First, an update from Day 5. After checking out of our dorms in lovely (and we now appreciate as cool) Flagstaff, we began the journey back down to lower altitude with a stop along the way to see the red rocks of Sedona. First up – a trip to the local “swimming hole,” a concept that was totally foreign to most of our boys. We started in a more quiet section of the river that allowed for wading, splashing, and eating lunch in the shade, then about half of the group chose to move to the more crowded “deep section” for some more traditional swimming (while the other continued enjoying the shade and an occasional wade to cool off a bit. From there, we visited main street Sedona. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many shops dedicated to crystals (or krystals), chakras, and auras. The highlight was definitely the ice cream, and the low point was the slow realization that we had been lulled into a false sense of security by the weather of Flagstaff. Arizona is HOT!
After another 5 hours on the bus, we finally arrived at U of A (Dr. Jenkins’ alma matter, at least for the doctorate). After some dinner, gathering keys, and a mandatory orientation on the rules of the dorm, we all went to bed!!
Next morning, it was off to the Sonora Desert Museum. Were learned and saw a lot, although my favorite was the river otter (who knew those existed in the desert?). Other highlights – hummingbirds,stingrays, and learning all about cactus. Turns out, they’re REALLY heavy. It was a fascinating morning, followed by a quick transition to our afternoon concert, the final concert of the festival. And what a great concert – we were also informed that it was filmed, so we hope to have that available to all of you soon.
Afterward, all the boys and staff of the festival came together for a celebration celebratory banquet, which was really a lovely event. All of our boys were given New Jersey pins to share with new friends from other choirs, which was a fun and well-received way to continue building connections. So was the eight-way video game tournament that took place later that evening in the dorm lobby. Or at least it’s how most of our boys spent their free time – a few of them went to hang out with the 8-9 year olds from Hong Kong in their rooms. Either way, there were friendships born and brotherhood strengthened in many forms.