Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Operation Squirrel- queso, reading, observing, and sleeping

"May 12 2009 7:10 p.m.

Charlie is up in the tree with me now- just chillin' in the hammock, oscillating in the breeze. Cheryl and Saskia come by with pizza, chips, and queso, and O.J. for the morning. Rob, Lil, Alivia, and Chase come by with bananas and cookies. Nick and Katie are bringing a breakfast burrito tomorrow.

Julie has put on Charlie's harness and is ascending a doubled rope- she's just about made it!

May 12 2009 10:00 p.m.

Julie made it up, sat awhile in the bosun's chair and then in the hammock. She said she thought it seemed secure, like it might even be fun.

I spent a lot of time today rigging the tarp that will hopefully keep me dry tomorrow night. Tomorrow I will rappel to within 10 feet of the ground, clip the bosun's chair to the ascenders, slide into the chair, get off rappel, and teach 8th grade earth science- sedimentary rocks. We'll wrap up rocks on Friday and start the final project. Graduation in three weeks- another year to celebrate.

It's much more subdued tonight- no deer, few cars.

May 13 2009

A salutation from an arriving staff member awoke me from a second night of deep and dreamless sleep. Today is Tuesday and tonight the students have their concert- they are talented performers and I will miss being there to see them shine.

I used to write so much more, and I used to be able to write. I could grift vocabulary, crib turns off phrase, and gain an emphemeral functionality with metaphor, synecdoche, and even irony. But I don't read as much as I used to, even in winter, because I'm always outside, too drawn by opportunities to read the rich text of creation. "Before doors, the outdoors was just called home." And maybe before books, reading was just called listen, wait, empty yourself, observe... and be filled. The kids ask if I get bored the longer I am up here- quite the opposite. I hear the grace notes, the cipher that veils the very stuff of creation is lifted, and extravagance is revealed.

Below me, something is walking around; behind me, a gray tree frog, louder and more persistent; bird song; in four or five varieties, in stereo. I need a Goodwillie fifth grader to identify them all (those kids know their birds).

More people are starting to arrive- time to get out of bed!"


  1. Awesome! I want to learn more about your experiences leading the youth in outdoor camps. I am a youth leader at my church and an elementary school teacher in Chicago. God has placed on my heart to do a biking trip next summer with my youth along with a camping trip. I need to learn from people who have done it before - please take a moment to share with me the do's and donts you have learned from bringing the students to the outdoors. Thank you so much! And by the way, its so wonderful to see you reaching out to the students and connecting them with the peace and beauty of the outdoors. Peace, Valerie -

  2. I have always liked to believe your teachers leave the strongest impressions on your character and the person you become in life. And with teachers like you, my belief is only testified! I wish there were more teachers like you who'd want to educate kids the way they want to and not just adhere to convention. Greetings and best wishes to you, all the way from India. You're one person I will definitely remember for a very very long time.

    (kaushik dot choudhary at gmail dot com)

  3. Mr. Buth, We were happy to see that you were safe and secure this morning! Thank you for all you are doing for us and for this trip. You are awesome! God Bless, Ben, Timmer and mom

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Nice to find you! What an inspiration you are! Best wishes from San Francisco.