The landscape of the Okefenokee Swamp is a varied terrain of canals, pools, ponds, floating islands of peat, and islands of land. The largest National Wildlife Refuge east of the Mississippi River, the Okefenokee’s 600,000 watery acres is home to more species anywhere on earth except the Amazon River Basin. 6th Grade students spent one full day during their Driftwood Outdoor Education Experience exploring this new landscape.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” –Marcel Proust
We guided canoes past gators, once deftly and cautiously within two feet of a glistening, roughly scaled tail. One of our students observed with new eyes that we know gators to be “not bothered when we paddled over the baby two-foot gator, to us they are frightening, their swimming is slow and relaxing they are camouflaged, looking like logs until we saw the eyes, they hard to find, calm and chillin’ , and they weren’t bothered by us. Gators are beautiful and rugged.”
Additional observations by students:
Turtles are “skittish, sunbathers, colorful in a natural way, always partially submerged.”
Water snakes are “black, with brown/orange rings, leathery, hidden, slithery slow in their moves.”
We noticed frogs were ”loud for being so small, seem to hang in the water, they balance on lily pads, they are still with eyes bulging above the surface.”
We followed up these observations with Jesus’ own teaching, when he told the disciples to “look at the birds…they don’t worry…” in Matthew 6. That was certainly our observation of the unconcerned wildlife in Okefenokee. And we learned that we do not have to worry either, because God cares for everyone one of us as His precious child.
To sum up our experience, consider this sage observation from one our students in the field, “When you see it, you believe it is true!”