Youth—Let’s Talk!

It has been my great privilege and joy to spend much of my time these last weeks immersing myself in youthful spontaneity, curiosity, and creativity.

Our grandchildren the rock hoppers, photo by Ann Linnea

First, there was our marvelous, annual time with our dear grandchildren. Jaden (12) and Sasha (6) are city kids with a willingness to follow their grandmothers most anywhere.


Obstruction Pass State Park hike, photo by Sally Schimpf

 This year we decided to take them to Orcas Island for 5 days of exploration based in a cabin with no wifi, tv, or video capabilities.

Shamrock Cabin, North Beach Resort, photo by Sally Schimpf

“This will be good for us,” said their mother, Sally, who accompanied us.

Sally loving a high perch on a sunny day, photo by Ann Linnea

Instead of “down” time being the equivalent of “device” time, we filled those moments with campfires on the beach, playing board games like Apples to Apples, working together to cook in the tiny kitchen, or just talking with one another.

It’s a big experiment stepping into a time that requires more face-to-face interaction. It’s an experiment their grandmothers (and our little dog) are deeply invested in and appreciate very much.

Creek Walking, by Ann Linnea

 Second, my year’s work with a group of local high school students culminated in an outstanding Earth Day assembly that was entirely written, produced, and performed by the students. The principal of South Whidbey High School called it the high school’s “best ever Earth Day”.

My cohort and friend, Julie Glover and I, in front of the Climate Action Project youth

After the 55-minute assembly in the auditorium, the dozen students that had written poems, skits, and songs, came out for a formal bow and their fellow students gave them a standing ovation.

South Whidbey High School Earth Day assembly, photo by Ann Linnea

Click here to see one of the performance pieces (Echo Chambers) featured by our local television company : In 5 minutes these three young women effectively tackle one of the biggest issues in the U.S. today—we are not talking to each other!

Third, on April 21, I was a guest speaker (via Skype) in a “Wilderness in American Life” class at Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina. The young people chose to focus on Standing Rock as an example of a complex environmental issue.

Ann on Skype call with Brevard College youth, photo by Christina Baldwin

A mixture of junior and senior college students had many questions for me: Why do you think Standing Rock garnered so much attention? Why did you choose to go? What did you learn? What are some of the stories that were most meaningful to you? Why did the veterans choose to make a presence?

These students are talking to one another. They are talking to their professor. They are talking to guest lecturers in thoughtful, respective ways.

In the last month I have had pretty in-depth interactions with about three-dozen young people ranging in age from 6 to 21. Not a huge sampling, but an inspiring one. Can’t generalize to “all youth”, but can report that my thoughts and actions have been influenced and inspired.

Strongly recommend a dose of youthful interaction to anyone!

Grandma watching her kids at sunset on Orcas Island, photo by Sally Schimpf

14 replies
  1. Katharine
    Katharine says:

    Reading your story, Ann, I remember my first time at ALIA in 2002, in what was the earliest prototype of an Art of Hosting training. Rich diversity in ages. I would sit on the periphery of
    a group of twenty something women, mesmerized by their energy, clarity, and boldness of dreaming and action. As we said our goodbyes, I told them that if all were to go according to the natural order of things, I would pass on knowing the world would be in very good hands.

  2. Barbara Joy Laffey
    Barbara Joy Laffey says:

    Making a profound difference in all of your various worlds. You are such an inspiration! Blessings and love!

  3. Laurie Greig
    Laurie Greig says:

    There are a lot of fortunate kids out there—Sally, Jaden, Sasha–included. So glad you can share you knowledge and wisdom in the school too. My favorite is the beautiful photo of Sally on the rock!!

  4. Kate Stockman
    Kate Stockman says:

    Our youth are our hope! I em so encouraged as I see more and more youth and young adults becoming involved and engaged with what is going on in our world! Thanks to parents (and grandparents!)and teachers and communities that raise kids so they CAN be curious and interested.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *