For the past several years, my wife and I have served as mentors to students attending Fairview Elementary School.

Every other Wednesday, we'll show up at the school with lunch in hand for our mentees (sometimes it's pizza, sometimes it's burgers, sometimes it's Taco Bell) and talk to them about a number of subjects.

In the case of the students I've mentored, we've generally talked about sports, grades, homework, video games and TV shows. No, as far as I know, we haven't brought up the subject of girls or dating.

Many of these mentees don't necessarily have it easy. Some don't have a good home life, some have trouble at school, some have various other issues they are dealing with.

But it's our job as mentors to kind of give them encouragement, to be a positive influence in their lives, to know that we're on their side, inside the hallways of the school and outside. For the most part, we've gotten good feedback for our efforts.

Near the end of each school year, the mentors and mentees usually go somewhere fun as a reward for the time we've taken out of our busy schedules to do this. The last few years, we've been bowling.

But this year, we kind of wanted to do something different, and try something else for the last official mentoring session. Around this time last year, I suggested that we go to a baseball game.

I knew that the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, and several other minor league teams for that matter, generally put on a game or two near the end of the school year that starts in the morning and they bring in schoolkids to come fill up the stands and see a game. Sort of like a day-long field trip.

Since it was kind of too late to implement my suggestion at the end of the previous school year, we decided to aim to have it for our last mentoring session of this school year. We checked the schedule to find out what day would be perfect to take our group of students.

And so on Wednesday, we went up to Springdale for the Naturals' game against the Tulsa Drillers. First pitch was sometime after 11 a.m.

We got our tickets and eventually settled into our seats. There were a bunch of students in attendance from various schools in the area, including those from other schools in Fort Smith.

Some of the students had never seen a baseball game before and they were full of questions.

Among the questions:

"Are we going to catch any foul balls?"

"Was that a strike?"

"Are any of the players going to show up yet (since we got there about an hour prior to first pitch and the players had yet to come out for warmups)?"

"Are the Naturals a college team?"

They were also thrilled to get lunch at the ballpark, a combo consisting of a hot dog, chips and a soft drink generously donated by one of our sponsors. Though we had to find a good time to go to the concession stand to get it, since there were tons of students already in line.

It was a perfect day for a game, weather-wise, with hardly a cloud in the sky. A stark contrast to the previous Wednesday, when we were bombarded with rain.

And we got to see some action right from the get-go, as the second Naturals batter of the game hit a shot which landed in the bullpen beyond the right-field fence. An inning later, Tulsa countered with a homer of its own, and took a 4-1 lead.

Gradually, the Naturals began chipping away and eventually took the lead in the sixth. It was around that time when many of the students and teachers began leaving the ballpark as they needed to return to their respective schools in time for the final bell.

For the record, the Naturals went on to win, 6-5.

But regardless of what the final score was, I know many of the students in attendance had a great time.

I don't know if our mentees will ever see another professional baseball game or not in their lifetimes. There is a reason that line in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" about one not caring if they ever get back rings painfully true at times.

Not to mention it was probably the last time some of us will see our mentees. If so, we fervently hope they can make good grades and good decisions in their futures.

Whatever happens, though, I hope they will remember Wednesday as one of the best days they've ever experienced.

I know the feeling is mutual.