Rafting with 7 Toms by Emily

We were on the sixth grade trip.  It was the first day and we had just taken a lovely boat ride through a cave.  In places the ceiling was low and I had to duck.  Colorful lights showed off the contours and unusual shapes of the walls and ceiling.  I was sufficiently awed.

Now we were donning life vests for a trip down a river on bamboo rafts.  The male teacher and I had quickly sized up the situation — boys, water, rafts — and knew that wisdom called for a chaperone on each of the boys’ rafts.  The girls would have to ride with just their oarsman.

.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I jumped aboard a raft with seven squirming boys, one of which was Sumner. Our weather-wrinkled driver took a long bamboo pole and pushed against the bottom of the river to propel us along.

Here’s snippets of the conversation aboard our raft:

Boy 1:  We’re going too slow.

Sumner:  How do you say, “Go faster in Chinese?”

Someone  answered.

Boys 1, 3 and 4: Quie dian.

Me:  Please don’t say that. He’s working hard.


Boy 5:  Then why are the girls catching up?

Boy 1:  No fair.  We got a slow driver.

Me:  Hey Sum, remember Tom Sawyer?

Sumner:  Yeah.

Me:  Do you guys know about Tom Sawyer?  We’re like Tom.

Boy 6:  This is so boring.

Boy 4:  There’s nothing to do but float along.  Can we swim?

Me:  No.  Do you guys think you could make a bamboo raft?

A few boys:  Probably.  Wouldn’t be hard.  Oh yeah, no problem.

Me:  How would you do it?

Boy 3:  The girls are passing us!


Boy 7:  My shoes are getting wet.

Others:  Mine too.


Me:  How fun is this.  They’ll dry.

Boy 6:  Look.  The girls have a water gun on their boat. No fair.

Boys:  Let’s catch up and grab it.

Boy 1:  Yeah, and squirt them.

Boy 3:  Yeah, but they might scream.

Boy 4:  This is boring. Too slow.

Me:  Look at all the ducks — and so many ducklings!  Wow.

Boy 5:  Why aren’t we going faster?

Me:  When was the last time you were on a bamboo raft?

A few:  Never.

Me:  The driver’s sweating.  I bet he’s got big muscles from pushing us.

The boys glance at him momentarily.

Sumner: The girls are leaving us.  We’re going to be in last place.

Boy 4:  Grab the water gun!

Boy 5:  Can’t.  They’re too far away.

Boy 7:  Look, a plastic water bottle. Get it.

Sumner grabbed it from the river and began to fill it with water.

Me:  Don’t put your fingers in your mouth now.  The water may be really polluted.

Sumner:  Look, a shrimp!  (He got it in the bottle)

Boy 4:  Let me have it.

Sumner:  No, it’s mine.  (He fished and got two more)

Me:  Cool.  Do you think we could eat them?

Boys:  No way.  They’re gross.

Me:  I love shrimp.

Boy 5:  We’re way behind.  Our boat is too slow.


Boy 7:  My feet are totally wet.

Me:  This is so much fun.

Boy 1:  How much longer?

Boy 6:  Look.  We’re about to run aground.

Boy 3:  Can we jump off and swim to shore?



3 thoughts on “Rafting with 7 Toms by Emily

  1. Emily I absolutely love reading your posts. Got a chuckle out of this last one and was awed by the one about your beautiful feet. Again THANKS to you and your family for sharing snippets of your life in China.

    • Mel, it was humorous being a fly on the wall –or a mother in one of the seats — aboard the raft with the boys, including Sumner. 🙂 Glad you’re reading and thanks for the encouragement. Sure miss you guys. Are the leaves changing yet? Happy Fall. 🙂

      • Tried to send an email reply but doesn’t seem to want to go out. I have pictures to share. Any suggestions how to do that?

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