Saturday, April 14, 2012

Return to Catalina

Isthmus Cove, Catalina Island, California ~Our ship sits at anchor

I'm not sure where this post is heading, but here goes.

I just returned from chaperoning my school's annual sixth grade field trip to Catalina Island. We sailed from Long Beach, California aboard the American Pride for a four-day marine science study trip. The children were taken snorkeling, kayaking, and tide pooling. We set foot on land only twice, once our first day, and then all day the day before we return to the mainland. I posted about this trip last year and discussed conquering some of my fears. (June, 2011; Catalina)

This year, I did not conquer any fears. I was not motivated to. Do I still have some? Yes. Did I feel like conquering them? Not really. I had gone snorkeling once before. I did not attempt it here. Last time, it was not a pleasant experience. I was on vacation with my first partner in Walt Disney World at one of the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon, which has a swim through shark tank. I had minimal instruction, barely five minutes, and was told to move along to make room for the next group. I kept trying to breathe through my nose, which is not advisable since the mask covers your nose. I didn't have the time to practice breathing through the snorkel. Needless to say, I swam quickly through the tank. So, why didn't I try it again here? Maybe I didn't want to relive that past experience, and was afraid to panic in front of the students, many of whom were panicking themselves, either out of fear of being bitten by a Great White Shark or some other critter or a fear of drowning. How can I comfort them when I am panicking myself?

Last year, I didn't go kayaking and swore to myself I would the next time. So, why didn't I? I had two opportunities. Once, when we were on the beach at White's Landing, I could have taken a kayak out alone in a protected cove, in clear view of the ship's crew and students and practiced. The second opportunity was when the students went out with two of the crew for about an hour in the open water. Why didn't I go?

I have never been one for swimming in non-chlorinated water or where I couldn't see what I was stepping on, especially after stepping in some slimy algae-like stuff that oozed up through my toes as a child. As an adult, I should just get over myself and wear water shoes which, ironically, I have. And last year we went in June when the water was just a little warmer. This year, we went in April.

So, why didn't I take advantage of those opportunities to conquer these fears? Maybe I wasn't ready to.

Or, as the sole male chaperone, I slept aboard ship in the same cabin as the male students, and therefore would be with them for up to eighty consecutive hours. At school, I do get a break from them and they do go home at the end of the day. So, maybe I just needed a break from them.

Or, maybe I just didn't want to get wet this year.

Sunrise over the Catalina Channel


  1. I believe sometimes a trip is just a trip. Not every moment must be filled with life lessons. :-)

  2. Very good point. Maybe my lesson was not to be so analytical of myself, and just relax and enjoy myself. Now go enjoy your trip!

  3. I agree with Gregory. It would be nice if every moment in life is filled with some important lesson, but it doesn't always need to be. You weren't there to learn lessons or conquer fears, you were there to chaperone students who were probably dealing with their own. It'll happen next time, Jeff, when you're ready for it. :)

    1. Thanks, Sean. So, maybe the lesson I learned wasn't on the trip itself, but back home; there doesn't have to be a lesson in everything. I just need to learn to relax.

  4. Yeah, this trip was a bit off in its scheduling and chaperoning that group probably needed to be the focus.

    1. Yes, Kim, you're right. And a couple of them needed very close supervision. We may not be invited back because of them. Time will tell.

  5. So I love this post--it made me smile. I think you're overthinking a bit. Maybe you didn't do any of that because you didn't FEEL like doing any of it. Why doesn't really matter.

    Then again, your line, "How can I comfort them when I was panicking myself?" was perhaps rather telling and, in truth, my favorite sentence in the piece. You should write a story or something around that line. Or maybe I will ;-)

    I'll offer a bit of (unsolicited) advice as well) from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "DON'T PANIC."

    1. Larry,

      Thank you for reading and commenting, it is greatly appreciated.

      All of your points make good sense, but I have always been a deep thinker especially where emotions are concerned. I want to know why I feel that way. I'm working on it. Maybe too much therapy.

      I'll take your story advice in mind.