Here at Bucklin Park, the children we see all the time define our play space: setting the tone for how other children engage with us and the space. As the other children are more transient they come to the park from camp groups. Some of these camp groups include, Tae kwon do, local rec centers, daycares, and even our neighborhood library academic camp. Most of these kids look to our park regulars for cues on how to engage with us, our materials, and everything the park has to offer.
One of our most adored park regulars is a young girl. She comes to Bucklin with her mom and four younger siblings. She is a natural leader and is always tells us what materials to bring out each day for everyone to play with. When her and her family miss one day at the park, all of Bucklin notices! When the kids from the basketball court stop by for water, they ask, “Where is everyone?”. Lunch staff says, “We were expecting her and co., they would have loved the toy we gave for lunch today!”.
The kids from camps look to her and her family for how to behave. If she says, “be good to the ants!”, then everyone acts super careful. When she screams, “Let’s get messy!”, and digs her hands into the mix of cornstarch and shaving cream, better believe the other kids are animatedly doing the same!
Because of this, I have to say working at Bucklin this summer has been tremendously rewarding and just a great time! Our park truly comes alive thanks to our returning families. Campers and neighborhood kids alike, want to help clean up at the end of the day, they want to decorate the trees and the playground for tomorrow, and take their creations home to show their families.
Today, after a hot day playing with the mini pools, my staff and I had to dump, dry, and put it into storage. The little girl, our amazing ring leader, said, “Wait! Let me have the rest of that so I can water the grass.”, and all of the other kids around her promptly joined in! The kids joke with us that there is one spot on the field that looks like a “bald man's head” because there is only grass on the Perimeter and not the center. Heart-warming. The last thing we did today was to decorate our favorite tree near the basketball court with her, her family and some of the other park regulars. To show everyone that this is our park and remind them that, when we leave, “Kids play here!”.