I just figured I was already in the kid business. Might as well make it official!
Having my own boys changed me a lot. Having children changed everything in fact.
There was a time when we were young professionals. My Mom called us "DINKS," (double income no kids). She said it with love, but also enjoyed poking fun at us until she realized having kids isn't as immediate for everyone these days, and for a variety of reasons. When we were finally assured that our first baby was on the way, we blew up the outside world :)
Jobs changed, we moved from Denver to Glenwood Springs, we started going to IKEA... a lot. Little did we know that these changes were our first foray into the kid business. I soon realized I needed to teach because I wanted to know more about kids. That I might learn something along with them. That I might be more ready for my own because of the time observing yours :)
Years before, I had been working on a Master's in Education, but business had been there too, praising me and telling me I could rule the world. Much to the chagrin of a couple of wonderful professors and to my advisors in college, I had left my first love, choosing not to teach but to move to Denver with Davey Tree Company. We took the chance and the rest is history.
These days I see the old thread binding itself back in with the new. We are beleaguered but savvy parents. I've been Teaching for 7 years, much of that time spent with students and colleagues on amazing field studies and trips that I designed and executed myself. Ideas grew and flourished becoming great and memorable shared experiences. Baja California with the 8th Grade, The Grand Canyon with 40-plus Middle Schoolers, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the National Lab with some of the most amazing and generous Scientists you could ever meet, The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park. We went everywhere, man.
I saw bright lights turn on in myself and others. Kids were stoked. They still are. So am I.
Two Rivers Community School allowed me a ton of leeway and freedom in all of this. We connected learning and State Standards to exciting field work and made great things happen for everyone involved. It was amazing. I went above and beyond, and for years it never felt like work... wait a minute, yes it did. I gave every ounce of myself. Brooke got pretty put out with me...yeah, more than a few times... Teachers work HARD, kids demand a lot, and often there is a major over-correction during breaks. But the passion we all felt is what most remains.
And now, the new incarnation. The Mountain School. Child Care Professional. Summer Camp. Trail Mix. Dora the Explorer bus. The Yurt... we should name here too.
I had a good idea. This is a needed service. Parents work, and kids need to get out and share in meaningful ways. This staves off regression in the academic sense but mostly it builds community, and creates reprieve from the busy, technology-driven world we live in. We've done a good, safe job of creating space in wild places for kids to be themselves and to grow in confidence, leadership, teamwork, and looking closely at the natural world around them.
I am here to bear witness to the amazing differences I've seen in kids who ride hard and fast for an hour before sitting down to discuss the 5 Kingdoms of Life. I have seen young kids pull off amazing estimations of a giant pile of fir cones before learning about fractions and percentages connected to those "manipulatives." I've seen kids come up with and argue about where to put the trail camera and why. I've seen kids who were completely scared of rock climbing (which turns out to be, in my opinion, very safe and manageable compared to other activities) pull off one toprope-belayed pitch and come down to reveal more about themselves and their background knowledge than they did in the previous 2 months. I had a great Dad tell me, "Just take him to the ragged edge of exhaustion, and then he can settle in and show you who he is." He was absolutely right. I have seen kids pull a beautiful Rainbow Trout out of crystal clear water. That perfect moment absolutely translates into actionable love for our watersheds, and the teacher in me always accesses their prefrontal cortexes at times like these. Kids will listen to lessons on turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and ratios of beneficial macroivertebrates.
Andrew Hays has a solid photo collection of kids who fell asleep on the bus on the way back from Marble or wherever we'd been that day. And we were thrilled to share them with parents. To me, nothing demonstrates a job well done more than this. The 12-year-old with bursting energy and tons of sass mouth who rode at Prince Creek and then argued for a minute about who got the most air before conking out and slumping over in his seat. Priceless.
So I'm in the Kid Business. I'm a childcare professional. One of my buddies recently called me Mr. Mom and it didn't bother me one bit.
Stay stoked, y'all!