A funny side of life!
For generations farting in public and/or even celebrating the act of farting has and is still deemed to be inappropriate and somewhat disgusting.
Culturally ‘farting’ is mostly seen as disrespectful and something that should be done only in private if not at all.
It’s funny though because when we are born we are encouraged, often, to fart and burp. We are patted on our backs and given praise when we do these things. How strange. At what age does this change? 1, 3, 5, 10, 30?
Who knows exactly when it changes but my goodness it does.
I am currently on a camp, Outward Bound, with 16 Year 9 students. It involves taking one large group of students out into the remote bush lands of the Clarence river in New South Wales. This year I have 31 students in total from years 9 and 10 who are split into 2 smaller groups. The aim of Outward Bound is to remove the students from all the ‘mod-cons’ and basic everyday items they are used to. It provides opportunities through challenges for the students to push themselves. Students enter their stretch zone and maybe even their panic zone in order to better understand themselves.
A pretty powerful set of opportunities and challenges!
What are these ‘mod cons’ I speak of. Well they include, running water, showers and toilets. Instead we use river water, which needs to be purified, for drinking, a ‘Bommy’ or man dug hole as a toilet and wet wipes or icy cold river water for a shower.
The students carry on their back the necessities together with food drops, which come every second or third day. The students learn to navigate, work as a team, cook, clean and also maintain their own personal hygiene all the time learning to respect the environment. It’s 10 days where the students are pushed, their personal boundaries stretched and life lessons are learnt. A true hands on learning through doing experience, all of which I am privileged enough, not only to organise, but also attend. Watching the individual triumphs, failures, victories and ultimately their transformations!
Now before I get off track let me return to the title of this blog – The Art of Farting.
Each year I hold a parent information evening prior to departing on this expedition and I mention to the parents and their young ones that we will all become very familiar with each other’s bowel movements. Not only our bowel movements but also ‘poo’. Poo will become what we talk about most. They all laugh at this and think, surely not!!
Well every year, it happens!
I know more about my students bowel movements than their parents!!
Out bush it’s vital that the students ‘poo’ we feed them trail mix filled with all sorts of goodies, including many different types of seeds, not even I am sure of the name of them all. We feed them snacks and lots of fresh fruit to encourage these necessary bowel movements! The breakfast muesli, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are all made up of ‘poo’ encouraging nutrients!
On day one we introduce the students to games such as; bommy golf or fart baseball.
Now these may not be familiar to you but if we are going to spend 10 days out bush, in close quarters, with these kids, we have to make their toileting something not to scary.
A lot of them think of a bommy – a bucket lined with a bin bag, and a hole in the ground as things so foreign to them they would rather wait 10 days and poo when they get home. Well this can bring on all sorts of health issues and concerns!!
So bommy golf – a great game. It’s easy, if they poo once a day they are on par. If they poo twice they are one under. If they miss a day they are one over. A great game for any out door educator who wants to have some fun with kids or help make their bowel actions into a more comfortable and acceptable game. I have had years where we are close to camp and the boys and girls are racing to dig the hole with ‘dug’, the aptly named shovel, in order to win the game. The best score in the past 9 years was on 10 day camp was when male students ended up 32 under. That was more than two a day! Talk about chew the toilet paper!!!
Another bush game, which I learnt this year is called, fart baseball. This was introduced to me by, Forest. Yup that’s his real name! The instructor with me this year. He is hilarious and has shown me other fun ways to ease the students into bush toileting.
So here are the rules of Fart Baseball.
If you fart, you move to base one. This move can only happen if your fart is validated. This means it is either heard by someone else or smelt by someone else. If this is the case and your fart is validated you yell out ‘1st base’. Now the aim is to then fart again and have it validated to allow you to move to 2nd base before someone else farts and moves to 1st base thus kicking you of. It’s all about speed and getting through the bases before someone else does. What a challenge!
Now that you have an idea about the rules imagine unleashing this game on a group of mostly year 9 boys!! Well it happened! Not only has this become the best game ever played but their runs and home runs can happen at any time.
This may be while preparing their food and the next minute we either hear it or smell it! It can even happen when in a serious moment sitting around the camp fire enjoying the silence and, boom…… there it goes. Now these boys are serious! As soon as one person is almost near a home run the race is on. We have farts going off left right and centre. The girls have even joined in.
It’s a great game but I do have some issues with it as I am the one who travels up the back when hiking. A high fibre diet, young kids, exercise and of course a game of fart baseball make for a very interesting smell coming up the rear (pardon the pun) of the team! Phew!!!
The best times are when we are in our tents and the camp is quietening down and BOOM, someone lets one rip and you hear 1st base or 2nd base etc. this of course has us all in fits of laughter and with uncontrollable laughter comes more…. yes you guessed it…. farts!! Bed time is when most achieve their home runs!
Of course we keep score and the winner is the one with the most home runs at the end of 10 days.
Now you may think this is weird but it has to be the most entertaining game when out in the bush. If you’re an adventurer I encourage you to try this. Your students will never forget the game and or be hesitant to poo by the end of your trip!
The students who arrived on the bus 10 days ago, worried about how they looked, whether their girlfriend in the cubicle next door would hear them wee or even worse hear the sound of them pooing.
The students, male and female, who would never dream of pooing in a hole in the bush and rushing back to camp, arms high in the air yelling, ‘I did it, I finally pooped’, resulting in high fives and celebrations all round.
Who would have thought that these students were the same ones who got off the bus 10 days ago.
Farting when we were babies is an encouraged behaviour, but soon it becomes an unacceptable behaviour. Well out here, the Art of Farting is something else! It’s a game, it’s part of being human. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. A lesson for the students who are so worried about what others think about them. Rather being comfortable within oneself.
I know that when these kids get off the bus and we go back their parents they will not be the same. They have conquered mountains, pushed themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. They have been tried and tested. They have been broken, brought to tears at times and felt like they could not go on.
They were taught to accept themselves, their peers and of course recognise that ones own limitations and boundaries are not the same as the person sitting next to you.
The one fun thing we do know from these 10 days is the students have learnt there is an Art to Farting. The students become comfortable in their surroundings and have amazing memories of experiences that are life changing.
For me; I cannot wait until next years Outward Bound!