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By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

Yesterday was the first day of our first Tinkering Camp. After months of discussion, weeks of organizing, and days of gathering materials, we were ready to build something HUGE. By 9am our materials and tools were in place, our canteen was stocked, and our “mist tent” was spewing water. Campers began to arrive. No one knew exactly what to expect, but everyone was excited.

Mr. Letersky called in the troops and unveiled our challenge: using any of the new building materials or remnants in the “ boneyard” each team must: (1) raise a team flag; and (2) build a vehicle, piloted, ridden in or propelled by all team members down the steep field slope, and (3) build a “challenge” through which all teams (including your own!) must pass in order to reach the finish line.

A mad dash for materials. And then Work started. Some teams sketched, some held meetings, some just built. Some divided up tasks, some stuck together for every part of a project. But, as the morning progressed, every Tinkerer and every Team seemed to find his, her and its own rhythm.

By noon, we had 3 flags well on their way, one flag stand complete, and skeletons of vehicles emerging.   One team had found time to build an awesome, working catapult—just because they could. We took a break by the canteen to review what was working well, what could work better, and where we were headed. Then we launched a watermelon off the roof.

Learning continued. Screws are hot after you drill them. Glue doesn’t dry if you cover it with duct tape. The chop saw is efficient, can be used safely, and is really cool. Sometimes it helps to take a break, swing on the swings, and think things through. A hacksaw cuts PVC pipe most efficiently if you put a kid on either side to pull it back and forth. Bikes can be taken apart, re-assembled—and are more fun fastened together. Teams work best if everyone takes time to listen to each other and suss out best ideas.

As the day wound down, we cleaned up, learned how to charge our drills for tomorrow, and came together to reflect on our progress today and our path for tomorrow. Turns out, upon further reflection, not every team needs the 10 tires they grabbed at the start. But we do need some green spray paint and a few more PVC couplings. Everyone had a favorite tool and reviewed where they hope to go tomorrow. And as we left, a flag—emblazoned by hand with a gear, a saw, and a hammer-turned-axe—snapped proudly over Camp Tinker, and a triplicate bike stood ready for new adventures tomorrow. Signs of a day well spent.