This week I’ve found myself up to my neck in quicksand, trudging knee-deep through murky mires, and stumbling headlong into pits swarming with spiders, snakes, and piranhas.
It’s all been part of the Safari Story Camp I’ve been leading this week in Yong-in, South Korea, as sponsored by the Creative Writing for Children Society (CWC).
My teaching partner, Kallie George (or, as we like to call her during this camp, Dr. Kallie Bones), and I have had an interesting time of it. One of the activities I had dreamed up back in Vancouver involved eggs. See, I had this idea that the students could write a story in which their safari crew stumbled upon a valley with great clusters of strange eggs, the like of which nobody had ever before seen. Then suddenly the eggs hatch and out pops . . . well, that part would be up to the students. But before they wrote their stories, I wanted them to decorate and dye actual eggs to help get those inspirational juices flowing. It would be a little bit like Easter in July.
But who knew that the logistics of such a simple idea would be so difficult?
In my neighbourhood back home I can walk across the street and buy eggs and good old-fashioned food colouring in about thirty-five seconds. But it turns out they only have brown eggs in Korea and food dye is more or less a rumour. Now brown eggs are harder to colour, but they still work. So that was no big deal. But we had to mobilize a small army of parents to hit every store in a twenty-five kilometer radius just to find food colouring. End result? We ended up with green, yellow, and a red that really didn’t quite work for some reason.
However, after much mixing, stirring, and experimenting, we pulled the whole thing off. (Note to self: next time, just bring the $1.99 food colouring from Canada.)
The other activity that we did today with great success was the design of strange new instruments. I thought it would be fun if the students wrote a story about their safari crew discovering a village of some musical tribe who coaxed sounds from strange instruments. Once again, I wanted them to first gain inspiration by actually designing and constructing the instruments.
For this activity, we were ultra-prepared. We had brought an entire bag of . . . well, let’s just say “junk” from Vancouver, along with our trusty glue guns. We arranged the students into teams and then off to work they went.
I have to say, the instruments they designed were AMAZING. Best of all, most of them actually functioned, producing a wide range of sounds!
Well, one of our philosophies at these camps is to work alongside the kids so that they can see the type of attention we put into our own projects. So through all of the zany activities this week, I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of writing and drawing myself.
Not all of my work these past few days has been related to Kendra Kandlestar. You can see in this snapshot of my work station, I’ve been inspired by the safari theme. I think I will take these sketches back home with me and work on a colour version. It all just depends if I survive the safari . . .