Friday, June 17, 2016

Our Ice Cream Social

Our summer program tradition is to make vanilla ice cream in plastic bags on the final day of each of our two-week sessions. You can find more precise recipes around the internet, but you essentially mix half-n-half, sugar and vanilla in a small plastic bag, zip it shut, then put it in a larger plastic bag full of ice and rock salt, zip that shut, then squish the whole thing around vigorously for 10 minutes or so.

Sometimes the kids really get into it, sometimes they rely on the adults to shake it up.

It doesn't matter because it's an ice cream social, a perfect way to end our time together. There are always other things to do around the playground while we make ice cream. For instance, we were erupting the paper mache volcano we made last week right there a few feet away, but 25 of the 30 kids chose to instead focus on the making of that ice cream. This is something of which they wanted to be a part. They didn't all shake or squish or punch at it, but they sure wanted to be there as ice cream was created.

This session, a few parent-teachers finished the project, creating actual ice cream, as opposed to the "milk shake" we usually wind up making.

It feels like a celebration, all of us coming together around a common project, a big one, one that results in ice cream. I wrote last week about how one is almost always in "first week" mode during these summer sessions with their ever-changing rosters, but you know, that's how life often is: people coming together for a day or a week or for the duration of a project, making things happen, then dispersing back into the rest of their lives. Our summer sessions are exactly that. We spend a few days feeling things out, figuring out the other kids and the things we can do with them. It took the two full weeks, but by the time we were making ice cream we had accomplished what we had set out to do. For me it was forming a community while for the children it was about finding their place in this community of their own creation.

We celebrated even as some of the children were leaving Woodland Park for the last time. We celebrated because we did what humans are meant to do.

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