Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Fun!

By Chris Olson, Outreach Coordinator

I have to admit that fall may be my favorite season, but I really, really, really love summer as well. This is going to be my first summer in four years not working at summer bible camp. I already miss it. The campfires, the starry nights, the screaming kids; they all came together to make for a splendid three months. My last summer there I worked as the Sustainability Coordinator and did my best to incorporate nature into the regular bible study curriculum as best I could. I enjoyed it very much and I feel like the kids gained much while looking at the Bible and God from the view of caring for creation, a view they don't often see.

I may not be at camp this year but I can offer a number of resources and activities to connect kids with nature and creation care this summer. Earth Ministry has a number of pages on its website specifically for Children and Youth (click the link or click on the picture to go to the main page) that offer books, videos, educational materials, and games to engage youth in learning about and caring for the environment. I developed some of the activities last fall and I'd like to share a couple of them with you in this post.

Icebergs and Polar Bears

Have all the kids line up on one side of the gym. Spaced out around the other side of the gym should be numerous gymnastics mats (the kind that are rectangular and about 6 ft X 10 ft or anything similar). The kids are polar bears and the mats are icebergs. Whenever the game leader says "Go" the kids have to run to stand on the icebergs. For the first round there should be enough mats so that every kid will be standing in a group on one of the mats (meaning no one is “out”). Instruct the kids to go back to the starting line and the leader announces that the global temperature has increased by X-degrees or that the carbon dioxide has reached X-parts per million (whatever is most appropriate for the age group/ties in with the overall activity) and folds over or removes one of the icebergs because it “melted.” After saying "Go", the kids race over and will either be more cramped on the remaining icebergs or some may not be able to fit on at all and they are out. This continues until the temperature gets so hot that there are only a few icebergs and a few polar bears left or until there are none left at all. This can then be tied in with global climate change and how we as humans are changing things for the animals and for the world. We must care for all the children of all species for all time.

Fair Ball

Tell the campers to form a large circle (whatever is appropriate for the size of the group). Scatter a bunch of balls in the middle of the circle. Explain to campers that they are going to race to gather as many balls as possible. Before starting the game, form the campers into three groups. One group can run to get the balls, the second group can only crawl and the third group must wiggle on their stomachs across the floor to gather the balls. All groups must move their assigned ways for the entire game and all must bring their balls back to their group’s headquarters (where ever the game leader points that out to be). Clearly, this game is unfair. By the time the campers who are only allowed to wiggle reach the balls, there probably won’t be any left, while the campers allowed to run probably will have most of the balls. Replay the game a few times, giving each camper a chance to run, crawl, or wiggle. Once finished, discuss what happened in the activity. Talk about personal feelings, fairness, and the fun factor. Make a connection between the activity and the world’s limited resources that we all must share. Discuss the need for an equitable distribution on the world’s resources to all people instead of to only a small percentage of the world’s population. Make a special note of how the world’s resources will be affected by climate change and how that change will disproportional hurt the people in the world who are “wiggling and crawling”, making it even harder for them to gather the resources they need to survive. Ask what can we do to help bring about greater fairness/justice in our world? This is a good activity to work Micah 6:8 into.

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