Musings from Camp Create

“Our campers have shown that joy exists wherever there is learning and improvement.”

This summer MAGIS had its third run of our yearly day camp for kids, Camp Create. We welcomed 11 children to classes like drama, hiphop, yoga, painting, taekwondo, and Treasure Trash (a class on environmental awareness and the how to’s of upcycling).

Needless to say, our days at camp were sometimes tiring. We found ourselves getting reintroduced to the sheer amount of energy 6 to 12-year-olds somehow possessed, worlds apart from quiet offices or bustling coffee shops—two environments more natural to an adult. Though no matter how unenergetic or caffeine-deprived a camp facilitator might be in the mornings, there is one thing we can agree on. We always end the day with full hearts and a smile on our faces. It’s no secret but kids teach adults as much as, or even more than, they’d learn from their teachers. From spending a full month at camp, we’ve jotted down our lasting lessons, learned from the campers themselves.

1. There is meaning in mess and chaos.

We began camp with clean tables, wrapped in all-white tarpaulins. In the beginning we tried to keep this surface spotless but admittedly, there’s something about seeing the sheets filled with color that shows us what’s more important: that the kids dive into creating. Painting, crafting, and sculpting—these tables are testaments to all they have explored. And the mess or occasional chaos in the classroom is only an indication that they are engaged. As adults, there is a tendency to prefer kids sitting still, staying quiet and behaved but at camp, we saw the magic of providing them space to experiment. With so much skills left to learn and activities to try out, a little mess and disorder may not be a bad thing.

2. Live in the now.

Anyone who has worked with children knows that it takes a bit of creativity to plan games or activities that capture their attention. Some themes may engage them more than others but once they’re hooked, the game, activity, or their artwork is all that matters. Squabbles among classmates are forgiven; earlier frustrations are forgotten. They really know how to live in the moment and squeeze every opportunity dry. That’s why they ask for 5 more minutes to finish their work or play outside. It’s in their nature to cherish each moment while us adults can’t wait for the next task to be over. It may take greater effort, but we could certainly take a cue from children on how to be truly present.

3. Little accomplishments are to be celebrated.

As facilitators, it is certainly a feat to watch the kids discover their flexibility in yoga or improve their kicks through weeks in taekwondo. However, seemingly smaller achievements can bring them the same wide grins of self-confidence. From tying shoelaces and learning to cut straight edges to having the awareness to verbalize their emotions, developing such skills are momentous in themselves. After being called out in a game, one 6-year-old stepped aside and admitted “Teacher, I am upset.” Yet from there, we took a few breaths and re-joined the group as if nothing happened. With adults, there is a tendency to disqualify even our own feats of self-regulation and the littlest positive deeds we accomplish. Our campers, on the other hand, have shown that joy exists wherever there is learning and improvement.

4. Creating is a language in itself.

At camp, the kids were given license to create whatever they wanted: animals out of toilet paper rolls, canvasses out of rocks, and planters out of newspapers. With our favorite guideline “all art is good art,” they allowed their imaginations to run free. They remained open to every medium, even wet and mushy potter’s clay which smelled somewhat funky. Through every drawing we got to know each child a little better. Engaging in different art forms became their way of playing, both with one another and their teachers. It makes us wonder…if adults similarly made space for some creativity and playfulness, what possibilities would emerge? What is left to be discovered?

For more information on expressive arts therapy or any of our creative classes for children, contact us through these channels.

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