When the Oxygen Masks Fall…

When the Oxygen Masks Fall…

Texas is currently experiencing a heat wave, which reminds me of the last time I endured such sweltering temperatures. I had just started teaching outdoor environmental education at a new camp. Yeah, you read that correctly — OUTDOOR environmental education. I was teaching students, primarily outdoors, in 100+ degree heat.

The first day, as I stood in a pile of sunscreen and sweat waiting for their buses to come, I knew I had to keep my students hydrated. We took regular breaks during the lessons to walk to the nearest water fountain. I lined the students up and and moderated them by counting, “One, two, three, that’s enough for me,” to ensure they took turns. Once they were done with their turn, I encouraged them to get back in line as many times as they wanted for seconds, thirds, or fourths. When I wasn’t teaching near a water fountain, I brought a huge jug of water, which I carefully poured into each student’s open mouth. I made sure that everyone was adequately hydrated — everyone except me.

I was so wrapped up in keeping the students hydrated, that I failed to keep myself properly hydrated. By Friday morning, I was so dehydrated that I had to go home and leave my students under my supervisor’s care. Of course they were in good hands, but I wasn’t there to teach the final lessons, have a closing discussion, or wave them goodbye as the buses drove away. My students had to end the session with someone else. Even though I really wanted to care for my students and be a positive role model, that week I wasn’t a good role model.

Every time you board a plane, they always advise to put your oxygen mask on before helping someone else. However, us caretakers sometimes forget that we need to take care of ourselves first so that we can take care of others.

Do you have a similar experience? Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a safe and healthy week.

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