Monday, July 28, 2008

Cabrini Connections Six Flags Trip!!!

So this past weekend I was presented with the task of chaperoning a trip that took 35+ students with excellent attendance during the past quarter of tutoring/mentoring to Six Flags. The trip was a way to reward the kids for coming in regularly each week and to give them an additional reason to come in and develop a relationship with their dedicated tutor/mentor. Besides encouraging the kids to stay engaged in the program and giving them a fun way to enjoy their Saturday, the trip was a great opportunity for me to get to know some of the kids that I hadn't yet got the opportunity to meet. Since I was hanging out with the kids all day from 7:45am until about 9pm, I was able to spend some time with the grand majority of the students at some point during the day.

When we reached the park we broke up into smaller groups. Mine included Romel, an incoming freshman who loves football and talking about anything and everything. He often hangs out around Cabrini Connections during the day because his mother works at a nearby print shop and is constantly chatting me up during the day, cracking jokes and otherwise providing me with excuses to take a break from my current task and shoot the breeze for a bit. His friend from the football team, Akeim, joined us as well, who despite his tough-guy demeanor is deathly afraid of roller-coasters! Savon is an incoming 8th grader and is extremely intelligent. In fact, despite not being enrolled in school this summer, he studies algebra each week with his tutor to make sure that he will test into the accelerated math program and excel. Our first ride of the day on the Raging Bull was his first roller-coaster experience and he absolutely loved it! The look of sheer terror on his face during the in-ride picture was nearly worth the ridiculous sum of money that Six Flags was charging for photos. Rounding our our crew was Sean, an incoming freshman who was the only one of us who actually planned ahead and brought his swim trunks, enabling him to take advantage of Hurricane Harbor, the new waterpark at Six Flags. He split off from us about 2/3 of the way through the day to enjoy the waterpark, and told us that he had a great time riding an enormous toilet bowl shaped water ride about a dozen times in a row.

Upon reconvening at the bus at the end of a long day at the park, it was clear that everyone had a great time. Nobody got into any trouble and the trip was well organized, with Subway providing free lunch and dinner for all of us so that we could avoid wasting our money on the absurdly priced food in the park. The various chaperones, staff and volunteers alike, were able to get to know the kids better during the myriad hours spent in close proximity waiting in line and the kids were also able to get to know each other. By the end of the day, the 4 kids in my group and I were sharing in-jokes and lots of good-natured ribbing, which will undoubtedly continue throughout the coming year. All in all, I think it was a great day for everyone involved and served to strengthen the bonds between staff, volunteers and the kids a considerable deal as well as give many of the kids an opportunity to go to Six Flags for the first time. I'm certain that each kid who went this year will want to go again next year and will probably relate their experiences with other friends and family members who are also involved with the program (or could be!), giving them another incentive to stay involved with the program in the coming year and reap the many benefits of engaging directly in a tutoring/mentoring relationship!

hasta la proxima!

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