The Benefits of Unstructured TimeJuly 27, 2013
When I was a camper my favorite time of day was always Free Play. Free Play at Kenwood & Evergreen is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the least structured time of the day, and campers are free to go almost anywhere that they’d like on campus. During this time our specialty counselors open up their areas to anyone who is interested, so campers can use the batting cage, get a tennis lesson, work on a film project, try their hand at archery, paint a pot in ceramics, or just about anything else that we offer here. Free Play is also a time when campers are able to choose to do nothing, and they often revel in this glorious hour-long period of nothing. I thought that this blog I would try to capture some of the great moments that I saw during tonight’s Free Play (and highlight some of the benefits of unstructured time at Camp).
The Kenwood Freshmen & Sophomore Compound is always hopping during Free Play. Tonight campers were using the time to play ping pong, tetherball, magic cards, roofball, rafter ball, and this crazy game that Jacki & Bob brought to Camp last summer called “Can Jam”. Essentially, two teams of campers throw a frisbee back and forth and try to get it into a plastic cylinder with two different openings. EVERY free moment of the day this game is being played, and during Free Play there is a constant rotation of two campers and two counselors having a blast at this game. There were also campers having a goofy time on both the Kenwood & Evergreen swing sets.
There were also boys and girls on all 11 of our tennis courts. Some were getting private lessons from Fernando and his Tennis Team, while others were just playing a friendly game together. It’s fun to sit back and watch who has improved their tennis skills over the last four weeks of the summer!
There were two different bands jamming tonight. In the music building two Evergreen campers got a lesson from a counselor while they worked on their band’s sound for Hollowpallooza. Our 12th annual music festival is just one week away, and there are groups practicing almost every waking minute of the day. In the theater tent a larger ensemble of Kenwood campers was also practicing. These guys formed a band last summer, and they are excited about performing for a second time in front of the whole Camp. Last year they were the opening act of the entire festival!
One of the aspects that I most love about Free Play is that it gives our boys and girls of different ages a chance to spend a little time together as friends. Take a look at these two pictures. As you can see tonight in the Gaga pit and on the Volleyball Court by the Gym we had campers of every age and both genders playing together and having a wonderful time. I love that our older campers do such a great job acting as role models for our younger kids, and how much fun they all have together. There simply aren’t many chances for older and younger kids to play together appropriately in modern life, but at Camp this is something we all look forward to each and every day!
Not all of Free Play is active. There are many campers who love using their free time to sit quietly and relax. The Hollow, our soccer field in the center of campus, is usually the spot campers choose to catch up with a friend or have some quality time with a favorite counselor.
Free Play is also when many of our traveling teams have their tryouts. Tonight up on Senior Hill it was the Kenwood & Evergreen U15’s Ultimate Frisbee teams. They spent the hour sprinting, leaping, diving and showing how well they can pass the disc. From the looks of the tryouts it appears that we may have two very good teams for this year!
Free Play is a crucial part of our day here at Camp. In such a programmed world in which we all live. We love giving our campers the opportunity to manage their own time, pursue their own passions, or just connect further with another member of our community!