Last week, Casey and I set off for three days with 53 sixth graders, 22 chaperones, and two amazing Mission Avenue Open Elementary School sixth grade teachers. I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Martin and Mrs. Carter. They have the best energy and patience for this hormonal and somewhat clueless group of sweet kids. Eleven groups explored San Francisco by foot and public transportation, each with its own group-designed itinerary.
Accommodations at the Adelaide Hostel were very nice, at the amazingly low price of $40 per night for a bed, clean sheets, shower, and a continental breakfast! The students survived on a $40 budget for four meals (including tips) and paid their entrance fees for itinerary destinations out of pre-calculated ticket money.
Group itineraries took the tourists to places like on board the USS Pampanito World War II submarine, the top of Coit Tower, the Musee Mechanique on Fisherman’s Wharf, the “archaeological” ruins of the Sutro Baths, the Cable Car Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge, the DeYoung Art Museum, the Japanese Tea Gardens, Japan Center, the Exploratorium, the California Academy of Sciences, and more.
We met at the Amtrak station bright and early on Tuesday morning. We finally got off Bart and started the trek through the crowded city streets with our bags to the hostel. We had just a few minutes to throw our bag in a room and then we were off to explore the city.
My group, the Crazy Cable Cars, chose the MoMA as our first stop. They were a little uneasy about trying the city bus, so we walked to the museum and then we walked throughout the museum. When we were leaving to head to Pier 39 to see the SS Pampanito World War II submarine, my co-chaperone, Christine and I helped them figure out what bus to get on. At some point you just have to stop walking already.
We arrived at Pier 39 and took in all the sights. We hopped on a bus to COIT tower but it had just closed. We went back the next day and made it to the top. We enjoyed pizza in North Beach and then walked all the way up to Lombard street and ended the day by taking a Cable Car home. It was full and fun day. At night I was able to visit for a tiny bit with Casey before he fell asleep. We shared a bunk in our hostel room with another Mom and son and Mrs. Carter. The kids were exhausted every night. Our group walked 14 miles the second day, so getting them to go to sleep, wasn't an issue. When they got back to the hostel they just had to turn in their journal page of the day.
The next morning my group headed out early to the Exploratorium. This time we caught a bus, hurrah! Casey's group ended up there as well, so I got to see him for a bit. After the museum we went back to COIT tower and then went to Golden Gate park to the Children's Playground. Super cool playground. We got turned around a bit on the bus to find Golden Gate park. We finally found our way back, found an inexpensive Mexican place and then headed back to the hostel. We were grateful for beautiful weather during the day. It did get really chilly every night after 5:30 p.m. Most groups made it back to the hostel by 8 p.m. Everyone had to be back by 9 p.m.
The last day we went to Chinatown. We took a Cable Car again, so fun! We visited the fortune cookie factory, cable car museum, and Portsmouth Square. We enjoyed delicious Chinese food for lunch and then jumped back on a bus to the hostel. We grabbed our stuff and once again trekked through the busy city to the bus station. We took a bus from San Francisco to Emeryville and then caught Amtrak back to Sacramento.
Casey's chaperone sent me the cutest pictures of Casey and his group. I am so grateful!
We got home around dinner time on Thursday night. Pedar picked us up from the train station and made us a delicious dinner as we talked his ear off. But the best part? The best part was seeing Casey's smile in all of the pictures. Hearing from his chaperones that he helped his classmate with autism not get lost and how he was easy going and supportive. I loved running into him a couple of times throughout the trip and I loved his hugs. And then he gave us this....
He went to the fortune cookie factory and used his snack money to make Pedar and I this fortune. My heart smiled and my eyes leaked. I love this boy. Man, I love this boy.
I am so grateful for these Mission trips. I learn right alongside these fantastic kids. Twelve-year-olds are smack in between still being a kid and not quite a kid, and you can tell most of them are struggling with it. It is hard to feel small, but be big. Teachers have to cram so much into a year. They have such an enormous job to get these kids on the right path. Thank you, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Carter for loving these kids. Thank you especially, for loving mine.