stations and certain songs will come on, she will say, “Hey, that’s the song from ‘Glee!’” And I will say, “No, that’s Journey or Billy Joel or Fleetwood Mac or R.E.M. or any other number of groups that most certainly sang it before a pretend TV glee club covered it.” This is often greeted with a well-honed eye roll.
It was a whirlwind week, and I’m glad to have everyone back under one roof. While adventures like these are certainly ones for the memory banks, it does make for an awful lot of coordination sending everyone hither and yon. Not that I’m complaining, of course. It could have been a lot worse. I could have been a squid.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.