You say mud, I say river, imaginary sports and an incredibly disgruntled green team.
Last week I went to an activities camp in which the students had to speak in English, they were aged 8-11, quite small and wore big smiles. That’s enough description.
On my second day there, twenty boy, aged eight to nine transformed the remnants of a stream caused by rain into a fully-blown river. We were supposed to be playing games with them but after having a drink of water they each started working as a team using only their plastic cups and the water tap to create the river. They then got more into it, and some of them became diggers so that the water would run in the right direction and others were supervisors but only a couple. The majority were working hard to make the river. This lasted 50 minutes.
The imagination is something we’re taught to use less as we get older but I think it is among the most important parts of our thought process.
Without imagination, where do new ideas come from?
Inspired by their achievement of building a river with a tap and some cups, when we returned to the camp, there was a pair of bored kids by the table football that required one euro to play. (I know, right. One euro). I stood beside one of them and placed an invisible ball on the table before beginning to spin, jolt and throw the players all over the pitch. At first, they looked at me like I was mad. Then they made a bold choice and were mad with me. My team suffered a valiant 9-7 defeat, but that was okay. We played for free.
I later lost a game of imaginary ping pong, mainly because every time the ball was on my side of the table it would turn into a steaming boulder or an arrow or bullet.
Beware of children. They will cheat and they will laugh at you when they win.
On the final morning, we had to walk oh so far (for small legs), to play a game in the woods. There were four teams of four different colours who had a code to decipher. Each of the letters was printed on card that was the colour of their team. Blue, orange, red and green.
Now at this point you may be thinking, this is a good idea. You would be right if they didn’t have to play it in the woods. The woods are green.
It was impossible to find the cards. They found half and everyone else had finished. The best thing was, instead of playing the game and deciphering the code, a lot of the children from other teams wanted to help the green team find their cards.
The long and the short of it is, nobody won the game but kindness overwhelmed the want for victory so much that it didn’t matter.
I think I learned more from the kids over three days than the kids did from me.