It’s amazing how much kids open up when given the opportunity to express themselves. Our summer camp was jam-packed with an awesome curriculum called “Homes Around the World” in which the kids learned about – you guessed it – homes around the world! They got the chance to build the “3 Little Pigs” houses, construct dream houses out of cardboard, create and decorate their own stools, digitally design the interior of a house, and paint signs to hang in their own homes.
While all of these activities were great, not every student discovered an avenue to express themselves with each one. Some older students were great at building houses but the activity went over the little ones’ heads. In contrast, the little ones LOVED decorating stools (mostly because of the glue guns) but the older kids were much more into the interior design project. And there was at least one camper in every activity that we had to pull teeth to get them to participate, no matter how fun the project!
Then one day, we had an impromptu dance party. A random “runway show” was written into the curriculum so that students could show of the stools they had created. Our site director rented lights from the library and blacked out the windows so the kids felt like they were at a real runway show, and they loved it! Once all the stools had been shown, our runway show turned into an all-out dance party. What’s crazy to me is that every single kid danced. Every one! Stubborn, shy, cynical, you name it – every kid busted a move on that dance floor.
To me that was incredibly inspiring. It didn’t matter if they fit the “dancer” mold, if they looked silly, or if they danced to a song nobody else liked. It didn’t matter if they were 6 or 14, tall or short, girl or boy. After a long summer of teaching lessons to these kids, I made sure to take a lesson away from them this day: not every situation makes you feel like you can express yourself, but when you get the opportunity to do so, do it! Always.