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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     I don’t know if very many people caught the news story this past week about a “nature camp” in Massachusetts that made the news because of it’s a little to realistic portrayal of slavery in this nation. According to the news report middle school students were taken to this camp at which point they were berated by the staff, told that they had just seen their fathers killed and were then separated and “sold” to local “plantation owners”.

Throughout the course of the night the students were told they would be beaten or hanged for offenses such as talking back, disobeying orders or attempting to escape. They were even at one point chained in a line and made to work together. At midnight, the group was introduced to “kind northerners” who introduced them to the Underground Railroad. Select group of students then were urged to “escape” and were chased through the dense forest at night with recorded sounds of blood hounds being played on speakers by their flashlight waving “captors”.

     Once the students had been lead for some time to a safe house, the group was then allowed to come up with a plan to reach Canada and safety and given time to debrief and discuss what they had experienced. Overall, in looking at this, I can see it being an interesting way to not only teach about slavery in the United States, but a way for students to actually feel the emotions associated with it. In case any of you are wondering, the black students who took part actually felt that the experience let them understand truly what had taken place because “that was so long ago that it really just seems like something you read about in a book, and really doesn’t apply to my life now.”

     History is something that we need to look at in both terms of the past and present, for as it has been said those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. The knowledge gained by making history come alive not only gives us an insight into the time, but also lets it become something real and just not words on a page in some long forgotten book where the victors decide what is written. Bring into the fold that most learning occurs when the lessons are first hand and I look at this camp as an interesting way of bringing the past alive, much in the way that re-enactors ply their trade to keep that period alive.

     As you would guess not everyone was so enthused, especially said “helicopter parent” who was so shocked that her precious snowflake has had to endure such hardship as being yelled at and threatened, that she has now filed a lawsuit against the school district and the camp. Seriously folks? Has it really come to this? Are we really that concerned that our children can’t handle a little in your face history from a point in our country where hundreds of thousands of people died in order to settle one question? Do you honestly believe that your child can’t handle icky nasty realities of life?

     Oh no, we should shelter then so much that they never ever have to feel one stitch of emotion. And if you believe that is the way that the world and parenting works let me tell you that not only are you incorrect you are a fool. I would bet my last pudding cup that the snowflake in this story has no problem going to a horror movie on Saturday night and suffers nothing from watching violence on HBO. It reminds me of the kids whose parents wouldn’t sign the permission slip to attend “the talk” in middle school. Yeah, like that stopped them from having adult relations before they were married.

     At some point we need to stop being so dumb and actually understand that learning a lesson in a controlled environment is always better than learning lessons the hard way. And as for the parent in the above story, by lodging your complaint, you’ve only shown that you really aren’t paying attention to what goes on in your snowflakes life, because as it came out in the story, not only has the school done this exact trip for the last five years, but that they even sent home information and a permission slip. Just because you’re not involved in the life of your student, or they don’t care to share information with you, doesn’t mean that when your soft sensabilites have been dented that you have the option to be a dork at the expense of other people. Perhaps in the end, the one being sued here should be the parent, and the punishment should be having to actually take a real interest in what their child does every single day. Isn’t that “punishment” what we as parents should be doing all along anyway?

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.