The WOLF School (conservation based 5th grade) that my daughter attends held their camping trip this weekend at Ritter Springs Park. We had great weather with the exception of lots of wind Friday night! We rented a tent which was missing some poles and heck, I don’t even think the rain cover went with it, but you make do with what you have and it’s all good. Check out our weekend pad. Stellar. Actually, it was great! More room than we really needed that’s for sure.
Fast forward to that same evening. We were scheduled for a Night Hike. I had no idea where we’d be hiking, or what we’d be looking for and neither did anyone else. We hiked to the mouth of a cave and checked out the bat flight. We all stood around the mouth of this cave (like a huge sinkhole actually) and watched around 3,000 bats (not kidding) come and go. They flew over our heads and side swiped our cheeks. It was cool.
Sleeping that night was cool as well. The breeze was a little bit too much at times and it really kept whipping at our tent. In turn that kept me awake, being the light sleeper that I am. I didn’t think a bottle of wine was appropriate for this trip so I dealt with the wind. I sat outside for awhile and checked out the stars and felt the wind on my face, I went to the bathroom (which was a hike) and watched my kid sleep like a baby.
I was up at 6 a.m. and took a jaunt down to the creek and meditated for half an hour. I had originally planned to be in STL this same weekend with one of my favorite yoga teachers, but this trip was yoga in itself. The grass around this creek was so lush and green. I truly felt like Frodo might pop out from behind one of those trees any second. I took advantage of the early morning sun to capture some of the beauty.
There were several activities we could sign up for and I let Lauren pick them all. So on Saturday morning I found myself signed up for Trail Running. Uh oh. I’m no runner. It was obvious that our guides were serious runners but they weren’t intimidating one bit. In fact, a few of us found ourselves connected by some other time or place and I always enjoy reconnecting with people under different circumstances. We learned about trail running do’s and don’ts. We then headed to the lake and creek for a short little run. Here’s a photo of our trail running team. Go WOLF School!
After lunch (all the food was provided) we met up with our cave guides and headed to Junction Cave. This cave is up high, steep high above the river. We stopped at an outbuilding and grabbed flashlights, hard hats and gloves and onward we went. Actually, 3 people from Nebraska just happened to be walking by and the guides asked them to join us. They’re probably thinking that the parks here in Springfield, Missouri totally rock right about now! We had great guides and we were amongst another fun group of people. When we arrived at the cave, we did a little cleaning. This cave is open to the public and people like to leave lots of marks in the way of graffiti, candles and broken glass. You remove graffiti with water (preferably cave water) and a wire brush. How simple is that?
After a bit of cleaning, it was our turn to enter. We were able to go in about 150 feet or so. At one time, we all turned off our flashlights. I have never, ever experienced darkness like that in my life. You literally could not see your hand in front of your face. It was awesome! I shot a great photo of a cave salamander and a bat. Below is my daughter Lauren, her friend Sierra and Sierra’s aunt, Jeri.
We slid on out of the cave and down the hill back to camp! We played some games, challenges and puzzles with groups that were fun, but I will say by the time we got to that event, I was spent!
I’m hoping for a smooth transition from this very cool 5th grade, to 6th grade when we re-enter civilian school. And, if you have a 4th grader that likes being outdoors, applying for WOLF school is a great idea as well.
Go camping, it’s so worth it.