Thursday, February 7, 2013

Part II: Books in the Woods

One of my best experiences with kids reading was when I worked at a wilderness camp. It was an experiential learning program for kids that usually chose between juvenile jail and wilderness camp. The library we had there was a 20' x 20' room (if that huge). There were slim pickings when it came to books.

At this camp, kids were there to work on goals, and to get away from their everyday problems. There were no electoronics. In that day it meant no walkmans and hand-held games. Today it would be even more of a hardship for youth who have iphones, ipods, itouch, and idon'tknowwhatelse. It was a group therapy model. Thus, if one youth was having an issue, we would do what was called "huddling-up" and procede to have a group therapy session that could last from a minute, to hours, to the whole night.

It was times like these that drove kids to reading books. I witnessed teenagers who never read a whole book before begging for any stolen second to read the book. They would wake-up, urinate, get dressed and have a book in their hand. They would carry 1-2 books with them at any given time. During one long huddle, I remember a kid reading a whole book, and stating, "I am done." He put it in his backpack and then grabbed another book out of his sweatshirt to begin.

I vividly remember one group called Mahetus that all but one member were book worms.
We would walk from chuckwagon (dining hall) to their campsite in a single-file line. One group member would lead-out pushing the wheelbarrow and the rest of the boys would follow behind with their noses buried in their books. The lead kid was about 12 years old and was not a great reader. At times he would take the wheelbarrow and walk zig-zag and the group would follow their noses still buried in their book. He would begin to giggle, and a couple of the more senior kids would yell at him, and he would straighten out.

I wish I had a picture of this because it was a wonderful site.

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