Philosophy Trip 2020

middle schoolers tickling each other and having fun

Every year during their 18 day field trips, the middle schoolers of Arthur Morgan School create a blog, documenting their trip. The students post pictures and write about what they did each day. They get to choose what moments they want to highlight and show off to their parents and friends at home.  The blog is an awesome opportunity to reflect on what they are learning and articulate their feelings about their journey. 

Right now the Philosophy Field Trip is in Florida. In their own words, here is what our students have to say about the trip so far!

Day 1

We started the day at AMS, packing last-minute gear and other things. By about 9:30, we were on the road. We stopped for our first vending stop after about ten minutes but were quickly on the road again. From there, we drove for about 45 minutes to a small town called Marshall where we visited an old high school now turned into artists’ studios. At Marshall High Studios, we met up with Rob Pulleyn, a long-AMS board member and friend. Rob helped to found the studios, and he arranged for us to tour several of them. He would happily act as our tour guide for the day (and allow us to stay at his guest house overnight!).

middle schoolers talking to potter in their studioWe began by visiting Rob’s ceramics studio. He explained to us that he hadn’t gotten into ceramics until he was older, though he now really enjoys making things. As a potter, he doesn’t use a wheel; he prefers to use his own hands. He talked to us about “flow”—the experience of doing activities that you really enjoy rather than activities you’re just told to do. Rob said that be would never call himself an artist, which felt sad to me because he was doing pretty cool stuff, and it was art.

Next, we briefly poked our heads into a studio focused on Viking traditions and crafts, like baskets made from birch bark. Sadly, we could not see all of their art because they were out selling and talking about their work, but we still got to see their studio!
Then, we headed down the hall to an oil-painter’s studio. He mostly painted pictures of people. One of the paintings he showed us was of an oracle-like figure holding a skull. To prepare to paint that image, he went to the Smokies to get ideas and to take photos. For other works, he had people come into his studio and asked them to pose, sometimes for several hours as he painted them.
Next, we headed to another artist’s studio—a tattoo studio, where a woman and her apprentice talked to us about the art of tattooing. The woman had been working as a tattoo artist for at least eleven years. She talked to us about how she got into tattooing and about what she was and wasn’t comfortable tattooing onto people’s bodies. She and her apprentice were giving a man a tattoo while we were there—it was interesting and weird to hear to noises. We also got to see pictures of past tattoos she had given to her friends and others.
Afterward, we headed to a studio belonging to two people who ran a small school teaching people about herbal medicines, Terra Sylva. They talked with us about environmental issues. They also shared with us that they had built their own off-grid houses in a very rural community where they also had their own garden. It was interesting to hear that these people were living so naturally. Talking with them about their lifestyle was really cool and kind of inspiring.
The last studio we saw in the old high school was a pretty new one. A man and his son worked with technology to create installations and virtual reality experiences for various clients like NASA, the Smithsonian, a pain clinic, and NOAA. They were called Elumenati.
middle schoolers talking to an artistAfter that, we drove off of the high school property to a pottery studio near Rob’s house. The potter told us that he’d gone to school for potter and had been interested in it for most of his life. After he finished school, he won an award that granted him $15,000 to start his pottery studio. Rob sold him the land for his current studio. The studio is pretty big already, but he has plans to grow it even more.
One thing he shared with us was that, when he was in school, he basically interacted with clay as if it came from plastic bags, but he personally was interested in harvesting clay from the ground himself. He wasn’t taught much about how to do that in school, however, so he taught himself. He told us a few interesting stories about the process of harvesting clay. He also showed us his large wood-fired kiln; he told us about building the kiln and explained that he does about four firings a year. Each firing is 50% his work and 50% the work of other artists who help him throughout the firing. It was inspiring that he’d done all this art and committed his life to it.
As a first-year student, I thought this was a good first day of 18-days. We’ll follow up today’s experience with a philosophy discussion tomorrow, in which questions about art might be unpacked!

