It was a perfect morning. The sun was shining through my window and the birds were busy in the backyard. Both dogs still lay by the bed and I was shocked that I had actually slept straight through to 6:15 AM. On any “normal” day, I would be up and getting ready to leave the house, or already gone, for some sort of rigging job, an install of some kind, or a Wells Fargo Bank hold up button gig.
Jude, my youngest son, was right behind me. I could sense his excitement as he milled about the house. He is twelve going on nineteen. His thirteenth birthday is December 4, 2019. He was busy making himself something to eat. He was happy to talk about what he expected from the day and he was a little nervous.
“I can’t believe that Cook is paying for you to go to the Ropes Course with me, Dad. That’s so cool!”
“It’s pretty special.” I replied.
By the time we got to school, there were a few people all ready busy in the courtyard. Stone Bridge School is a Napa valley Unified School District Charter School that teaches the Waldorf Method.
There were a handful of parents standing around the classroom door. Mrs. Z was greeting students and parents alike and explaining to them that Mr. Pond (that’s me!) was the chaperone for the day. Sure there were parent drivers for the field trip, but only one chaperone. I had explained to Mrs. Z that I was working for the day and that my company, Cook Security Group, was sponsoring me for eight hours of Cook Community Building time.
The Rope Course was held at Heron Lake Challenge Ropes Course in Napa Valley. They spent the rocks, passing squeaking fake animals, and laughing, lots of laughing. It was clear that the kids were bonding with different kids as they were challenged to use their minds. One game required a child to face away from the circle. This child could use his/her voice while they took hand signal instructions from another child, who could not speak, to guide a blindfolded child to a certain object.
Now imagine ten teams of three shouting, walking into each other and realizing that the child pointing to the left was really the vocal kid’s right side. I helped facilitate the kids by trying to intercept the blindfolded kids in the circle from crashing into each other. After the lunch break, we got right to it.
I helped the instructors get the kids fitted for harnesses, helmets and kept them in line. The instructors were so patient and caring for the thirty kids, Mrs. Z and me. I was asked to put on a harness, but I declined as I have been sky diving worked for AT&T climbing poles, and was once a fire fighter in the USAF. . My place was on the ground to help kids with difficulties, emotional needs (believe me, there are a bunch when you’re asking kids to climb poles and fall off of them), and all around support.
I became a cheerleader of sorts. Some kids were hesitant to climb and be involved. Other kids were frozen as they approached a transition on their climbs, and other kids, like Jude were destroying the course, unafraid to turn upside down on their descents, and taking risks to leap from one platform to another knowing that the ropes were going to hold them fast.
It became emotional when some of the kids that have lower self esteem pushed themselves farther to the chants and cheers of their class peers; “You can do it, Fin! We believe in you!” Mrs. Z found herself at the top of one portion hesitant to move on while Rafael was on another section facing her, struggling to move out over the rope bridge. They stood together, about twenty feet apart and separated by about ten feet in elevation. They stopped. Looked at each other and the class, as a whole, began chanting their names in unison. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a group of people cheer on those that can’t or feel they are incapable.
“Mrs. Z! Rafael! Mrs. Z! Rafael!” they chanted in unison, while a couple of the kids were chanting, “We believe in you! You can do it!”
I took as many pictures as my phone would allow before it died. I sent many iMessages out to parents that I am close with as I witnessed their kids do amazing things conquering fears and building confidence. They were all so supportive of each other and I feel so blessed to have witnessed this day. I am not sure who got more out of the day… the kids? Or me? Thank you Brian and Craig for allowing such events to be covered by pay, with the CCB Hours.
Today was day of gratefulness for me. I am proud of my son, Jude, and all thirty of the kids in his class. I am blessed that Cook paid for me to witness and be a part of the community that I love so much. I have worked for a lot of companies in my life; some as big as AT&T and others with only 45 employees, like Mira Mobile Television as an Engineer in Charge of a TV truck. But I have never been given paid time to work at my children’s school for the benefit of the school community at large.