Like many others, I lost sleep on election night. I tried to go to bed at 8:00 p.m., but I did not fall asleep until around 10:00 p.m., and then woke up in the middle of the night just as Trump was claiming victory, and then went back to sleep until I woke up just after 4:00 a.m. I skipped my morning run, opting instead to take care of some administrative tasks that were on a deadline, and then wrote up what happened on day 32 for this blog. I spoke to the guardian of and one of the Learners from the other cell who questioned if she should attend that day, as she had a temperature that was a bit elevated, but was under our cutoff of 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After confirming that she cleared our screening process she decided to stay home just in case. I was running a bit behind so I rushed out the door to get to the drop-off location, and then got to slow down once I arrived. Every day I write my intentions, as well. My intentions were to be rested, have conversation with Learners, stay hydrated, take pics/vids, think, and have separate conversations about specific topics with two of the older Learners. Then the Learners started trickling in.

It seemed that the Learners may have also been tired from the night before based on their intentions: have fun, have no intentions, don’t die, don’t die, eat, eat lunch, freetopia, and find a new stick. I asked if anyone wanted to be the game master and a new Learner volunteered. She set the conditions for the meeting and then facilitated it as well. She gave us a prompt to reply to, chose two truths and a lie as a get to know you activity, and asked everyone what their intentions for the ay were. Then we discussed where we would spend the morning. They had previously agreed to spend the prior day at the lake and this day away from the lake to meet the needs of Learners who wanted a break from the lake. So after some short discussion on where they would prefer to go they settled on the large rocks at the top of the hill that look out over the river, with a view of the entire valley. One Learner needed to go to the bathroom so we broke into two groups, with the teenagers taking responsibility for getting everyone to the top of the hill while I joined the Learner who needed to take a detour to the bathroom.

When I arrived a the top of the hill I found one Learner laid out on a yoga mat, two chatting on one rock, and two others looking for sticks to swing around. One of the older Learners then asked me for a walkie talkie so that he could go looking for prickly pear fruit. One Learner found a spot and settled in to ink her comics, while another Learner looked for a spot where he could sit and think. The two younger Learners came together and began beating old sticks they found against the rocks, then climbing the remnants of a dead tree, and then using a small pine tree as a catapult to launch sticks and rocks downhill. The Learner who went looking for prickly pear fruit came back, and then decided to go on a hike. The other older Learner then borrowed a walkie talkie and went off to join the other on his hike. I spent my time at the top of the hill communicating with Facilitator Lauren, checking in on the Learners at the top of the hill, and reminding two Learners about our masking and distancing practices.


I tried to take a selfie with two Learners. Failed.

At around 1:00 p.m., the Learners discussed the possibility of going to the lake and they all agreed that they wanted to do so. We stopped at the drop-off location on the way there to refill our water bottles, and I was pleased to find that three Learners had drank enough to require refills, as that is one of the practices we highlighted on Monday. At the lake everyone settled into their usual locations: three on the dock, one under a tree, and two playing on a small beach (one Learner stayed home).

For me, the day would have been a good one to bring a book, because the Learners were not eager to have conversation with me and I did not have the energy to offer up any games or activities. But that morning I felt that my energy levels did not warrant bringing a book. I did ask some of the Learners who lingered around me at one point if they wanted to talk about anything, and in particular about the election, but they passed on it. Two of the Learners were super high energy, digging in the sand, creating imaginary king mud ball world, climbing trees over the water, and throwing mud at each other. One of the new Learners asked another Learner about her comic, and they got into a nice long conversation that spanned much of the afternoon. They later exchanged numbers so they could continue the conversation via chat. At one point a Learner asked to go back to the drop-off location to refill her water bottle, meaning four of six Learners were staying hydrated, and helping to make sure that the intentions of don’t die were met because “hydrate or die.” Another Learner jumped in the lake for the first time. It was cold but it was alright.

At the end of the day I led the afternoon roundup on the dock, 15 minutes early as a Learner needed to be picked up early. I led with the question “why are you here?” The first response was, “because it’s time for the afternoon roundup.” True, so I elaborated and asked, “why are you here at Abrome, as opposed to at school or being homeschooled?” Most of the Learners highlighted how school was not working for them. How it was a place where they were told they were not smart, or trouble makers, or where other kids would shun or bully them. One Learner who was previously homeschooled said it was in response to her request to have more freedom. I found the responses informative. While some of the Learners sometimes complain about being at the lake, or being away from the lake, or being outdoors when it is hot or cold, or being in small groups, they each expressed appreciation for being able to have control over their time, and over at least the education aspect of their lives. I wanted to be able to bottle up some of the responses to give back to them when they are upset with the composition of the cells or on meeting on a cold day, but just hearing their responses gave me a bit more energy on a day that I did not have much of it. One of the Learners then asked me what Abrome meant, so I went into my story of how I came up with the name of our community five years ago. I then asked the Learners what was the highlight of their day, how we all did on our practices, and if they had any announcements for the group. And then we headed back to the pick-up location and on the way I had one of my planned conversations with two of the older Learners. Because we arrived at the pick-up location early, we had lots of time to sit around and talk with each other while waiting for rides to arrive. Older and younger Learners talked about YouTube videos, how to make and monetize them, which channels they watch the most, and how the channels have evolved over time.

When all the Learners had been picked up I had my daily check-in with Facilitator Lauren. Our check-ins this week have all lasted 20 to 40 minutes in length, as we dive deep into how we are facilitating during different scenarios and situations. We recapped our day, discussed challenges that some of the Learners were facing, as well as some mindsets that were limiting a couple of the Learners. We discussed ways to approach conversations with some of the Learners, and how to address some fears and misconceptions that reside within the community. By the time we ended the call we each had new priorities for some of the conversations we would be having with Learners in the coming days.