Never Give Up

Zipline 2018 was, of course, a feat of engineering, but it was also a picture perfect, hiccupy-struggle of stop and start in how project planning at our tinkering summer camp works.

  The campers could see that this rope and bicycle wheel combination resembled a pulley system. This spoke to them, but they were met with so many hurdles. They couldn't find a single length of rope, they couldn't pull the ropes taut, and they couldn't figure out how to move something along the length of the zip line.

The campers could see that this rope and bicycle wheel combination resembled a pulley system. This spoke to them, but they were met with so many hurdles. They couldn't find a single length of rope, they couldn't pull the ropes taut, and they couldn't figure out how to move something along the length of the zip line.

"I won't build it for you," I overheard one of the counselors tell a tinkering camper. It wasn't the first time I heard him say it so I knew that the zipline builders were hitting snags and were frustrated. Just as every camper brings personal interests and skills to the play, the counselors (all young adults) do too and this counselor was identified in some magic way as a person who "got" ziplines.

In some settings, this adult help might mean setting out not just the materials, but the actual plan for some project or another. There are even reasons why this would be done, safety maybe, but more likely it is about achieving success. 

In this case, NOT helping or rather helping in a very certain way meant true, to the core, success. Success for the campers and at the same time for this particular counselor and for the program itself.

We train our camp counselors and what a lovely thing to see the training stick. In this case, the counselor brainstormed with the children and he did something that I can assure you rewired the campers' brains! He walked them through how to both draw their ideas for the zipline and how to build a model of that zipline.

Amazing.

  A consultation with Tarik. There were many wonderful moments between Tarik and the campers which plainly revealed reflection and imagination at work. 

A consultation with Tarik. There were many wonderful moments between Tarik and the campers which plainly revealed reflection and imagination at work. 

  At first they used a drawing. This helped them all come to some agreement about the ropes and moved them towards a kind of gondola-design.

At first they used a drawing. This helped them all come to some agreement about the ropes and moved them towards a kind of gondola-design.

  The knots!!!! The thing you can always trust about children's knots is that they will hardly ever, maybe even never, come undone! 

The knots!!!! The thing you can always trust about children's knots is that they will hardly ever, maybe even never, come undone! 

  At a certain point in the build, the drawing no longer worked for the design team, Tarik taught them how to make a model of the gondola-zip line idea. Work began in earnest on this iteration on Day 4!

At a certain point in the build, the drawing no longer worked for the design team, Tarik taught them how to make a model of the gondola-zip line idea. Work began in earnest on this iteration on Day 4!

  While they had not yet been successful, negotiations for how other campers would get rides took place. The design team had made tickets and after a group discussion, they decided to open their hearts and let anyone with an interest (no ticket necessary) have a turn on the contraption. 

While they had not yet been successful, negotiations for how other campers would get rides took place. The design team had made tickets and after a group discussion, they decided to open their hearts and let anyone with an interest (no ticket necessary) have a turn on the contraption. 

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Now this is surely a successful venture!