Happy Ending to Senior Challenge

The buses bringing the kids back from the six days of camping, hiking and living in the woods for our seniors were late. Standing on the covered walkway by the auditorium in the humidity for an extra thirty minutes was killing me, waiting to get my arms around my girl and hear how the dreaded trip had been for her.
Not having any communication with or about our kids for six days was tough on the parents. Every once in a while this past week I got a random text message from a friend or two, “Have you heard anything?” Of course I had not. As parents we had no idea what groups, which route or how tough the week was going to be. The not knowing caused me some sleepless nights.
All day I was counting down the hours until I could go to school. I should have planned a busier day because these hours ticked by very slowly. I was not alone in my anticipation. The parents on the sidewalk were getting restless. We heard a loud vehicle coming down the road and were sure it was the twin buses, but sadly it was just a fire truck. At last we saw the big green buses coming from the wrong direction. They pulled up and as the door opened and the first kid emerged, wearing a clean senior challenge shirt and the gathered parent body broke into a spontaneous applause.
Carter came off the second bus and grabbed her pack, threw it up on her back and ran over to give me the hug I was waiting for. “It was wonderful,” she gushed before I could even begin to pepper her with questions. She was as happy as I have even seen her. As her friends gathered they mostly all talked about what a success it was.  
Then Carter’s spiritual sister E came up and said, “It was hell.” Apparently E’s group had hiked twice as far as Carter’s. They obviously were the advanced group, whether they wanted to be or not.
Normally E is the positive of the two sisters, so this switch in reviews was surprising. E’s mom Lynn and I took the girls to Chipolte to get some food. There they began the story telling of their different weeks. In response to the time of her life experience Carter had I said, “Everyone says this trip is the greatest.” In an emphatic tone I had never heard from E came, “No one says that, Mrs. Lange.”
I am sorry for sister E it was not the best experience. I am eternally grateful that Carter some how miraculously got the least hiking which meant the most bonding time. After eating, we parted ways with our friends so Carter could come home and take a serious shower, although I had to say she was not smelly nor dirty looking. She continued telling me the run down of all they did and how much she adored her group. 
When we pulled in the driveway she was still on day one. We stayed in the car for two hours while she finished telling me the whole story. It was a week with a lot of personal growth. It could not have been more worth it. Carter summed it up, “I’ll be telling these stories the rest of my life.” So glad it is such a positive one. I know that after a shower and a good nights sleep sister E will be singing the same song. Surviving something difficult is its own reward.

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