Ms. V, one of the teachers for the school-aged group (which can range anywhere from kindergartners to sixth-graders, although most of the kids are somewhere in the middle) thought it would be fun to go cherry-picking. Sounds innocent enough, right? There are tons of fruit stands in this area, and the kids are used to taking the bus to different parts of the town.
It took the bus about half an hour to get to our stop, because it went around the long way, but it was nice and air-conditioned so it didn't much matter. So we got off, and walked.
With twenty-three kids.
Naturally there was whining about being tired and thirsty and hot, since Ms. V hadn't specifically mentioned that anyone bring water. Heck, she hadn't even told me how far away this place was. But I was a good soldier; I brought up the rear, trying to keep the kids moving, telling them we were almost there and when we got to the fruit stand they would have drinks. It was about a half-hour walk.
By the time we arrived, it was after 11am (we'd left a little after ten). The kids were tired and hungry and sitting down every time we had a free second, picking burrs out of their shoes and socks. It was too hot to go out to the orchard and actually pick the cherries, so Ms. V decided (and the kids agreed) that instead she would buy some fresh fruit with the money that the kids chipped in ($2 per kid). Unfortunately, there were too many kids for all of us to go into the fruit stand at once. So V took about one third of them in, and I waited outside with the rest (who thankfully found some shade next to the building).
When V finally came out with a flat of strawberries and several bags of fruit, it was too late for the rest of the kids to get to go inside. We had to get back to the bus stop if we were going to be able to get a ride back to school. I was disappointed for the kids, but I wasn't complaining... it was 1130 and I was off work at 12; I was supposed to be meeting my parents and brother for lunch (seeing as how my dad's on a 72-hour shift). So we had to herd the kids back up the street, now in the mid-day sun, when they hadn't been able to get anything to drink or even eat the snacks that V had told them to bring along.
We were too late to catch the bus. And instead of waiting for the next one (because V didn't know when it would be around), she decided to walk the whole group (including the kids who were carrying plastic bags full of fruit) back to the school. It was now after 12pm.
According to Mapquest, this is roughly the route we took. And while 2.67 miles might not seem all that long, especially in a car, factor in that we'd walked almost the entire distance of Walnut (1.5 miles) as well.
We didn't get back to school until 1pm, after which I'd already missed lunch -- and so had the kids. They were all thirsty, hungry, had to use the bathroom, tired, 'my feet hurt', you name it. And could I blame them? No. Of course not. Four miles in the heat of the day in the middle of freaking July is not a bright friggin' idea.
I'm incredibly sunburned on my arms, shoulders, the back of my neck and the back of my legs. And I'm going into work tomorrow wearing something that will flaunt that sunburn, embarassing though it may be, so that every time somebody asks me how I got it, I can tell them the condensed version of this lovely tale. Something like "Oh, Ms. V took 23 kids and I on a 4-mile walk in the hot sun. Ha ha ha."
I hope the kids aren't too badly sunburned (I know at least a few of the moms slather their children up in sunscreen before sending them out, but not all, and only a few had hats), but I know if I am... well, I don't burn easily, and I'm sizzling. God, I really hope some parents complain, because otherwise I might have to.