Last week our family had the chance to visit the African Lion Safari--a sort of zoo near here where animals roam pretty much free. (Note of caution: stay away from the monkey area unless you want the trim ripped off your car.) Our homeschool support group went together to get a group rate, so I guess you could call it a group field trip; but really every family was on its own once we'd gone through the gates.
One of the attractions of the Lion Safari is the Elephant Swim. Every day at noon, the elephants walk down to the water near the picnic area for a swim. They walk lined up, holding each others' tails, and they have a sort of sheep dog that keeps them in line. We've been there before and knew what to expect, so we had our lunch at a picnic table fairly close to the water and brought along a couple of lawnchairs. However, this was also a big day for school field trips. As soon as the parade of elephants appeared, what seemed like hundreds of children and parents and teachers (all carrying heavy backpacks and smelling of sunblock) scurried down to the water to watch. Well, scurried isn't the word exactly. Do you remember the Flintstones episode where they're all sitting on the quiet beach and they suddenly remember that this is the place where there's a big surfing competition--and at the same second they get stampeded by hundreds of teenagers carrying surfboards?
They all crowded in there, pushing to see the elephants swim across the lake, and the parents were yelling things like "Mrs. Vanderboggles, come over here so I can get a picture of you and the kids." The kids who weren't really watching the elephants were all yelling and playing tag around the trees.
And then--this is the funny part--within five minutes, they all disappeared again. I don't know whether it was that the kids had a very short attention span, or whether their itinerary didn't allow them to watch elephants playing for more than five minutes, but anyway, suddenly they were gone.
And we sat in our lawnchairs, and our kids went down to the water's edge, and we got a peaceful and clear view of the elephants for as long as we wanted.