Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Field trip, anyone?

What was the last field trip you went on?  While teaching in Pennsylvania, the last field trip I attended was a day at one of the performing arts centers in downtown Pittsburgh, watching a play about Math.  Exciting stuff.  (Cough)

The options here are a bit different.  Here’s the agenda of the field trip we took last weekend.  The 9th and 10th grade boys Sunday School class goes on a camping/boys-to-men trip every year. 

7:00am – load two buses with 72 9th and 10th grade boys and 10 men as chaperones.

8:00am – Arrive at a local primary school in the Rift Valley.  Begin working on the day’s service project – laying the foundation for a new school building.  350 students attend in the current facility that would fit easily inside half of RVA’s gymnasium.  Below is a picture of one of the classrooms.  Every day 47 students (26 girls and 21 boys) cram inside, hoping one day they’ll test high enough to proceed past grade 8. 


DSCN6088My fellow teachers, next time you’re tempted to complain about the quality/age of your textbooks, maybe try counting your blessings instead!


It was no small task to keep 72 high-schoolers busy, but with enough shovels and a few hours of training, they really seemed to get the hang of mixing, pouring and grading the concrete – by 3:30 in the afternoon we had accomplished our goal: a concrete slab about 20 by 40 feet.



DSCN6096Boys becoming men, and getting dirty in the process!


DSCN6078These boys will be too old by the time the new school building is finished.  Most are in year 7 or 8 already.

4:00pm – Head to camp.  The head security guard at RVA is from the Maasai tribe and his family owns a decent plot of land down in the valley, not far from the school where we worked.  We spread out our things in the vicinity of an acacia tree (hard to fit 82 people under the same tree), and then we got ready for the goats.

DSCN6117The closest I’ll come to a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin for a while is sleeping on a tarp that advertises one!

4:30pm – Goat slaughter.  Two had already been butchered earlier in the day and were being boiled in a stew we would enjoy later.  But three unlucky beasts had the displeasure of being chased down by a bunch of crazy teenagers and dragged to their execution.  It was quite a scene!

DSCN6115poor little fella…

DSCN6116Everyone wanted a front row seat for the spectacle.  Their only regret was that they were only allowed to kill three!

DSCN6120Nothing like goat cooking over a open fire :)  The boys made sure each goat-part was taste-tested.  Their own version of missionary peer pressure.  I didn’t get anymore adventurous than trying a slice of the heart – tasted like a well-prepared steak.

6:30pm – Eat!  A goat slaughter is a great community event in Kenya.  Nyama choma, it’s called, and everyone comes out to enjoy.  Chapatis (so good!), mashed potatoes, goat (grilled and stewed), and cabbage were on the menu.

8:00pm – PRESENTS!  Each of the guys (and leaders) got a Maasai blanket, called a shika, as a gift.  Very cool – lots of us wore it to school on Monday.


8:30pm – Devotions.  One of the leaders shared from Nehemiah about building things for God that last, even amidst criticism or lack of support.

9:30pm – Spring hare hunting.  Although I didn’t partake in this activity, it consists of going out into the bush with flashlights and finding rabbits.  By blinding them with your lights, apparently you can stun them to the point where chasing them down is a small possibility.  It ended up providing one of the best stories of the weekend.  Being pitch-black out due to cloud cover all night, one unlucky 10th grader was in hot pursuit of a hare right over the side of a cliff (rumored to be anywhere from 30 to 100 feet tall, depending on who’s telling the story!)  Thankfully he was able to walk away with nothing more than a sore hip and an injured pride.

10:30pm – Lights out.  Except that there is no electricity anywhere near where we camped, so I guess “flashlights out” is better.

– Wake-up!  Do your best to recover from sleeping on the ground and breath another “Thank you, Lord” for keeping the hyenas away and not allowing the local giraffe herd to walk too close during the night. 

8:30am – Chai and mandazis for breakfast.  Very good, but very little…HUNGRY!

9:30am – Pow-Wow with the Maasai elders.  These guys were the real deal.  They shared with us about many things from their culture:  becoming a man, family life and responsibilities, hunting for lions – all very interesting.  The boys were allowed to ask any question they wanted.  After all our questions, the elders had a few questions for us!

The funniest came from their confusion about our relationship to women.  “When your wife does something wrong, do you punish her?”  or  “Why do white men want to hold hands and kiss their women?”  Overall, it was a great and eye-opening experience for all :)



11:30am – Depart for RVA.  All in all it was a great trip – had a lot of fun getting to know some of my students outside the gates of RVA.  It was fun remembering what its like to be a teenager, and experiencing the adventure of camping through their eyes and in Africa for the first time.  I look forward to taking my own boys someday on trips like this, maybe killing a few things, and risking our well-being together as we bond like men.  Should be a good time.

So the next time you’re looking into field trip opportunities for a class or youth group or whomever, drop me a line and I’ll see what we can arrange here in Africa for you!


  1. now that's what i call a Field Trip. my boys (and let's be honest, my husband) are going to love this.

    ps still trying to imagine the plot line for a play about math.

  2. your nephew Isaac is all there with you. He says, Uncle Dan I want to do too!!!!
    your niece Lizzy is not crazy about the goat killing. thanks for sharing. our last field trip was splash lagoon not nearly as adventurous as this.
    sister says, she is glad the hyena weren't out and the giraffes. love you bro.

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