Day 2

This morning we woke up to the radio. We then slowly packed up all of our stuff and prepared oatmeal for breakfast. After we ate and cleaned up the kitchen, we loaded the bus and got on the road. We drove for about an hour to Earthaven Eco-village. There, we were guided in a tour by Arjuna. She told us about the community’s beliefs and values.

middle schoolers looking at hydraulics systemWe got to see their micro-hydraulic system, which was super cool. The energy in the water powered batteries for the community’s common energy needs. As we walked around, we saw lots of natural buildings made from clay, straw, and sand. There was a really cool bridge, called the crystal bridge, that had art built into the walls.

We went into their nursery where a guy was growing elderberries from limbs off of the original plant. He was also growing other berries and medicinal fruits. Arjuna showed us the many neighborhoods inside the village. They were mainly built out of natural homes but there were a few made like your typical house.

A group of children were following us and spying on our tour. They had no school that day and were very entertaining to our group. They were extremely good at hiding. In another village they had more of apartment buildings were multiple families were living together. We meet some cute dogs named Lily and Lucy. Arjuna showed us her home which was made out of clay.

She showed us a bill from their village currency. Community members earned “Leaps” for every hour of community service they did. Leaps could be used to buy help and service from other community members. We then walked back to the main hall and ate lunch. After lunch we played in the community field and had hula hooping contests.

middle schoolers talking to a member of Earthaven about their hydraulicsThe kids of Earthaven had whittled sticks and sharpened them to make weapons. With the sticks the children would stab and kill squirrels. They would clean them and sell them for only five dollars. These kids were only 8 years old. Silas wanted to buy a squirrel so he got one and is outside skinning it right now.

On our drive home we stoped at Ingles to prepare for our long drive tomorrow. We then drove to the Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting house and had a philosophical discussion on the topic of hierarchy. Now we are just hanging out waiting for dinner to be made. I can’t wait to get in the warmth of Florida tomorrow.


Day 3

We woke up in North Carolina today and left Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting shortly after 8:30 in the morning. We began the drive—the drive that was supposed to be seven hours, and when we were two hours away, there were traffic problems. A big crash shut down a bridge, and then we took a detour, and then another detour. It ended up being a ten-hour drive.

When we finally arrived at Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church, we met kids aging from 13-16 and a few adults, and they were very cool and hospitable. We played a few games, they fed us, and we hung out and socialized. Then, they left around nine, and we began to wind down and get ready for bed, and then I had to write a 9:40 pm blog post. Good night, America.


Day 4

middle schoolers in an abandoned mallToday, we got to sleep in, and we went to a mall, but the mall was falling apart and slowly closing. We got to wander around and look at the different shops—or at least the shops that were left. Half the mall was completely shut down and you couldn’t access it. The shops that remained sold everything at a discount, and some of the water fountains squirted directly onto the floor. The lights on the ceiling in the hallways were off, and there were water stains on the ceiling. After taking a look around, we played a game, where we tried to get free things and trade them for other things. Later in the way we had an extremely long (two hours!) but interesting philosophical conversation. In the conversation, we talked about the morality of deception in relation to strangers and businesses.

In middle of the day, we drove to an arboretum (tree zoo) and we ate lunch while exploring a pond and wooded area. We saw snapping turtles and geckos. Then we went back and had that philosophical conversation. Now, we’re back at the Unitarian Church, and we’re hanging out and playing fun games.


Day 5

On the night of day four, Jake told us that he was going to wake us up around 7:00 am, so I was surprised when Ezzy, being the early bird he is, was whispering in my ear telling me, “It’s 8:00 am. We were supposed to be awake an hour ago!” I was really tired and glad we got the extra sleep, so I told Ezzy, “Everything’s fine we’re probably just leaving later.”

middle schoolers hanging out on a picnic tableEven though I was tired, I still couldn’t go back to sleep, so Ezzy and I stayed up until about 8:30 am. Then Naomi got up. After the majority of us were up, I started packing up my stuff and got ready for a shower. I was really disappointed when I realized the curtain was see-through and the doors couldn’t lock, so I had to go back out and tell all the seventh graders (the only ones awake except for the staff who were having a meeting) that I was taking a shower. Once I was done with my shower the staff were explaining what was going on. After Rebecca was done explaining why we hadn’t left yet, Adam made us breakfast. It was really good (toast and eggs).

