Museum Musings

Lessons from a Five-Year-Old

Children can teach you a lot about life.

This is something I’ve often heard, but it wasn’t until recently that I witnessed first-hand the truth of this statement.

Two weeks ago, I was given the task of going to Fernbank’s Summer Camp, in order to get some ideas for possible blog posts. I was excited for the opportunity to hang out with the kids and experience the Museum from their point of view. I arrived at camp prepared to face the random questions and non-stop energy that typically accompanies 20 rowdy five-year-olds.Camp Trail.JPG

I was scheduled to join the campers as they were taking a Nature Walk. I had never been on a walk, so I stopped to ask a member of the staff how I should go about finding my group. He smiled, pointed me towards the entrance and said, “Just follow the trail. I’m sure you’ll hear them before you see them.”

He couldn’t have been more correct. Within minutes of passing through the gate, my ears picked up on the symphony of tiny voices that were waiting for me around the corner. I approached my group of fellow campers, and before introductions were even made, I had a new friend at my side. She grasped my hand, stated her name, and began her interrogation. I was asked if I liked boys, how old I was and why I was there. When she was satisfied with my answers, she smiled and began telling me about herself in return.

As we continued on our Nature Walk, the other children soon realized there was a newcomer in their presence. Knowing that I had arrived late, they each took it upon themselves to catch me up on all that I’d missed. They told me about what they had done earlier in the day, and all of the things they had learned on the Nature Walk prior to my arrival.

Camp Leaf.JPGThe kids spent the remainder of the day learning about the natural world through various games and activities. Each new activity was met with genuine excitement from the gaggle of small children. It wasn’t until blood-sugars dropped and lunchtime approached that their enthusiasm declined.

As I sat with the kids at lunch, I began to re-evaluate my initial belief about the behavior of five-year-olds. The day had gone exactly as I had predicted. The barrage of questions from the campers was never ending, their attention spans didn’t lengthen, and their energy levels never declined.

Yet, I found myself realizing something had occurred that I didn’t expect. I had learned a lot from these kids in the short time that I had been with them. The children at summer camp questioned everything, because they had a never-ending desire to learn. They wanted answers to the things they didn’t understand. I then compared myself to these kids. At 22, I still ask questions and wish to learn new things, but not nearly as often or as passionately as my fellow campers.

It took a group of brilliant five-year-olds to knock some sense into me. Since camp, I’ve decided to approach life more like my young comrades. They welcomed me warmly, trusted me as a friend, and reminded me that imagination and learning do not end with youth.

—Sam Marks, Communications and Marketing Intern

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:26