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IMG_8594By: Tricia Schuster, SJA Parent

Breezy, sunny, 70 degrees. Kids running—sprinting—from their cars to their projects & their teammates. Everyone wearing team-color t-shirts and bandanas. Strange bamboo and volcano structures appearing on the field. It is a beautiful day.

Mark calls morning meeting, and we make a plan. Kids head off to add finishing touches, but today the adults have some surprises. They are working fast and furiously and three new challenges—and a brick wall holding up a finish line gate—seem to literally grow up out of the grass. Our challenge course has taken over the entire lacrosse field.

10am obstacle safety check. Mark, our heaviest human, strides up Team Swedish Batman Hello Kitty’s Ninja Warp Wall and it passes. Some kids work on “thank you” signs for the companies that donated the materials that made this week possible. Others start to clean up under their tents and put tools away. We’re all on constant lookout for stray screws.

Spectators have arrived, the vehicles are stretched out across the top of steep hill field, and finally! we get to play. And we do. For about two hours. And even then, we ask to keep playing more—just a few more rides down the hills in our cars, pleeeaaasse. It is like our own most awesome private carnival with all the rides we would have if we could design and build them ourselves. Which, of course, we did.

Then deconstruction. The grown-ups are so impressed by and sentimental about our creations that they start coming up with uses for them. The cars will greet students in front of school when they return in a few short weeks. Some challenges will become carnival games at the back-to-school picnic. The rest we dismantle in record time. Again, we are all on constant lookout for stray screws.

We end our week with reflection and cake. When asked to name one thing they learned or one thing they liked, one Tinkerer reports that he has seen all of the things he used this week around his house. And he had touched a few of the tools before he came to camp, but only when he helped his Dad. Now, he says, “I know I can use them to make my own things too.” And with that, we all start planning for Tinkering Camp 2016.