Saturday, September 18, 2010

Georgia on my mind, and under my feet

We had a couple requests to continue this blog after getting home from South America, so here it is...

We made it to Georgia! For those of you who didn't already know, we accepted jobs at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center near Eatonton, GA (between Atlanta and Augusta, south of Athens), for the fall term. We're teaching environmental education and teambuilding to groups, mostly school groups, who come to the center. Rock Eagle is the largest of the five 4-H centers in Georgia, and can hold up to 1000 people overnight. Most of our groups stay two or three days, but we occasionally have a day group or a full-week group.

Some of the classes that Jeff and I teach are lake ecology (we make sure the kids are filthy by the end of that class), forest ecology, watershed studies, herpetology (it will take me a while to be comfortable enough with the snakes and alligators to teach that one, but that's my big goal for the term), Native American skills, Native American games, pioneer tools, campfires, orienteering, challenge course, and teambuilding. We've only had one group so far, so we've only taught lake ecology and teambuilding, and next week is fairly slow. But soon enough, we'll be in full swing.

We live on campus in a house with four bedrooms (we get two) and shared kitchen/living space. There are four houses with three to four people living in each, all right next to each other, so it's one big block party several times a week :-) Actually, there isn't a huge amount of partying going on, but we're hanging out at each others' houses a lot. The team is awesome, and we're both learning a lot from our coworkers.

The commute is 10 to 20 minutes walking, complete with trails through the woods and a foot bridge over the lake.

Staff training was two and a half weeks, although we missed almost the entire first week because we were getting back from Peru and then moving from Kentucky. A couple days were "all-staff training," when the rest of the 4-H centers' staff came to Rock Eagle so we could party- uh, train together. After the first day of all-staff training, we had a pool party in the pool with the waterslide (there are two pools, so that's how we specify).

We're meeting other friends, too:

Jeff and I are at a slight disadvantage because of the four days of training we missed, so we don't know how to teach some of the classes. Fortunately, everyone is very friendly and helpful, so we're catching up, class-by-class. We took over a full Saturday of Lester's time for a canoe class.

We got the how-to-right-a-swamped-canoe training, for which another staff member and neighbor, Brian, joined in:

Lester took no pity on us and made us do every exercise the rest of the class had done, including having two people tip two canoes and right them without help:

Jeff didn't need a whole lot of help. He's that good. So I hung out quite a bit while he did the heavy lifting.

We did manage to right both canoes, and were happy about our accomplishment...

... and then Lester told us they both had to be dry in the bottom. We had to tip one again, but we got it.

After our private canoeing class, we took advantage of our access to the pool with the waterslide, and a few others joined us. Jeff -loves- waterslides.

We were asked if we wanted to be available for assisting the high ropes course, which mostly consists of safety checks and belaying climbers. I went through most of the training, but couldn't get myself psyched enough to finish (more on my energy level in a bit). Jeff, however, was the first to finish the training, and became everyone else's practice monkey, climbing the wall several times so others could practice belaying him.

This from the guy who's afraid of heights.

The only thing not going swimmingly is that I brought a friend home from Peru, in my belly. The stomach troubles that made it so I couldn't do the Choquequirao hike haven't totally gone away. It's not as bad as it was when it started in Peru, but I'm definitely slowed down some, and my stomach sometimes decides to be grumpy. We're trying to figure out what's up, so hopefully I'll soon be better. The worst part is actually fighting with the insurance companies. Wish me luck!

I hope all is well with all of you, and sorry for taking so long to write this up. We've been a little busy :-) Cheers!


  1. Thank you so much for catching us up on your adventures! You are right, it is very beautiful there and it sounds like you're learning a lot. Keep it up!

  2. Hi Jeff and Kate, I finally got to see these latest photos and posts. What fun! I'm glad you are doing the alligators, flipping canoes, and climbing walls. I was never good at any of that sort of thing--More of a vicarious adventurer in books I guess. Love you lots!--Mom