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.
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.
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.
“This will be good for us,” said their mother, Sally, who accompanied us.
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.
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”.
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.
Click here to see one of the performance pieces (Echo Chambers) featured by our local television company : http://whidbeytv.com. 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.
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!