This summer I led my own little mini day camp for neighborhood kids, dubbed "Camp Kimmie" by the Mom who helped me get it organized. The children ranged in in age from 4-8, so we were able to go out there and have some real big kid adventures. We went to the beach once a week (poor me, right?), visited museums, ate ice cream, tie dyed, went swimming... and best of all, hung out outside.
With all the structured activities kids do all year in school and even in other summer camps, it seemed nice to provide an opportunity for the kids to just be kids. Let the timeline blur and just sit in a field inventing games if they wanted. I have to say, it wasn't easy, but it wasn't rocket science either. With children I've always leaned more toward camp counselor mode anyway, singing songs, dancing, cracking jokes, instigating games and obstacle courses etc, but this summer was far less glamorous. My main "work" was making sure everyone got on and off the train (sometimes 6 of them!), diffusing negativity and getting everyone back in time. I found I didn't have energy for much more than that!
As a child care provider, I've always enjoyed the way kids seemingly relate to me differently than a parent or teacher. I get to be a part of some very interesting moments where I'm regarded more like a peer than typical "grownup." I like to think if these adventures as providing an opportunity for them to build their individualities and see new things, outside of school and parents. Moments like this were very transformative for me.
I think I saw every kid friendly thing there is to see in this town and while I did enjoy it, I'm ready for a break!
On our trip to Snug Harbour we [I] enjoyed the beautiful gardens and architecture. Along the way we came across a beautiful praying mantis (gosh they are huge!) and carefully observed her for some time. I can't believe how expressive this bugs face was, or her creepy yet graceful walking style. None of us had ever seen one before, so it was exciting. Shortly after we left the mantis I heard a kid shout "Oh my GOD! A huge bird!!" followed by a loud rustling. So we quietly walked over and discovered a Blue Heron wading in a tiny stream.
I find such encounters with nature incredible. Growing up in Maine, I saw Herons all the time out the car window, but never three feet away. There's something really special about it, especially I think, for the kids growing up in the city. 'City wildlife' is obviously and perhaps sadly, more tolerable of people, which affords you a closer glimps at times.
On our last day we rode the Tram to Roosevelt Island. I wanted to see the Smallpox Hospital ruins and the view of the city. The kids loved the tram of course, but then kept asking "Where are we going? What are we doing? What's over there? Why are we going there?" which completely annoyed me and wore me down. So I stopped and in my kindest, yet firm, Mary Poppins tone told them something like: "Kids, we ARE here. THIS is where we are going. Don't think about what is next. Look around you. Notice that it is a new place that you have NEVER been to before. What does it look like? How is it different? What can you find? Enjoy it"
And they did. No more complaints. Magically they came together at this moment and started collaborating on a project together: building robots. Because the city has been working to clean up the south end of the island and make it a park, there was all this debris lying around. Nothing dangerous, just bits of plastic, cords... I can't even remember what else! They filled their little hands and spent the whole train ride home constructing their bots. It was very cool to watch. No arguments, perfect sharing of supplies and helping each other out. I kept my mouth shut the entire time, so as not to interrupt or ruin it!
I love the faded quality of the photos from that day. To see more, visit my Camp Kimmie Photo Gallery!