At the Prince of Wales Summer Camp, we are beginning our summer as educators with curiosity. We are in a new location this summer, at Queen Mary Public School, and we are curious about how our new environment will affect our camp community; how will the children and families use our space, what interactions will they have with our materials, and with each other? How can we shape the identity of our summer camp program, fostering a warm, welcoming, and comfortable environment which provokes exploration and learning, while instilling a sense of belonging among our children and families?
In order to provoke deeper thinking among the children regarding the physical space which we inhabit within the school, we offered them the opportunity to map our environment. They chose to work in groups or individually, and explored every inch of our space to ensure that it was included on their maps. We challenged them to consider not only what physical materials inhabit the space, but to envision what each space could be used for, and how each space made them feel. Which spaces were the most comfortable and inviting, and which encouraged creativity and expression?
We were impressed by how sincerely the children engaged in this activity. While creating their maps the children discussed memories they shared with our furniture and materials, recollections of children and staff from years past, and expressed excitement at the prospect of using our materials in a new space and in new ways. Many of the children offered us suggestions for how to enhance the space, moving furniture or adding materials. They were thoughtful about the purpose of each space, identifying quiet spots for reading and resting, and other larger, open spaces for more exuberant play.
As educators we are excited by the future opportunities this experience presents. We will offer the children maps of our municipal community, looking for familiar landmarks and plotting our excursions throughout the summer. We will offer them ongoing opportunities to map places of importance to them, such as our outdoor environment, Jackson’s Park, and the route to the splash pad.
Bethany Carter, Andy Allen, Alexis Wickins