I ended up riding up to the Island with Allen's family and now I'm camping with them.
As I've explained, there's a gap of a few weeks between the Beltane and the beginning of the summer semester--for most of us, we use the time to take a couple of workshops. The masters take a few days off and write up the student evaluations for the spring classes. So. But the yearlings spend two weeks of that gap on a certain island in a kind of retreat--they camp as a group and get to know each other. The masters (except for Greg) go to the Island with them and teach a series of workshops there. When not teaching, they're more or less on their own retreat--the masters don't camp with the students.
Anyway, Charlie's workshop includes a couple of educational hikes, but there are too many yearlings to fit manageably into a single hiking group. So Charlie divides the group in half and has an assistant lead the other group. Last year, I trained to be his assistant, and now here I am on the Island in that capacity again.
But I can't camp with the yearlings, because they're supposed to be bonding with each other as a group. And I can't camp with the masters, for the same reason, more or less. I was afraid I'd end up having to camp by myself, but fortunately Allen's family goes up to the Island at the same time and they said I could stay with them. They'll stay on after the retreat is over, so the whole family can have a vacation together and I'll head back to campus with the yearlings.
I got up here a few days ago, talked through the walk with Charlie (he does exactly the same program every year, which does make things easier for me), and hiked the routes myself to see if anything on the trails had changed that I would need to talk about--there wasn't.
Today I did the first of the hikes. I was a lot less nervous this year than last--I've done it before now, of course, and the whole idea of me leading part of a workshop seems less alien. It actually helps that I don't know most of the yearlings. Charlie's told me that there's no problem with teaching your friends--if they're really your friends they'll respect you--but it's a little tricky to maintain both roles and it's easier not to have to deal with that when you get started. Anyway, the other hikes I have to do are tomorrow and the next day.
After that, I don't have anything particular to do. I don't know whether I'll stay the whole time or head back by bus--Charlie has encouraged me to spend some time exploring the island on my own, learning as much as I can, so next year I'll be able to answer questions at more depth. It occurs to me this is a lot of effort to put into an assistant who's only going to be available one more year, but of course I'm still a student--part of the point of all of this is to further my education, as well as that of the yearlings.
You know, I really like it here. I like the sea and I like the mountains. I like the forests and the plants there, which are different than the plants back on campus--I notice things like that now, it makes the entire place seem exotic. I like coming here in the early spring, which is what May is here--the trees haven't broken bud yet, most of them. When I go back to campus, everything will seem explosively lush in comparison.
I don't know, I don't have much else to say. I'm just having a good time.