Black Hills Reflections
“Learning outside the classroom”
What a delight for me to lead a trip back to the Black Hills. I am so proud of the growth these children continue to make on our journey through life. The experiential outdoor education and service learning opportunities we had on our recent trip were invaluable. We explored caves, hiked, camped, fished, rock climbed, repelled, played soccer, swam, climbed trees, and cliff-jumped. We visited Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and a dinosaur museum. We told stories, shared lots of laughs, gave campfire speeches, sang a bit, and made s’mores. We may have even captured a Sasquatch. We listened to park rangers, a Lakotah Chief, a local historian/pastor, and our classmates. We served a local elderly couple helping them with some general clean up and landscaping. We opened our ears and our hearts to God. We read, we wrote, we prayed, we laughed, and we played. We enjoyed life and living in community! What an awesome opportunity! We are blessed! We are Anastasis!
“King of the Hill”
Let me tell you, waking up early in the morning, after a night of sleeping on the hard forest ground, to go boulder up Mount Baldy is not exactly my favorite thing in the world. With Mr.A pestering us with words of encouragement, such as “Hurry up Grandmas”, “Get a move on”, “You’ll just sit here and freeze”, and “Grandmas’s double time,” we were packed and at the base of our trek. With my grumpiness on my sleeve, we began. The way up wasn’t too effort involving, except for ‘Fat man’s misery’; oh the joy! At the summit of Mount Baldy, I could finally see the beauty of the Black Hills. I was King of the Hill! “It’s 7:00!” Mr.A informed us. We took pictures, then scrambled down. On my way down, I took a break in between two rocks to look out on the landscape. I felt a calmness and reassurance come over me. All alone, I felt at peace with the world. Nothing to distract me and take away from God’s glory. “Beauty is the Bible’s word for inexpressible glory.” (Unknown) Continuing on, we all made the hike to the vans in one piece. At first sight, some classmates ran to the vans with what energy was left. At the vans, we could clearly see the peak of Mount Baldy and it was crazy for me to see where I was only a short hour and a half earlier. “You never know what you can do until you try.” (Unknown)
“Being aware in the stillness”
Have you ever got to experience sitting on top of Little Devils Tower and watch the suns rays scatter across the trees? Well I did. This past week my 8th grade class and I went on a phenomenal trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was a beautiful, yet windy, Wednesday morning, and we hiked up to a rock that overlooks to Little Devils Tower. As we were flying through our book East of Eden, Mr.Fink had assigned us to go find somewhere to sit and be silent. It took me awhile to find the perfect spot, and then something caught my eye. There was this hole that was sitting on the edge of the rock and it was filled with water. Once I spotted it, something told me that it was the perfect spot because it overlooked all of the valley. Once I sat down, I started singing a song to myself, and the song is called “Set a fire” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit. In the chorus it says ” Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain, that I can’t control, cause I want more of you God”. As I was singing that, I could feel the suns rays hit my back and it would send this warm chill up my spine. It was the best feeling ever and it was like God was setting a fire down in my soul. The coolest thing was when I was watching the suns rays move across the trees, and it would destroy the darkness in its path. It reminded me that Gods light can shine through out all the darkness in the world, no matter what. In the stillness, I became aware of my surroundings and that is what caught my eye.
I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to go to the Black Hills in South Dakota with the seventh and eighth graders as I did last year. When I was the seventh grader, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Finkbeiner baptized me in Sylvan Lake on this trip. My baptism was such a sublime time that I don’t think I could ever forget it even if I tried. Now this year, two seventh graders, Lexi Basso and Athena O’Toole got baptized and watching them brought me joy because it reminded me of the happiness I felt last year. When Mr. Anderson and Mrs. Lauer baptized Lexi, Mrs. Lauer lost her balance and struggled to pull her up, because she was falling, but eventually Lexi got up. This was so funny, but to me I saw it deeper. Such as, a lot of times, being baptized is seen as the starting point to your relationship with God. Yet again, many people don’t consider it as a start, but more of a midway or finish and define that as their relationship with God. Although, to be able to have a relationship with God, you have to plunge into the water with all you have and getting up wont always be easy and you may fall, but God will always carry you back up no matter how hard it seems. Being at Sylvan Lake brought back memories from my experience last year, such as how holy it felt, and the small wind that blew when I came up. I kept wishing I could go back to that one moment of my baptism when I felt God, then I remembered that I should share God and all he has. Watching these two bright seventh grade girls come up with a big smile on their face made me feel so blessed to have the people in my life that I do and thankful for the community I have at Anastasis Academy.
I love climbing rocks in nature especially when I’m with the people I care about. My class and the seventh graders went to Sylvan Lake in South Dakota to climb rocks for the morning. It was a repeat of last year for the eighth graders, so we were pretty “experienced” with the rocks. Last year I couldn’t even make it halfway up one of the laid out climbing routes. This year was completely different. I was wearing a superman shirt with a built-in cape while I was climbing, so I guess you could say that the cape gave me “the strength” to make it up five rock faces! I was so proud not just of myself, but of each and every one of my classmates. We showed that it doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, you can do anything you set your mind to. We were in a beautiful spot where you could see the majestic Sylvan Lake sparkle in the distance, and it felt like I was in a euphoric state. A couple of people found two little cunning chipmunks trying to steal our food that was hidden in our backpacks. It’s funny how we notice the little things when we go camping and get into nature.
Last week we got to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota and over that week I feel that I really bonded with the seventh graders and got to learn a lot about them. I realized that they are all really bright and that they are not afraid to be themselves. When we went rock climbing Noah and Sophie surprised me because no matter how hard the rock they would keep trying until they finished it. Kaylee and Taylor truly showed how great of leaders they are. When we were cleaning up to leave in the mornings they were always the last ones to the vans because they stayed behind to do all the dirty work. Meredith and Lexi really surprised me around the camp fire because they are normally the more reserved girls, but as Lexi played her guitar Meredith sang her heart out and it was great to see them show us what they love to do. Athena truly showed me her willingness to help in the cooking group. Throughout the week Blake was the one who if things were awkwardly quiet or if some one was down he was always there to get a laugh going and create great memories. JD this week really showed his true character which was caring for others. Jared and Gabe both were out side of their norm because they are normally very reserved and non talkative, but this week they both came out of their shells and started to talk more. I realized that they are both actually pretty funny. Overall the seventh graders have taught me many lessons through their actions, and I am thankful for that because we are now much closer than we have ever been before.