Last week we took the kids on my last overnight field trip. We had a long ride on the bus to a roller coaster park called Energy Landia, and about 3 hours into the ride I notice the name of the city were driving through–Oświęcim. Now that might not seem like a significant town name to you, but I’m sure you’d recognize the name in German.
“Hey,” I ask my co-worker. “Are we near Auschwitz?”
Yeah, about 20 kilometers from Auschwitz is a theme park for children. What a lovely way to begin a field trip.
But besides its dubious location, Energy Landia is everything you might want from a theme park–not too crowded (this is Poland, not Disneyland) with a reasonable 20-30 minute wait for most roller coasters. The kids had a great time, I had to go on the log ride twice (they wouldn’t let my students go without an adult) so I got completely soaked, from my hair to my shoes. The kids paid too much for new fidget spinners, even though I told them the price was inflated. But they didn’t listen because kids are not good at delayed gratification.
Everything was going great on that first day–then around 8 pm, the kids were playing on the hotel playground because it was still light out, and one kid fell on the rocks, skinning his knee. Which is a pretty normal injury, but then we noticed that the skin was straight up coming off in globs, and decided it was best to have a doctor check it out. At the hospital. Which was 20 kilometers away. And our chartered bus driver had already settled in for the night with his beer, which meant he was no good to drive and we had to call an ambulance.
Don’t worry, the kid was fine, he just got 6 stitches in his knee. (He actually popped his stitches climbing a tree less than a week later.) It was much better than the first trip I went on, where two students threw up from motion sickness, one threw up from a stomach virus, and one had a bloody gash on his head from colliding with a metal overhang. That was truly the field trip from hell, and the point of comparison for the success of all other field trips.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful–we fed animals in a petting zoo, went to a famous Polish animation studio, and climbed a mountain all the way to the Czech border. Well, we didn’t actually climb up the mountain, because the guide said that takes adults about 3-4 hours, and no way were a bunch of eight and nine year olds going to be able to do it. So we took the ski lift and hiked the last 2 kilometers.
The most amazing part of these field trips is that we’re even able to have them. In the US, children this young would be considered too a big a risk to take on long trips, especially where they seem to be constantly injuring themselves in places quite far from any hospitals. Even though these trips are hella tiring and I would honestly rather be able to stay home and drink after work, I am grateful I got to take them and see other ways of raising and educating children. I am going to miss these kids, and there are no other children I would rather be stuck in the Polish wilderness with.