Once breakfast was done all the seventh graders and Eli went back to their room. We played a few games like Sorry and Apples to Apples. I got pretty bored of that after a while so I asked if anyone wanted to play on the Unitarians’ playground. At first, everyone was skeptical, but I persuaded Ezzy and Naomi to go outside with me. We all decided to swing, but someone had to go in the baby swing and since Ezzy was the smallest, he got the baby swing. He got most of the way in before he realized he was stuck. We tried to get him out a few different ways before I went to go get Adam.

Adam and I were on our way outside and then we got halfway out the door and Ezzy and Naomi were on the ground. I asked how they did it and Naomi said, “I had to dump him out like a milkshake.” At this point, we were all pretty tired so we went back inside. Soon after, Rebecca told us that James had to leave. We then hugged James goodbye and Rebecca and Adam drove them half way to meet their aunt.

After they left, Jake said we were going to have a student check-in. After the check-in, we decided that we should all put some of our money in to order four large pizzas: one Hawaiian, one cheese, one three-meat, and one extra pepperoni. While we were eating our pizza we watched Pets 2. After lunch, Rebecca and Adam were back so we had to get on the bus for a four hour car drive. For most of the ride, I was sitting alone so I listened to music most of the time.  Then I saw a license plate that said, “SUPRMAN” that made me smile. Soon after, we got to Ted Winsberg’s house. Ted welcomed us in and showed us around. He also put a lasagna in the oven for us. The lasagna was good and then we had to get our stuff and lay it out to sleep, we then brushed our teeth and Jake sang us three songs before we went to bed. I fell asleep soon after.


Day 6

middle schoolers looking at a map of Green Cay WetlandsLast night, most people including me slept outside in the barn loft. Jake slept up there with us, and this morning he woke us up at 6:30 so we could go for a walk around the farm. We were originally planning to go to Publix, the grocery store. We decided not to because Adam and Silas weren’t with us because they were still sleeping and because we wanted to get our stuff later.

Once we got back, we had a breakfast of eggs, bagels, and the grapefruits that Ted (the guy who owns the farm that we’re staying at) bought us. After that, Ted showed us a map of the area and some old pictures and told us about how the land has changed over the many, many decades that he’s lived here.

Then we walked for a few miles to the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands, seeing some iguanas on the way. Once we got there, we walked around the large walkway by ourselves and saw a bunch of really cool birds and also some alligators, and I saw a giant iguana on a tree next to me. It was pretty cool. We made some observations and explored with partners. (I explored with Ezzy.) After we finished, I hung out at the entrance with a few other people waiting for everyone else. Naomi suddenly realized that one of her bag’s pockets was open that still had her mp3 player cords, but the mp3 player was gone! She looked through her backpack and then we realized it had just fallen out right next to the entrance and she was relieved to find it.

When walking back to the farm (Green Cay Farm) Ezzy found a dead fish on the road before we were even near the canal! He named it Fred and carried it around but eventually threw it in the canal once we were walking alongside it again. He later appreciated it during pre-lunch announcements. Ezzy also found a really awesome slingshot. Once we got back to the barn, we had trip lunch and then Jasper, Ezzy, and Jake left to go find coconuts. Jake climbed up a huge palm tree and got a coconut and then Adam opened it with a machete which was really cool but also worrying because he almost chopped off his hands. We all passed around a cup of coconut water and it was super delicious, but sadly the meat in that kind of green smooth coconut isn’t very tasty.

middle schooler drinking a coconutAfter drinking coconut water, we went to Publix to both vend and buy caffeine drinks for later. We were going to do an experiment where we got hyper from the caffeine and then notice what happens to us. I got a caramel coffee drink and some other people got similar things, while a few people got caffeinated soda. I also bought some sweets for the vending. We drank/ate our caffeine outside the grocery store while waiting for Jake to make a phone call, but we waited a while and some of us weren’t very hyper after an hour.

Rebecca led us in an exercise where we lay down on our back for a while and made observations about our thoughts, breathing and heart speed, and how we felt laying down. I almost fell asleep. I was still pretty tired. We then wrote down our observations and some philosophical questions, and then Rebecca led us in a discussion of one of them for over an hour. Our discussion was about the placebo effect and whether and how it affects us. After the discussion, a few of us went to the grocery store to get some stuff for dinner, but we didn’t vend, except for Theo, who bought some bananas.

