Worth reading, and even bringing to your next PTA meeting:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I felt compelled to write you a little note, today, as I have a confession to make.
For the past two years, I’ve been in charge of the picnic at my son’s school, here in Winnipeg. Last year, I followed the bare bones instructions of the previous organizer, and did as had been done for years.
This year, however, changes were forced upon us due to a major construction project on the school grounds. We had to have the picnic to a park a couple of streets over. Only problem was that we had to forego bouncy houses on this particular site, which would be a disappointment to the kids, as this had become a tradition.
To make up for this, I started searching for large group game ideas and fell upon your blog post about a school picnic experience. I found it quite interesting, but did not have the courage to dive into letting the picnic go “Free-Range.” I spent hours over the past week preparing games, signs, collecting material for last night’s picnic.
Then, just as the party was about to begin, there was a problem with our hot dog vendor. While I was busy trying to figure that out, families were arriving. My games weren’t set up and I didn’t have time to give full instructions to the volunteers. I was panicking! But do you know what?
The kids had fun! They ran, they kicked balls they’d brought along. They rolled down the grassy hills, did their own face painting with the stuff I’d left on a table and meant to go back to set up, and just enjoyed being in an open space, running free. In other words, THEY ENJOYED THEMSELVES, without having any structure! The principal and the vice-principal, parents, kids… They all told me they LOVED the picnic this year because the kids were free to run and play.
You were right. I didn’t TRUST what you wrote. I should have. I know now.
Thank you for your blog. Our future picnics will be minimally structured, as they should have always been.
All the best, Joelle