As the sunset, I excitedly ventured to the Norfolk audubon society of Massachusetts to work a night-time program for eagerly awaiting boy scouts and girls scouts. I had previously worked to inform young minds about the wonders of the night on several occassions, but they could not compare to the experience I had last night. As I arrived, I discovered the activities my boss required were different than before, and far more hands-on than usual. Assumingly, this would create for a fun atmosphere and a better program for the children. However, as soon as I recieved my group of young cub scouts, I knew the night would be long, tiresome and emotionally exhausting. Some acitvities were way over their heads and others didn't capture their interest whatsoever.
We set off on our hike. In the distance, the glow of the sun barely stretched across the horizon as I introduced myself and met the young boys who would be with me for the next couple of hours. It was a small, tight-knit pack with several parents tagging along. And each of the boys had a specific quality that added to the uniqueness of this journey. One insisted he knew all of the animals we might see and listed various species that didn't even inhabit our area. Another had something to say about every comment I made. There was one boy who eventually thought he was my best friend, reminding me at every turn. Even the parents added a stressful element by falsely correcting my facts or interjecting their opinions or personal stories. It didn't aleviate the situation that all light had faded from the area and we were deep in the woods, barely able to see the hand in front of our faces.
At one point, I was convinced someone would fall into the pond we had walked by just after some scouts fell victim to the many roots on the trail. My directions about how to safely navigate terrain at night were completely ignored, evident by the subsequent incident: a parent walked directly into a tree. Thankfully, there were no injuries but we were only half-way through the program. I calmly inhaled and led us onward. The boys grew anxious and decided to run on the trail in order to scare another group we spotted around the bend. The last thing I needed was for the objects we saw to turn out to be coyotes or some other startled creature. But it did provide me with some entertainment to find the "group" we saw was actually just a cluster of trees. Passing by the waterfall and back up to the nature center, I was not only tired from the hike but tired of the complaints and corrections I recieved from the troop. A bright light burning our night-eyes was the welcome back to safety. The kids were exhausted and collapsed onto the floor as soon as they were inside. Although it was a fun time, and could easily have been worse, I was happy for the program to come to an end.