When we got back we ate burritos for dinner with really good homemade salsa-like stuff with tomatoes and cilantro and garlic. After dinner, we did chores and practiced aiming with Ezzy’s slingshot, trying to knock over some cans from a pretty far distance. I knocked over a few and that was really fun. Now we are getting ready for bed and packing up and hanging out outside. After dinner we all seemed to get kind of hyper. Maybe the caffeine’s effect took a while to kick in . Well, that was our day today! Thanks for reading!


Day 7

Outside of Robert is Here Fruit StandI am writing to you from the fellowship room at the Miami Friends Meeting in South Miami, Florida. Today was a relatively calm day as we traveled from the home and farm of Ted Winsberg, highest holy figure of the cult of the lasagna-giver, to the Miami Friends Meeting. The cult is a religious belief system I developed in a state of partial delirium late Friday night after receiving lasagna from two separate hosts on our first nights in their homes or spaces, after arriving late. The central tenet of the cult is “arrive late, receive lasagna”.

But now on to the activities we did today. We visited two locations today: Robert Is Here, a fruit stand in Florida City and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo. The Robert is Here fruit stand is a large family-owned fruit stand opened in 1959 by Robert Moehling and his father. They expanded from their small beginnings as a coffee table on the roadside selling farm-fresh produce to a large indoor and outdoor space with a small restaurant, exotic bird collection, farmyard animal petting zone, iguana habitat, a ceramic alligator, and one Emu all centered on a farm stand with more fruits than I have ever seen: mangos, lemons, key and Persian limes, starfruit, guanabanas, pomelos, tamarinds, nectarines, dragonfruit, sugar cane, coconuts, and even jackfruit in the summer.

middle schooler eating a star fruitThe main thing we did at Robert is Here was to purchase miracle berries. When you consume them and then eat a sour object, you experience a flavor reversal. For those who are unaware, miracle berries are exotic berries which scramble our taste receptors to make sour things sweet. I ate most of a lemon while under the influence and it felt like a far too sweet somewhat citrusy fruit which still burned my tongue.

We then traveled about an hour south to the John Pennekamp State Park, which is comprised of several beaches and a mangrove swamp. On the main beach, a large contingent of the stronger swimmers, under the supervision of Rebecca, swam to the buoy marking a Spanish ship wrecked in 1715 on the outer edge of the swimming area.

Upon returning to shore we had trip lunch during which Jasper and I each consumed an entire mango we had acquired at Robert is Here. After lunch we split into two groups, one group led by Adam and Rebecca went walking to find a second beach we had seen from the water. After several false alarms and an encounter with a hoary woodpecker, we arrived at this second more secluded beach. Silas, Rebecca, and Daisy immediately went swimming while I hesitated due to having left my towel far away back at the bus.

middle schooler climbing trees at the beachHowever, after scouting the area I plunged in with abandon acclimating to the colder water and eventually reaching the farthest of anyone in our group-to one corner of the buoy line anchored on what may have been a dead reef. As we returned to shore, we engaged in a water fight and continued our silliness onto shore where we discovered that Adam had left…for the bathroom. I then returned to the bus and got changed. Once everyone was ready we drove to the meeting house from which I am writing you.


Day 8

Today we had to wake up and pack up all our stuff, because even though we are staying at the Miami Friends Meeting again tonight, the Quakers needed to use this space while we were gone today. We quickly packed up our duffel bags and stuffed them in a closet, and had a breakfast of grits. We got in the bus at around 9:00 and had about a one and a half hour drive to a fancy prep boarding school (Saint Andrew’s School), which was our stimulus for the day.

middle schooler in a treeWhen we pulled up, there was an insanely cautious security system. We drove up to a man who asked us who we were. We said we had scheduled a tour today with a guy known as Charles Nolan, but the man said no one knew anything about that and Charles Nolan wasn’t even there today. We got rejected!!!!!!! Jake drove us to a nearby parking lot place where Adam tried to get in touch with someone, and eventually he did and we went back to the school, not getting rejected again.

