If “A perk of going to school on a hospital ship is the fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime type field-trips we get to take! This past week is a perfect example! The teachers were batting around field-trip ideas a few weeks ago and our 4th/5th grade teacher, Miss Emilie, happened to say how cool it would be to get to go out on the big covered lifeboat! Why not?!? The worst that could happen was the Captain telling us no, so I went ahead and asked. To my surprise, he was all for it!
Last Thursday the entire elementary met out on deck 7 and got suited up in life-jackets and then we traipsed through midships and down the gangway following our Captain to the dock. The hardest, but most heartwarming part of the whole trip was climbing down the ladder that is bolted to the pier to get in and out of the lifeboat. The kids were so brave and focused as they descended the ladder into the arms of the officers already down in the boat. The men from the deck department were so helpful and encouraging as each student and teacher made the steep descent and it was lovely to hear everyone yelling encouragement to each other!
When we were finally all on-board, Officer Coltan drove us out into the open water and proceeded to let each and every student have a turn at the wheel! The kids got to decide which direction to take the boat in and how fast to make it go when it was their turn at the wheel and the looks of excitement and wonder on their faces were fantastic! Even the teachers got a chance to drive! We waved at the patients up on deck 7 as we sailed by the ship and they happily waved back to the little orange-clad sailors!
When we had all had our turn, we headed back for the dock where the encouragement ensued once more as each student carefully ascended the ladder with Mr. Philip (our electrician) right behind each, ensuring their safety. When we were all safely on firm ground again, Captain Milo thanked us for coming, and all the students gave him a huge group hug! It really was us who should have been thanking him though! Every single person in the deck department worked hard to help this field-trip happen, from those setting out our life-jackets, to those who lowered the life boat, to those who actually took us out, to those who cleaned it afterward. We are so grateful! What an incredible experience! I cannot express enough how grateful I am that our community on-board values our littlest crew members so highly! Kids are one of the greatest blessings onboard. They do so much to make this big metal box feel like a home!”
by Beth Kirchner – 1st Grade Teacher and Head of Elementary
originally published in 2019