This weekend I brought our kids and myself to the Ginger Cascades Girl Scout camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. For your daily dose of News to Enthuse, I’m making a car trip once a day with my laptop to surf the local library’s WiFi network in Hickory, NC. So, updates will not be as plentiful while I enjoy some time off this weekend. (Hickory, by the way, is a small and stately city with a handsome historical district. It hosts two college campuses and many young families pushing strollers on sidewalks lined with huge trees and manicured lanes.
A group of NC homeschoolers rented the camp and handled details for 30 families so we could play (and sometimes learn) together for four days. Most of us are “unschoolers” and practice natural learning. We don’t believe our kids need textbooks, curriculums, and most certainly, standardized tests, to become smart, educated, lifelong learners. In fact, those things often deter the creative kid by setting up a pattern of rebellion, resentment or apathy toward learning. (Sound familiar?)
It’s dark and I’m writing in front of a campfire right now (for later uploading). We are sleeping in wooden shelters on pine strewn hills, hiking up steep trails that connect the camp and eating communal meals. Saturday morning we’ll do a “Challenge Course” that is a permanent fixture here. We’ll engage — or not — in funshops hosted by various interesting family members here teaching stuff like bead-making, jewelry assembly, tai chi, or organizing a game of capture the flag. (I’m leading a how-to-meditate session at 4pm today so I can’t spend much time publishing this afternoon.) Like every other day in the kids’ lives, their passions will be leading the way to what interests them most. Mostly our three kids, ages 10-15, will hang out together in a pack of teens and preteens who’ve became long-distance friends through the many conferences like this that we’ve traveled to around the country.
For a week in September I’ll be hosting the Good News Network in Albuquerque from the annual Live and Learn Conference. That unschoolers gathering is renown for transforming families and (for those who are already transformed) interesting things to do. How about funshops on constructing chain mail, making guitars, all things Harry Potter, comedy improv, or making nitro-glycerine ice cream? (I think it was nitro-glycerine, I was doing somthing else so can’t be sure what they were doing, all I know is there was fog rolling out from under the door…Learn more about Unschooling