So this week has been different for us. My oldest daughter is off on a school class trip for 8 days. Wow, 8 days with her class!...As an American parent, this was a different concept for me - not necessarily her going away (she has done weekends with Girl Scouts last year) but it's 8 days and with her whole class. This kind of school trip is very common with French Schools - they are often called Classe Neige (Snow/skiing trip) or Class Verte (Spring hiking trip). I haven't quite figured out if only certain teachers do trips or if the trips are at set levels...Anyway she left on Tuesday morning - bright and early - 6:45 am on a bus and off to the Pyrenees Mountains for a week of hiking, learning and touring the area. Our house has been a little quieter and her younger sisters miss her and keep asking when she's coming back.
Let me back up a little - packing her and getting ready for this trip was a feat in itself. They were allowed one good size bag and a backpack. We were given an inventory list - which we needed to check off and send with her. The hope is everything that goes with her comes home!...For a week of hiking and being outdoors, with weather that can be warm or cold, she needed a lot of things!...We also needed to invest in a good pair of hiking boots.and some rugged hiking shorts & pants. (For a fashionable young lady..these item were not generally part of her wardrobe.)..A couple of "fun" things on the list was Shampooing anti-poux (Lice shampoo) and a Doudou (teddy bear or special small animal for sleeping). Most everything else was pretty predictable and I was amazed that I understood pretty much everything on the list...The only other item which I needed translation for was a K-Way...yes, that wasn't readily in my French vocabulary..it's an anorak!
So off they went to Saint Lary-Soulan, in the Pyrenees!..I found the following photo on the Internet as I googled images of Saint Lary. What a beautiful place to be spending a week! One more thing...parents are not allowed on these trips - it's just the teacher and counselors at the recreation center where they are staying.
Now, she is still there as I write this posting - but due to modern technology and a wonderful teacher, we have been able to vicariously enjoy her trip. Her teacher sends parents nightly emails with photos! This has been wonderful and as a parent it is extremely reassuring! So the following photos are credited to my daughter's teacher.
Here they are arriving on their first day. They are staying at a residential recreation center - so are provided linens and have bunks in the rooms. My daughter is sharing her room with 3 other girls. They were told that they will need to make their beds each day and organize their belongings before they head out for the day. This is great for my daughter as organization is not her strong suit! Trial by fire as they say...
Now this is a class trip, during school - so they do have some classroom time built into their days. Apparently, classroom time is not everyday - but they are graded on many aspects of this trip. Very authentic learning.
So after hiking for the morning, as her teacher said - "Postcard views" awaited them. Certainly a beautiful hike and such a breathtaking place! My daughter has her camera with her - so I can't wait to see more photos. I think I have a very lucky 11 year old! - No, I know I have a very lucky 11 year old!
In between hiking, they toured a local firehouse and learned about the passion of being a volunteer fireman. They also toured an underground cavern and went to a farm to learned about goats milk and how to make cheese. Cheese - a French staple!
For their second hike, they started off at the station de Piau Engaly which is part-way up the mountain - and then hiked up to Badet Lake. Again, this took the morning and early afternoon. I can imagine that most of these kids sleep really well at night with their days packed full of hikes and many other adventures!
I feel like we are very lucky that she gets to experience this trip. This whole concept of school trips is really interesting and apparently very much a part of French education. My husband remembers participating in a few of these trips while he was growing up.
So back in Bordeaux, we have had a quiet weekend. Just doing things around the house and my younger girls attended a friend's birthday party. Today in France is Fete Des Meres - (Mother's Day). For us, we postponed our family celebration until we can be all together - but in honor of a special day, I decided to cook a nice dinner - went off to the Pessac Market this morning - Found some wonderful Cuisses de Canard (Duck Thigh legs) and baked them in the oven in red wine, broth, carrots and onions. Have to say the dish tasted as good as it looked!...The recipe can be found here - Cuisses de Canard Au Four. I served this with Sarladaise potatoes - fried potatoes in duck fat. Very tasty!
So off to start another week - and wait for Tuesday dinner for my oldest to return! The parents are providing a buffet dinner at the school upon their return! Should be a lot of fun!