As this fourth week of summer camp comes to a close, the word “congruent” surfaces in my mind. Congruent means to be in agreement or in harmony. It comes from the Latin verb Congruere “to come together, correspond with.” All week long I’ve seen evidence of congruency in action.
When we developed our plan for this summer, we wanted to make sure what we were including in our marketing materials matched what we’re actually doing. In addition to the beautiful art children make in the summer program, we wanted to showcase the other layers of things we do so well, including helping children adjust to new routines, practicing social skills as a community member, learning to be a kind human being, and experiencing sensory activities related to studies that have emerged in each class. For older students there’s an emphasis on taking appropriate risks, trying new experiences, and learning to be a mindful compassionate leader. This week has been full of excellent examples of all these items.
Life with the toddlers and three-year-olds is overflowing with examples of thematic art and sensory play. In a half-hour time span on the toddler playground it’s the norm to see children chasing bubbles, painting with wet chalk, and holding up handfuls of pasta “worms” embedded in dirt. Their exuberant self-expression in the movement room is balanced during their process of gradually falling asleep with the help of their kind, caring teachers.
In the K-1 class, proud, happy faces reflected students’ enthusiasm for a spontaneous project to make a replica of a pet out of salt and flour dough. This was inspired by their teacher’s reporting that she got a new puppy, which resulted in each child wanting to tell his or her story of a favorite pet, past, present, or wished for in the future.
The addition of new special equipment like the “kid wash” (PVC pipe structure like a car wash) for water play day was an act of kindness by Bill, our facilities manager, who is always looking for new ways to enrich our students’ lives on the playground. It enhances the sensory experience for our older students in a way that’s appropriate for their developmental level, and at the same time makes them feel appreciated by an adult who is paying attention to what they like/need.
One of the best examples of congruency with our values and intentions has been the performance of the 2nd-6th graders this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday they presented Straight Outa the Toy Box for the rest of the school and parents. Children who had never danced before, much less perform, showed up to give a performance that touched all of us. They demonstrated flexibility as they integrated newly arrived dancers into the performance, replacing students who were only in attendance last week. Their faces, as they danced, expressed courage, enjoyment, pride, and confidence. In true Seed fashion, they wrote reflections of their experience. Here are a couple of their comments:
“I have never really thought of dance as hard work, but now I know just how hard it is. I learned a BUNCH of moves…My favorite part was seeing the whole thing come together.”
“How I felt about dance before is very confident, and now, if encouraged, to keep on dancing…I was surprised to learned almost everything. I was surprised that I did the dance…performing felt awesome.”
Working together to create the performance was enjoyable for the students and their teachers. As audience members, that joy was passed on to us. This happens when what we do is in alignment with what we love and believe is important.