Saturday, September 17, 2011


Pronounced GOOZ-burry with a Sevier County accent, Gooseberry is a beautiful campground in the Fishlake National Forest. It's an overnight field trip, adventure-camp, a rite of passage for every 3rd grader in the area. If you didn't grow up here you might think it strange to take a class of 8 year old kids, keep them overnight in the mountains, and scare the pants off them with a fireside telling of the legend of "Annie Bangs," the crazy lady who haunts the campground... It's weird really, but it's what we do. I went up as a parent helper and except for miserable sleeping conditions it was a pretty great time.
After a bus ride up to the campground, we all had lunch, and went on a nature treasure hunt. We found animal tracks, animal homes, and explored the stream.
Later the whole grade was divided up into groups and sent in rotation to different wilderness classes. I loved this part! This is education at it's best. Somehow, instead of 15 or 20 like the others, my group ended up with only 3 kids! Lucky us. I lovingly called them my Navy Seals, my Elite Special Forces, the Gifted and Talented, the Cream of the Crop.
FORESTRY: We learned to identify all the trees in the area from aspens to firs to spruces. Then the kids got to measure diameters and heights of the trees using some awesome tools. We had another class at the stream where we learned about water pollution and what makes a healthy or unhealthy stream.
The policemen and dispatch presented to the kids and Smokey the Bear came. This is Brynn's class.
Boondoggle and other crafts.
2 other moms convinced me it was WAY better to sleep in a tent than in the stuffy cabins. That might have been true if it wasn't FREEZING cold, and if our air mattresses didn't deflate in the middle of the night. Oh well, we're tough. We took this picture because we set up the tent ourselves, no instructions, no men. We're women and we're awesome like that.
"Once upon a time there was a little family that lived up here in the woods...TRAGICALLY the family didn't survive the winter...but where was little Annie?...they searched and searched but she was NEVER FOUND... BUT THEN campers started noticing things would go missing...especially RED things...ESPECIALLY right here in this campground.... THERE SHE IS!!!
And if the kids weren't already about to pee their pants, there appears a freakish lady in a red flowing dress, with crazy white hair, running through the trees. She darts back and forth as the kids point and scream. Then she gets closer and actually GRABS kids and takes them with her....where they are never heard from again. Okay not that last part but she does grab and release. One kid yelled, "I PEED MY PANTS!"
After all that it's--Time for bed! Sweet dreams everyone!! Especially you kids who don't have parents up here with you!!! Hope you're not wearing RED pajamas!!!!!
More classes the next day. FIRE and ATV safety.
The kids learned about prehistoric life and then tried their hand at atlatl throwing. We learned about ecology, habitats. In the wildlife class we learned to identify different animal tracks and how to use your 5 senses to appreciate the beauties of the forest.

Our special ops team found Annie Bangs hideout.

Brynn with her 2 neighborhood friends. We had a great time and we're glad we all survived the infamous 3rd grade field-trip to Gooseberry.


cold cocoa said...

Looks fun! Lucky 3rd graders.

Megz said...

I don't think I'd let my 3rd grader go there without me! Too much like boy scout camp. Sounds fun though.

Sher said...

Who came up with that tradition? as a third grader I would have needed my mom for sure! Sounds like an adventure