What if kids made the rules?
I just finished my first week at a summer camp on an organic farm set amongst beautiful woodland and a nearby creek. It's an ideal setting to get kids outdoors with the opportunity to learn about and care for the farm's animals and produce. Although it might sound peaceful and idyllic, when you group lots of kids together in one place, it's not uncommon to get... well... a little bit of chaos.
I spent the week working with a rowdy bunch of under 8's whose energy could have powered an entire town if only we could have captured it and turned it into electricity. They certainly kept me on my toes, tested my patience, but also made me laugh with the amusing things they said and did.
When the week started, every group came up with their own ideas about ways to behave to make sure everyone stayed safe and happy. We all agreed to abide by these rules for the entirety of the week. As you can probably guess, the agreement included things like:
“Be nice to each other.”
“Listen to the instructions.”
“Stay together as a group.”
Ours also included, “Eat snack.” (Probably because it was nearing midmorning snack time when we were making these rules and food was on their mind...)
But, as the week progressed, some boundaries were tested and the rules were stretched and strained a little (except for the “Eat snack” one. They stuck to that one, no problem).
For example, after having a stick from his fort stolen, one boy named Jason decided to grab a stick out of the offender's hand and throw it as far as he could. When I asked Jason, “Why did you do that?” His response was, “If she does something mean to me, I do something mean back.”
That prompted a good discussion about what would happen if that were truly a rule. We talked about how it would just result in doing mean things to each other back and forth like an everlasting game of ping pong.
After that incident I started thinking, what sort of 'rules' would kids create if left to their own devices? The more I thought about it, the more the idea amused me... So based on the real experiences I had with the kids this week, I've created a list of 'rules' that I think some kids might come up with. Starting with Jason's rule of revenge, here it is!
Happy summer everyone!