When we went inside, a woman gave us packets of school info and gave us a tour of a very fancy and rich school. Tuition for a boarding student was $60,000 per year! All the students were wearing strictly dress coded clothing, such as a certain kind of shirt and pants/shorts/skirts. On the tour, we saw many sports fields. There was probably at least one field for each sport, sometimes more! They even had a giant swimming pool and two gyms, one with several rock climbing walls and they were both huge. There were two theaters, one huge one and one smaller one.

We saw many students chilling with each other and on their phones, and some in advanced classes. We saw really fancy and expensive looking classrooms such as a room where students were building robots, and one where there was a green screen and several fancy lights and cameras everywhere. When we walked into the cafeteria, we all were secretly wishing we could eat their food. It was a huge cafeteria full of all kinds of fresh food of all kinds, including pizza made every day! However, I wouldn’t want to go to that school because I think the schedule and competition in the sports would overwhelm me. Also because they made the students go to church every Wednesday.

After we finished our tour, we found a nearby park for lunch. Eli left with his great aunt and great uncle to have lunch with them. I ate and then climbed trees for a bit. Then I headed over to a nearby playground, where Theo was creating an obstacle course with a few things outside an actual really fun obstacle course structure. We raced each other and Theo was the fastest. There was also a water area with sprinklers and weird things with water coming out of them. I ran through them and stuck my head in them, but no one else wanted to get wet. There was also a fun thing we all played on for a while that was like half treadmill and half one of those public playground merry-go-around things. We grabbed a bar around the middle and all ran in one direction, but stayed in one place because we were holding the bar. The floor underneath us was spinning from us running. It was pretty fun.

middle schoolers on a basketball courtOnce we hung out and had fun, we sat on a basketball court and had a philosophical discussion. Our question was, “Is money moral?” We decided pretty fast that it was immoral, but we continued to discuss different ways of how it was immoral, and ways it could be moral, if there were any. Then I did the obstacle course again and we played on the treadmill circle while waiting for Eli to come back. When he did, he had several boxes of cookies that his great aunt and great uncle had bought for us! (We are splitting them after dinner.)

After the hour and a half drive back, I looked for a package I was supposed to get. So did Eli. We didn’t succeed. Adam took us and some others to the post office, where Eli got his package (which had more cookies we will split) but I never got mine. I don’t know where it is or if I’ll ever get it.

We went to Publix after the post office where Adam got stuff for dinner and other meals while Jasper got an envelope so she can write to Eva. When we got back, I started writing this and soon we had a dinner of pesto pasta and fried vegetables, which was very good. Eli gave us all one cookie, and probably more soon. After cleanup is done we will have check-ins and then go to bed. That’s what our day was like today! Cya!


Day 10

We started our day by eating granola. Some of us took freezing cold and showers that were provided by the campground. After we cleaned up from breakfast we drove to meet a ranger. We went on a short walk to learn more about the Everglades before driving to the Slough Slog. We all got sticks to help us balance in the mud. W

e were walking in insanely thick and squishy mud. Sometimes it got as deep as our thighs. Occasionally people would fall in or loose a shoe but luckily all shoes were retrieved. We walked into a cypress strand where the water was clearer and deeper. We got nets to find small crawdads and bugs in the vegetation.

a alligator in the waterWhen we got back to the bus we were all super muddy so we drove back to the campground to take showers and eat lunch. While we were eating we saw a group of fishermen catch and release a manta-ray. 

After lunch we rented canoes and went out on the water. We saw lots of wildlife including crocodiles, baby crocodiles, and lots of birds. We drove back to the campground to change into long sleeves and long pants to protect us from the bugs.

We drove to the trail. As we waited for the ranger, we cooked our dinner and hung out. We ate our burritos in clouds of bugs. It was insane. When we decided that the ranger wasn’t coming we walked the trails without a ranger. The stars were gorgeous and made up for the bugs. After we drove back to the campground we all went to bed after our long day.


Day 11

Today, we woke up in our hot tents in The Everglades. We ate bagels and eggs for breakfast. We got our stuff together, packed our tents up, and hit the road for Tampa. We had a vending stop halfway, and we ate lunch in the parking lot of a gas station. Then, we got back in the bus and drove—so exciting! We had conversations on the bus. When we arrived, we met our host, Karen, who was really nice and treated us to probably our best meal of the trip so far. She kept us company during dinner, and we talked, and we shared with her some of our favorite memories from the trip. And then, we got ready to got to sleep. Goodnight, Celo.


