With thunderstorms rumbling through the Twin Cities, the Bayou class of 3rd and 4th graders quickly packed the bus, hightailed it out of the city and headed down to YMCA Lake Pepin for our class overnight trip in early May.

After getting settled, our first mission was to explore the beach and to check out where the big rock was this year. Last year, it was out in the water due to extensive flooding. But this year, it was right where it was supposed to be- on the beach and waiting to be sat upon.The kids immediately began combing the beach for flat skipping rocks.

Small groups participated in each of the four classes that were offered by the adult chaperones on the trip.

  • David took his groups into the woods to find and build forts out of fallen branches.
  • Paulette and Leslie helped students create a scrapbook page.
  • Tom and his groups went in search of bugs and their homes.
  • Steve also went into the woods on nature hikes and to look for birds.

Our first encounter with a camp mammal was a bat that was sleeping right above the door to our cabin. We didn’t bother him and he left us alone. Many butterflies, birds, caterpillars, gnats, ducks, spiders and a couple of eagles were observed throughout the two days.

By 4:30, everyone was ready for more beach time. Many of the students continued to collect flat rocks and tried to perfect their skipping skills. Others became interested in finding small pieces of wood and created “boats” that they set out in the lake to sail. Others built elaborate harbors on the edge of the lake.

And we started a beautiful collection of rocks that was displayed on a cut log for all to admire-and desire! It was fun to watch the students move up and down the beach as they explored all there was to do.

Around 5:00, I took the dinner crew back to the cabin. They cut, buttered and shredded to create a spaghetti dinner for 23 people. Other students helped set up the tables, cups, and spaghetti blankets for dinner. I think that everybody had enough to eat and the meatballs and garlic bread were a big hit. We also ate more salad than we usually do on the overnight.

The clean-up crews did a fabulous job of washing and drying all of the dishes and seeing to the garbage.


After dinner we went back to the beach in hopes of having a campfire. The camp personnel and David worked hard to start one despite the wet wood. But just as we were getting ready to start our marshmallow roast, we heard thunder and saw lightning off in the distance. I decided that we should get inside and abandon the campfire plans. Although we were disappointed, we were soon having fun and laughing our heads off in the balloon game.

In the balloon game, each student wrote a secret about themselves on a piece of paper and then folded it very small. We put the secrets into the balloons and blew them up.

Then everybody took turns trying to break a balloon without using their hands, feet or mouth.When the balloon broke, they needed to find the secret and guess who it belonged to. We laughed and laughed and learned lots more about each other. There are people who don’t like cotton candy or caramel- can you imagine!

Next, we had “raw” s’mores in the cabin- tasty, less messy and still sugary. Then it was teeth-brushing and jammies time. I read from our current read-aloud book, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. I love this book because it is funny, has many sports references and addresses significant issues from a twelve year olds point of view.

Then it was off to bed (around 9:30ish) and some reading by flashlight time. The kids settled down right away and slept fairly well through the night. There were some complaints of how hot was and how loud the trains were but most did sleep.

At 6 am, on the dot, I was joined by a couple of early birds. We chatted quietly until a few more joined us and then it was time for the Kids’ Book of Questions. It was fun to hear their responses to silly and thought provoking questions- many of which ended with”and I would eat lots of candy!”

Breakfast was at 8am-pancakes and sausage (veggie sausage too) and then we had our last class. It was still beautiful outside- bright sun, cool temperature. We went back down to the beach to play some more and some of the kids shot hoops and played kickball.

Then it was time to pack up and clean up. Everybody did their part. We vacuumed, swept, and wiped down counters and tabletops to spiff the place up for the next campers.

Lunch was delicious- we had our favorite grilled cheese, tomato soup and salad bar. And for desert we had freshly baked M and M cookies. The cook was very nice and commented on how many vegetarians we had in our group. She wanted to make sure that we had enough of the right kind of food for our kids. She told me that 750 students from Farmington are coming this week and none of them have said they are vegetarian. We appreciated her efforts.

Back to the beach one more time before we heard Rebecca arrive with the bus. We reluctantly said goodbye to all of the boats, harbors, rock collections, and skippers. I know that I have forgotten many details and you probably want to ask your student for more details.

Thank you for allowing me to have your children for the overnight. We are all closer and know each other a little more. I love to watch them come together as a caring and supportive community to play and learn and to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Lake Pepin area.

A big thank you to David, Leslie, Steve, Tom, and Paulette for helping to make this a great trip.


Kak, 3rd & 4th grade teacher