Sam’s been at his summer camp for a week and it is awesome! It’s Reggio-inspired, his teacher is a painter, the kids get lots of time outside, and the focus of the summer is making art from recycled materials. I wish I could go to summer camp.

The camp is in a semi-industrial part of town, tucked between the Platte River and the railroad tracks. Every day, arriving and departing, Sam has noticed what he thought was a well, in the parking lot. We kept meaning to stop and check it out, but there was always something stopping us. We’d be late to pick up Bel, there’d be an approaching thunderstorm, and yesterday, when I really wanted to stop, we had the adventure of changing a flat tire (in the industrial wasteland, late to pick up Bel, with hints of a thunderstorm on the horizon). Needless to say, we didn’t have time to check out the well.

So today, with the slashed tire repaired, we finally stopped! And it isn’t a well after all. It turns out it’s a storm drain, which was still pretty interesting for Sam. He thought it was a well because of the big yellow blocks surrounding the drain, and because on all of the previous days he could see a huge puddle of water inside the yellow blocks.

You can see that most of the water has either filtered down through the grate, or evaporated. The mud became even more interesting than the drain, as he poked around and talked about the difference between wet and dry dirt. He was also wondering about the difference between mud and clay, so we’ve got a plan to talk to his Grandpa Roth about that, once we get to Washington.

It reminded me that some of the best experiences are also the simplest. At work, to guide our process through some much needed curriculum changes, we’re reading Young Investigators by Judy Harris Helm and Lilian Katz. The authors advocate engaging kids in field experiences or site visits that are close to home (or school), at the beginning of a project, rather than elaborate field trips when a project or unit of study is complete. A very simple concept, that doesn’t always happen in traditional school settings.

I know that Sam would choose the storm drain in the parking lot over Disney On Ice any day, which is why this summer camp is so perfect for him. On the first day, the kids and teachers walked the parking lots around the office buildings, looking for materials for art projects, and just checking out anything that caught their interest.

Did I mention that I wish I could go to summer camp too?


2 thoughts on “Well…

  1. Me too! If you find one I will totally join you. Although I think summer camp for adults in called unemployment. I love the comment and reading about feild trips – it was a “well, duh” moment for me.

  2. I’ve been reading a little about the best tide pool areas around here. It would be fun to get more information and explore them when you visit. We were at Sequim Bay last weekend at a fairly low tide and were fascinated by the critters we could see.
    A field trip to the Elwha River would be fun. And we have the Dungeness River in our own back yard. Yay! Rivers and streams!
    Too bad about the flat tire.

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