My Girl Scout Troop Went on a Caribbean Cruise... and on Day #1, We Made it to Montgomery, Alabama!

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You guys, we pulled it off. 

Eight Girl Scouts, ages 13-17, earned all the money for and completely planned a Caribbean cruise. They researched and presented individual proposals for possible trip locations, voted numerous times and revised their plans and voted again, and settled on their trip of a lifetime. They held multiple budget meetings in which they organized our finances. They sold the snot out of Girl Scout cookies for five years, as well as conducting supplementary fundraising projects. They had meetings to plan packing lists, excursions, the budget and itinerary for the road trip down to the cruise port, and to make troop rules and cabin rules. They looked at diagrams of the ship, maps of Cozumel and the Yucatan, and print-outs of menus and activity schedules. They collaborated on a road trip playlist. 

And then, a couple of weeks ago, their six adult chaperones piled them all into three cars and drove them south. 

Our first stop was Nashville, at a sweetly perfect four hours from our home. Leave at 8:00 am on the first day post Daylight Savings, have the kids bring packed lunches that they swear they'll toss the dregs of and not leave scraps of chicken in the chaperones' cars to rot over the five days of our cruise, and you'll arrive at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville at the perfect time for hungry kids to pee, eat lunch, and stretch their legs a bit.

The Nashville Farmer's Market also turned out to be right there across the street from the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, so after we ate some kids and chaperones went to wander the park, and other kids and chaperones went to wander the farmer's market and craft fair. 

I went with the craft fair kids, who all had a little of their own walking around money to spend, and it was a delight. There's a very different vibe to kids who are in charge of their own adventure. Kids who are truly doing their own thing are BUSY! They're totally engaged, they're curious, they're happily smelling different handmade soaps and examining bath bombs and you find yourself promising that when you all get back home, you'll let them plan a meeting in which sure, you'll teach 13 teenagers how to make their own cold-process soap and let them really do it. And yes, you can also teach them how to make those cool poured candles in a teacup. 

Guess I'll be rewriting the retired Folk Arts IPP as my next Girl Scout project!

Here's the packaging from one kid's purchase:

We spent an hour longer than planned in Nashville (oops, but everything was so interesting!), then kept going south for another four hours until we reached our AirBnb in Montgomery, Alabama. 

The kids took a little time to settle in, then we headed out on foot to Google Map our way around for some sightseeing.

Spring was in Montgomery in a way that it wasn't eight hours north, and the kids treated each flowering tree like a celebrity:

We mapped our way to The Legacy Museum, knowing it was closed but still wanting to see it in person. Fortunately, not only did it have a beautiful outdoor memorial to victims of lynching--

--but there was a very kind security guard in front of the building who patiently walked me through a sightseeing path that would take us to Rosa Parks' bus stop and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

Then I got confused, so he walked me through that path again. Thank you, kind security guard!

We found Rosa Parks' bus stop!

I thought it was interesting that it has a direct sightline to the capitol building:

The kids were getting tired and wouldn't have said no to heading back to our AirBnb to order many pizzas, but 1) it's best to wear kids out the first night of a trip away from home without their parents so that they sleep well, and then they'll know that they can sleep well away from home and the rest of the trip is that much easier, and 2) the Dexter Avenue Church was just up the street. Obviously, we had to go!

Syd found an old Nutcracker poster. I swear those things follow her!

Okay, the walk was a little longer than I'd anticipated, and I definitely wore the kids out probably more than I ought, considering that we also had to walk home, but look!

Here is where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached for several years, and here is where the Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned.

Here is Will pretending to preach from the landing. She might be a little unclear about what preaching is supposed to look like...

We admired, we took photos, we walked home in the full dark, we ordered pizza, we ate it while watching the Great British Baking Show, then we all went off to bed, because the next day was going to be even more exciting!