Day 12

Today, we went to meet with the Scientologists. At the welcome center in Clearwater, Florida, we met Amber who acted as the Scientologists’ spokesperson. She spoke to us for a long time about her experience with the Scientologists and said a few things about what they stand for. Then she showed us some odd videos about the Scientologists. She also fed us a bunch of cheese.

middle schooler talking with their teacherAfter hearing from her, we went over to the headquarters of some of their projects. We saw a misleading video about recreational drug use and visited the home of their human rights initiative, which was staffed by someone who felt less brainwashed.

Then, we went to visit and eat lunch with Jake’s grandmother who describes herself as prejudiced against the Scientologists. We got to hear her opinion. Later in the day, we went to a park. We got to run around a little, and then we had a philosophical discussion about our experiences.

Finally, we were very generously treated to dinner at a Cuban restaurant by our hosts at the Tampa Friends Meeting. We got to talk to several members of the Meeting over dinner and learned something about them. Now, we’re back at the Meeting getting ready for bed.


Day 14

Today was another off-day! And it was even better than the beach day in my opinion. On the night of day 13, the staff told us we’d wake up at 7:00. But this morning, they woke us up saying, “It’s 8:30! Get up!” We all sat up and looked at our watches. It was 7:30, and we said that to the staff. But then they told us it was daylight savings time! So we changed our watches (well, not me, because mine doesn’t work when you change it) and got up and packed up our stuff and ate some granola. Then we went to Quaker meeting with the people who meet at the Meeting House we’re staying in. We all got pretty antsy because we were sitting in silence for an hour. After that, they fed us chicken chili, vegetable lasagna, coffee cake, and strawberries and cool whip.

Then we decided we wanted to go see manatees and then go to a park in Sarasota with good climbing trees and curly fries that Jake spent a lot of time at when he was a kid. We drove for around 20 minutes to get to this place where you can usually see tons of manatees in the water. And we did! I thought they were really cool and stayed an extra 5 minutes to watch them. Then several of us, including me, borrowed money from Rebecca to buy Kona Ice (There was a truck there).

Once we got back to the bus, we payed her back. Then we drove a little while and found this place that was like the world’s largest yard sale that was open every Sunday. There were lots of tarps set up with people under them with tables filled with all kinds of different stuff. There was also a taco truck and another Kona Ice truck. After exploring a while, we all bought at least one taco with our own money (which was our lunch). I bought two chicken tacos, which was $4. They were super good and they were the first tacos I’ve ever had.

After another hour or so of driving, we got to Island Park. We all split into buddies to explore and climb trees and stuff like that. The type of trees in the park were called Banyan trees. The bark was smooth and kind of slippery, but they were really sturdy and no one was ever afraid that any of the branches would break. I went with Jake, Naomi, Jasper, and Ezzy to a huge tree that was apparently Jake’s favorite tree ever and he spent a ton of time in it as a kid. He even carved in it, but it had faded and we couldn’t see it anymore. We climbed into it and hung out for a bit, and watched Jake do a bunch of cool tricks like jumping into another tree or going far out onto a limb and then getting off and hanging off it and then using the branch like monkey bars.

After a while, we went to another couple trees where Adam, Rebecca, Silas, and Theo were and climbed with them. It was really fun! Then Jake, a few others and I went to the restaurant in the park to see if there were still curly fries. There were! We grabbed a menu for the rest of the group so we could decide if we wanted to spend our kitty fund there for dinner or not. We decided to, but we were all still full from the tacos, so we horse-played in the grass for a little bit and then we all went and climbed in Jake’s favorite tree.

After a bit, we all did the hanging up high monkey bar trick that Jake did, and he caught us when we fell off. Then we all went and ordered our food. Most of us who didn’t get something off the kids menu (which comes with curly fries) got curly fries as a side. Before dinner came, we hung out, watched a bunch of bagpipe players, and went to get our jackets when it got cold. Once dinner was ready, we all went back and ate by Jake’s favorite tree so we could see the sunset. Then we climbed the tree again until it got dark and we had to leave. On the way back to Tampa, we went across a really cool suspension bridge, which was fun. When we got back, we brushed our teeth, used the bathroom, changed, and did whatever we needed to do. Then we went to bed.


