The thing that I learned first about Hutchison students is that they’re a lot more than just children. They have some almost inexplicable form of hope; a drive to be more than their circumstances. We saw this characteristic every day at Camp Hutchison.
In class, you can see their eyes widen in awe while watching a rocket launching. They shout the countdown in unison, never quite matching it perfectly to the rocket launch, but trying every time nonetheless. During arts and crafts activities, they become involved in every aspect of coloring of flags or mushing of shaving cream with a piece of paper, which yes—one of the activities (making a moon) did involve. When asked to write sentences, though it’s difficult for most of them, they all actively think and take the time to write the most meaningful sentence ending to “I can be a good friend when…” Overall though, they all loved the constellation making activity that involved toothpicks and marshmallows.
The kids don’t give up. In part, that must have been why the first week went so well, not to discredit all the preparation of Floris UMC interns Mason and Lacy. As a camp, we wrote journals prompts like “My favorite science experiment is…” and “I can show respect when…” We read books about space, my personal favorite being anything related to Magic School Bus, and friendship. The kids watched numerous bottle rocket launches and made astronaut pictures of themselves by coloring in a space suit outline, then drawing their faces on the paper plate helmet. At the end of the week they made space scenes of an astronaut and flag being put on the shaving cream moon. My personal favorite was when a kid whose hands were absolute covered in some mix of black and yellow paint thrust his arms in the air while walking through the hallway and declared: “I CAME FROM THE DIRT!” Entirely weird and entirely funny. At one point, a kid in my Squad, Squad 2, was left without a partner for a chalk tracking activity. Upset, he curled up against the black top fence. Seeing his sadness, another kid walked over and shared with him a Pokémon card. They became friends and during the next activity, the first boy felt better and participated whole-heartedly. The week was full of amusing, cute, and heart-warming moments like these.
I’ve never thought I was someone who was good with kids. I went to Camp Hutchison expecting to teach them, and that would be the extent of it. I never suspected that I would get to know them. Never suspected that they would like me. But this first week? It blew my expectations out of the water. I’m looking forward to the rest of Camp, as I’m sure everyone involved is.