A’s end-of-year class trip was four days at The Farm, a 1,000-acre property on the east coast of New Zealand. I chaperoned and found NZ lushness, allergies, cold showers, my boy feeling confident on a dirtbike and a horse, and lots of shiny marbles.
Let’s work backwards. A place like The Farm attracts a fair amount of young people traipsing through NZ, most with the WWOOFER system. They are bright free-rolling stones, on a break before, during, or after formal education. They are interested in other people and other ways of life, empathetic in outlook and action, and they make me very hopeful that across the world, the up-and-comers are better than ever.
I met a 22-year-old from the U.S. who had gotten a full-ride scholarship for college, graduated, and then used her babysitting money (saved from the time she was 11) to fly to NZ to have a long-postponed adventure. She’s discovered on The Farm how much she likes working with kids and how much she enjoys learning about marine biology, so when she heads back to the States, she’ll re-train and begin the next part of life.
The bookshelves in the main room were filled with an eclectic assortment of double-duty insulation and reading material!
A’s favorite free-time activity was foosball. He was really good at it.
The Australian version of Monopoly.
They had a quick knot-tying course and a raft-building challenge…let’s just say they wouldn’t have made it far from shore on the open sea.
The beach day was held in a protected little quiet cove with a beautiful sandy beach.
Tidepooling. The kids found some kina (I know them as sea urchins). They smashed them open with a rock, rinsed out the purple slimy guts, and slurped up the yellow eggs inside. Not all the kids ate them, even though the ones who did were slurping with gusto and saying, “That’s nice.” ‘Nice’ as an adjective for food is like saying ‘delicious’ or ‘yummy.’ The teacher said she ate them as a kid but now they just taste like snot.
A found a mollusk that attached to his hand.
There was quite a bit of free time for games of tiggy, etc.
Horse riding was a positive experience.
So was riding the dirtbikes.
The last night we were there was a campfire cookout, with several teams competing to see which one could bring a can of water to boil fastest. Of course ours was a beetroot can (sliced beetroots on hamburgers is a thing here).
Once we got down to cooking coals, hamburgers and eggs sizzled.
They gave the kids a treat I’d never heard of before–damper. The people there said, “Yeah, it’s a New Zealand thing.” A little internet sleuthing tells me that damper comes from Australia, where they made this quick bread over the coals out in the bush. The kids at The Farm wrapped a hunk of dough around a thinnish stick and cooked it for about 20 minutes, until it spun easily and was cooked through. Then they slid it off the stick, turned it upside down, and poured maple syrup in the hole. A really, really, liked his.