Updated: Dec 17, 2018
Tuesday was already going to be a cold one but the wind chill brought the temperature down to 8 degrees! Right off the bat, several of the children used the tarp as a wind-breaker to cover our semi-permanent shelter and then dove in to have some hot tea. Our quinzee melted down into a fairly solid ice mound while retaining a hollowed out space underneath. A couple other participants became completely engrossed in trying to destroy it. They used all manner of destruction they could come up with: stomped with their boots, smashed with their hands, shoved thick branches underneath to try and pop the ice up. Throughout this whole process, there was so much conversation and each waited for room when they wanted to throw ice blocks at it or use giant sticks. I was quite impressed that there were no bumps/bruises during this experience!
After that, a child was desperate to get a game of Capture the Flag going. Another child countered the offer with Zombie Capture the Flag. The first child sullenly said that it wouldn’t work with a zombie. A third child offered up Freeze Tag as an option. Second child clarified ZOMBIE Freeze Tag, right?? For reasons unknown to me, this game brought an enthusiastic chorus of agreement from all parties. They set up boundaries and agreed on rules surprisingly quickly: Zombie Freeze Tag: Two Fast Chasing Zombies would chase the other kids (is there anything scarier than fast zombies??). If tagged, the person turned into a Slow Zombie and could either freeze in place or walk slowly while make zombie noises, although they were totally fine with one child opting for no noises at all. Anyone who had not been tagged could unfreeze the Slow Zombies. Game would be over when everyone had been turned into Zombies. Before they started, they went around and showed everyone how they wanted to be “tagged.” Some children wanted to be tagged on the shoulder, while others wanted to be tagged on the belly. They described how gentle of a tap they wanted from their friends and practiced. Consent starts early, friends, and it isn't as difficult as some people make it out to be!
And then it was game time! Not only was it ridiculously fun and full of opportunities for compromise and intellectual challenges, it was also very insightful for Erin and I to observe how the kids played. One of them couldn’t quite grasp the rules, which frustrated some of the participants while others didn’t care. Another was only interested in popping in and out of the game without warning. They were all surprisingly gentle in tagging one another.
In a game like that, each child is so brilliantly highlighted in their own unique place of development physically, intellectually, socially, communicatively, emotionally and spiritually. But also highlighted is how similar we are... I don't quite know how to convey this part... it is a gift to have the time and space to love each child where they are at and support them in their challenges and celebrate their victories. Caregivers of our participants- thank you for sharing your children with us. For all the differences there are within this group, it felt almost like poetry come to life as we bounced on the slack line in rhythm with one another and shared what was special to each of us about the day.