Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Underground Railroad

One of the most memorable experiences of our camping trip
was participating in The Underground Railroad.

The evening began with all of us being told that we
had been sold as slaves.
We were instructed to put down our belongings
and walk in a single file line down to "The Plantation"
where we were being sold.

We had to look down and not look our new owner in the eye.
We weren't allowed talk.
Some of the children were scared.


We were then told that we were all going
to escape the clutches of slavery
by following The Underground Railroad.

We had to move fast and drop down
if anyone approached us on our journey.

Along the way,
people would pop out of the woods
and we would have to lay still
while our guide talked in code
to find out if the stranger was a friend or a foe.


We moved swiftly through the woods
looking for lit lanterns and clues
to lead us to the next location.

The children clung to me
as we travelled almost silently into the night.

My heart hurt because I wanted to protect them.
I could only imagine how a real mother
must have felt whose family had been sold into slavery.

How fast her heart must have been beating
as they fought so hard to escape
and stay alive.

How her children might have been ripped from her arms.


We had to run across a bridge
to avoid a mean plantation owner.

Only the sound of hurried little feet could be heard
as we scampered over the wooden planks.

The children really got into the spirit
of the Underground Railroad.


We encountered friendly people along the way
that offered us shelter and food.

Everyone was breathing heavy
and let out a huge sigh of relief.

Most of the children just thought
that we were on a grand adventure.
The older kids felt the gravity
of the situation
right along side me.


Clues and lanterns led us through the woods,
up a mountain, down a hill,
and to a safe house
where we all silently hid in the dark.


A pretend Sheriff arrived
and we all had to hide
while he questioned the lady that protected us.

Even though I knew it wasn't real,
my heart pounded in my chest.

By the time we completed our trip,
an hour and a half had passed.
It was a quick journey
compared to the three month journey that
the real slaves made.

When we made it to safety,
I excused myself to the bathroom
and cried my eyeballs out.

It was a profound and life changing experience.


Sue said...

Reenactments like that can be so powerful. We took a bunch of young people on a pioneer trek once, and it was unbelievably meaningful for everyone concerned.


angel shrout said...

I cannot imagine the hardships and fear they must have endured. The fact that we as humans thought it okay to enslave another human simply because of their skin tone sickens me to no end.

Caroline said...

Leigh, what a powerful experience. I would have cried my eyes out too at the end! There are some historic sites here in Maryland that were a part of the Underground Railroad--I would like to check them out.