We built this fort to play in when I was out in Montana. When a blanket would fall I would comment to the girls, "don't get upset. we're having issues with the structural integrity of this fort." Later they would parrot, "Becca. You need to fix the structural integrity of this part."
We played in that fort for a solid 2 hours one afternoon. The fort was a spaceship and took us to dinosaur planet, the fort became a boat and took us to bear attack island and the fort was our little shelter from the big, huge storm outside and we had to keep our babies safe. My hair was a static mess, and due to either poor structural integrity or the 2 1/2 year old who didn't understand the fragile nature of a fort, we had to rebuild and secure our blankets with more pillows and clothespins quite often.
At one point we were laughing so hard that I had tears streaming down my face which instantly silenced both little girls who asked quite seriously, "why are you sad, Aunt Bec?" But I was not sad. I was so stinkin' happy. So happy to be free to play so hard, to be silly, to be dramatic, to use funny voices, to feel my heart race as we closed up every hole on our fort so no bears could get in. Playtime is fullyalive time.
The past three days I was at an American Camping Association conference with other camp folk. I ate lunch with a woman who shared a similar passion for imagination. She said that teaching imagination is actually a part of their staff training. And that each day with the campers there are blocks of times when props are given, vague instructions are presented and the end result is imagination.
I think camp is one of the most imaginative places on earth. Skits, storytelling, improv games, time fillers, costumes all the time, tricks up your sleeve...it's all full of creativity and making something more than it really is. But this woman was so interesting as she commented, "ten years ago I didn't have to teach imagination. The counselors came with one. And I still have a good handful that know how to play pretend. But the number is growing for the counselors who need help in finding their ability to see what isn't really there."
The gift of playing pretend and dreaming up worlds and storylines that are completely fictitious is a world I never grew out of. This conversation was thought-provoking, leaving me to wonder and dream of how we can help foster growth in all of our kids this summer, ages five to twenty-five. Imagination Education. A very interesting thought.