Collaboration Mondays will frequently involve guest posts, interviews, and work that I develop with other amazing children’s programming professionals. Because today is Launch Day and you don’t know me yet, I am going to interview myself!
Who are you and why do you think you have something to say to people?
Wow, you don’t pull any punches, do you? I am at this point what I call a Children’s Programming Professional. I have worked in many positions to do with children, and I feel confident in just about any setting to do with kids. I am an artist and have run my art business on the side for many years, but recently decided to take the entrepreneurial bull by the horns and do something with all of my knowledge and experience. I direct a day camp in the summers and the rest of the year I develop and run programming for children. I also create art in the form of illustration, photography, and calligraphy for clients on commission or for sale at arts markets.
Confident in just about any setting? What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done with kids?
You’re trying to get me into trouble, aren’t you? I’m a stickler for safety, but that’s because I like doing challenging (read: empowering) things with children. As far as danger goes, I have a hard time choosing between archery, outdoor cooking, mountain climbing, and knife skills. All of them can be horribly dangerous, and sometimes my camp staff look a little terrified at the idea of teaching a 5 year old to cut fruit, but the more practice a child has with self-sufficiency, the more easily they will build increasingly complex skills. I always have my first aid kit ready, just in case.
What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever done with kids?
I ran a Kid Book Club for several years at a library, and the kids kept asking to do a sleepover. As soon as the library was fitted with an emergency alarm system, I was able to get permission to do it. The last meeting of the school year was our sleepover. We watched Because of Winn-Dixie (we read the book to prepare for the sleepover), got popcorn all over the library, and rolled out our sleeping bags in the stacks. My favorite part of the night was reading time after the movie finished. The kids had piled all of the floor cushions and beanbag chairs into a nest and they all settled in side-by-side, intent on their books until I forced them to turn off the lights for bed. Watching them being comfortable with each other, with me, and with the library was the most rewarding experience I had there.
Okay, so what is Watering the Beanstalk about?
The mission of Watering the Beanstalk is to inspire, challenge, and empower people and organizations to develop adventurous, meaningful, and creative children’s programs. My vision is to create a resource and support network for children’s programming professionals so that we are all able to do more for the children we serve.
What does the name mean?
I wanted something that would incorporate the magical, fairy tale, nursery story world of childhood with the concept of growth, discovery, and development. In my work, I aim to prepare children for the biggest challenges in their lives. They may think that it will be difficult to climb to their castle in the clouds, but as soon as they stand within its walls, they’ll find the menacing giant ready to crunch their bones if they can’t think quickly enough. My job is to water their beanstalk so that they have the option of facing life’s biggest challenges head on and with strength and confidence.
How do you feel about starting this blog?
I have a camp to direct, a blog to launch, and an art career to restart. You know, just your typical Monday.
For real, though, I feel very excited. I have enough content in my brain to fill a blog planner for the next year, and friends in children’s programming have asked me questions already that have added to the list (questions get priority over my own plans, as people need answers!). But, this blog is meant to help create a network of professionals working with children, and to provide support and resources for doing the best we can. I’ve already lined up a few guest bloggers and am sketching my first infographic. I feel like this blog is going to take off with all of the momentum that’s behind it.
So, if people ask questions, you intend to respond?
Absolutely! If it is a question that is easily answered in a comment, I’m happy to answer right away. If, however, it requires multiple resources and a thoughtful response, it may as well be a full article that I either post as a collaboration or as a printable or as an easy to use graphic. Crowdsourcing content is the only way I can see for a blog to stay relevant.
I’m excited about so many! Some of my plans include an infographic outlining the licensing process for a day camp in New Hampshire (and eventually every state), seasonal programming features of local, national, and international programs for kids, program planning printables and tutorials, and even some coloring pages and worksheets to go with book club selections or program themes. Again, I want to crowdsource the needs of our vast community, so I encourage anyone to comment with suggestions or wish lists. I’ll do my best to accommodate them all!