Day 15

Today we visited the Spring Valley Sudbury School outside of Tampa. The Spring Valley Sudbury School is a day school, modeled after the Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts. This means that all classes are optional and the students decide what classes they want. It is governed by a school meeting which operates on a majority model. In their school meeting, every person has one vote, from the kindergarteners to the staff and everyone in between. At the SVS, the staff act as facilitators more than teachers or supervisors and all disputes are handled by a student led judicial committee that meets everyday to solve disputes and mete out consequences. When we visited, they gave us a tour and a question and answer session which was essentially the same treatment that we received from the St. Andrews School. I was personally somewhat skeptical of the Sudbury or free school model and I still am, but the students there seemed rather happy with their experience at the SVS.

After we finished with the Spring Valley people we returned to the friends meeting and had lunch. Afterwards, several of us role played in crime based world made by Theo for around an hour. We then had a philosophy discussion based on the stimulus of the spring valley school which eventually fell apart due to expended attention spans. Rebecca then left for a religious holiday, Adam went to hang out until he needed to pick her up and Jake stayed to wrangle us unruly children. Theo, Silas, and I role played until dinner, which was a tempeh stir fry.  The whole group cleaned up due to a missing chore chart. Now, while I am writing this, the group is playing tag in the dark.


Day 16

Today we woke up and ate bagels and eggs for breakfast again. Then we packed up all our stuff and cleaned the meeting house. Sadly, we never found Doughcat, Ezzy’s squishy cat thing that went missing yesterday. Then we left and drove about an hour and a half to get to Disney World. Well, we didn’t go to actual Disney World, but we went to this place called Disney Springs that was right next to it. It was basically a place with a movie theater and like three rides and a ton of shops and restaurants with really, really expensive food and souvenirs. For example, Jasper wanted to buy a birthday card that she liked. It was 15 dollars! For just a card! It was crazy. Basically, we walked through it and went into shops and listened in on random people’s conversations and made observations. When we were done, we drove to the weird gas station/random places area and sat at some tables and ate lunch and had a philosophical discussion about our true selves.

When we finished our hour long conversation, we got back in the bus. We had another hour and a half to go to get to Kelly’s house. Kelly was the woman we were staying with and also Jibril’s mom! Unfortunately, just a few minutes later, we got stuck in traffic for about 2 hours. No, I am not exaggerating. We barely got anywhere in that time and I was sitting directly in the sun the entire time. I had to shield my eyes the whole time, along with fanning myself with my philosophy notebook and agreeing with everyone else, who were complaining that we took the single AMS 18 days vehicle without air conditioner to Florida.

When we finally got out of the traffic we still had an hour to go, so we told Kelly we’d be late. She was taking us out to pizza that night, and so we changed our plans to just meet her at the pizza place before going to her house. When we got to the place, we explored. It was super cool! The guy who had owned the pizza shop had built everything, from the fountain outside made with random junk to the soda to the stained glass windows to the wall full of old phones. There were so many things! There was even a playground, a box that you could look into with holes on the side and inside was a whole world made out of random toys.  It also had a bunch of tile art, pans, cans, cymbals and lots of random things that you could bang on with a drumstick to make cool noises! And there was so much more cool stuff It was really amazing.

After exploring, we got drinks at the soda dispenser thingy. The dude made all of them himself! They were all really good, including the lemonade that I got which was amazing. Eventually our pizzas came. They were so cool! The guy was a pizza artist! He had all kinds of toppings on each one and they looked like art! Since I didn’t eat the meat I ate from the vegetarian pizza, which had tomatoes and spinach and a strange kind of cheese that looked really cool. The pieces were huge and I could barely eat part of a second one, even though it was so good!

After pizza, we had doughnuts because it was Theo’s birthday. They were good too, but I couldn’t even eat a whole one because I was so full from pizza! When we finished we drove to Kelly’s house and set up our stuff and went to bed late.