We had a lot of fun this semester playing at the park, at the house, and on our “adventure walks” in between. I say “adventure” because that’s what it is when kids are be able to go somewhere at (more or less) their own pace, focusing on their own imaginative imperatives and play instead of on the adult shepherding them along. I call for them to pick up the pace if we need to be getting home, but otherwise I let them mosey along, allowing them to stop and smell the flowers (literally and figuratively), chat up the neighbors, or continue a game begun at the park.
This is not just free play–of which kids cannot get too much–it’s free play in movement from one place to another. This enables them to think on their feet, greeting the people they encounter (and the dogs!), noticing changes from previous days (like the construction on Justin Lane), and generally asking and answering their own questions: Should I climb in that recycling bin? Should I take that thing lying on someone’s curb? (I like to let them pick up freebies because it’s a thrill for them to snag free stuff–kids need to hear the word “Yes!” in such contexts more–but it’s also a great lesson in perserverance in getting such stuff home single-handedly or by talking a friend into helping. It’s a perk for me that I get to see every day what they consider to be treasures, a nice break from adult metrics.)
So the opportunity for free play offered by the Camp Vamonos! After-School Care program is nicely supplemented by the simple yet very rich walk home my kiddos get every day. If the adventures my sisters and I had on our mile walk from school to home in our elementary years are any indication, these walks will long be remembered by my young friends.