Jul 20, 2018

Volunteer Gig: Kid's Camp 2018

I just spent four days volunteering at a camp for kids grades 3-6 sponsored by a local police department. It's four days of kids, kids, kids.  Oh, and fun stuff for them to do that allows them to interact with various agencies such as Police, Fire, Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Search and Rescue, SWAT, and a Martial Arts company.

There were around 250 kids, which felt like 25,000. I'm not much of a kid person, so I really stepped out of my comfort zone but I found it quite rewarding.  I'm naturally curious about all things, so I stopped thinking about how I'd much rather be downing margaritas (and trust me, I needed them after the first few hours) and started thinking about the kids and their behavior.

Here's what I noticed or learned...

All the kids were great at times...some were awesome most of the time...and a few were obviously sent from the depths of hell to push me into insanity or alcoholism.  I was actually afraid to drink during the week since I could imagine I'd never want to stop. Seriously.

Third and fourth graders are so full of energy and life, they actually made me want to be a healthier person. I wanted to be able to run and jump and laugh and scream at will without my bones creaking or my foot, back, neck, ankle, etc, hurting. Trust me, though, after a day with those kids, I needed a nap and a soft couch...for hours.

Some girls don't want to compete against boys. Some girls apparently learn (at a very young age) that it's not "fair" to compete against boys.  I politely explained that it's not fair...for the boys!  I want to ensure ya'll know I'm not totally generalizing, some of the girls were all for it, but the majority had serious issues with competing against boys. We weren't even playing for prizes...and still, some girls refused to play at all because they didn't feel comfortable competing because they thought the boys had an unfair advantage. What exactly are we teaching our little girls to make them think they aren't equal? And, even more of concern, is how are we going to make these girls believe they CAN compete when they are older if they can't even do it in the third grade?

Some girls learn way too soon that being "pretty" gets you special treatment. I actually had two little girls run up to me and tell me they got a prize because they were "cute."  I'm sure it wasn't meant as a bad thing, and it wasn't a gesture done out of any weirdness...and they were the most adorable girls I've ever seen. The girls were thrilled they were given free slurpies and they didn't have to do anything at all other than smile and look pretty.  So smile.  And be pretty.  Cause good things will come.  Right.

Some girls fall in love and chase boys they have no chance of getting. I'm not just talking about me and the cute fireman I saw (cause I DO realize I'm way too old and entertaining for him) I was shocked to see this behavior can begin as soon as third grade....and I felt so bad for the little girl who didn't understand why the boy didn't return her affection (in this case, that would have been in the form of sitting with her when he said he would). It was horrific to see this little 3rd grader heartbroken over a boy who would never really notice her.  And I thought she was way too young to feel that way. And I wanted to warn her, this is the first of many! Sad.  Poor thing.

Parents lie about their kid's medical history.  I say this with all the kindness and love I can muster, but trust me, I surmise that some of these kids certainly have medical issues (think ADHD, autism, etc) that parents didn't report to staff.  This information is important in placing kids with the right team and ensuring the kids get the attention they need and deserve. Having this information can make the difference between your kid having a great time or feeling like someone is badgering them because they are incapable of sitting still during a 40 minute presentation.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is this:

Teachers and those who work with kids on a daily basis are saints.

I've never obviously* had kids. (*thank goodness)  But, there is no greater form of birth control than having your high schooler participate in a kids camp and allow them to be around 40 kids and be primarily in charge of ensuring the kids get to their destination on time, keep quiet when needed, play safely, don't take cuts, don't scream, cheat, push, pull, stomp on, run over, chase each other with fish guts, or any other action activity that may be unacceptable at any given time. So get those kids out there to volunteer!

Aww, kids.  You gotta love them...especially since you can't put them in the backyard with the dog...who am I trying to snowball? Trout doesn't even stay in the backyard. She has full run of the house and I'm pretty darn sure any kid of mine would have full run of everything too.

This was an awesome experience, so get your web browser up and moving...start looking for a kid's camp to volunteer with! And if YOU work with kids, thank you thank you thank you!  You're a super special person who deserves all the best in life!!!

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