Vol. 17, no. 3
May -- August, 2005
Last summer my mother got four other mothers together to hire a teacher for summer vacation. The teacher took us girls on all sorts of outdoor adventures during the week while our mothers worked. We are trying to come up with a new plan for this summer. Any ideas?
Do you all have pretty good bikes, or have access to one? There is a Superhero Movement afoot which has young people very excited. The idea of the Superhero Movement is for a group to go on bike trips and help people along the way.
It helps if Superheroes take on an identity to convey the purpose of their agenda as they ride into a village or small town. The group might make themselves costumes based on the mighty superman saga. Or, the group might dress up as a team of industrious ants, magicians or characters from fairyland. For leadership, one or two people who have been on a Superhero ride would serve best.
Superheroes ride through the countryside, developing close friendships with one another. The main purpose of their ride is to be of service to whoever is in need of help. While helping others, invariably the riders discover that their hearts are filled with the power of love. Givers and receivers are constantly struck by how unexpectedly great and wonderful people are. Wherever they go, riders are treated with loving response. Those who are receiving most welcomed and unexpected assistance eagerly offer to share their meals and floor space for riders to spread out their sleeping bags.
Ethan Hughes, the originator of the Superhero Movement, initiated starting each morning with Superheroes taking turns with "Readings of the World's Great." Breakfast often consists of bulk organic oats with whatever toppings are available. Riders open all their meals to anyone who may want to join them. All day Superheroes encourage each other to grow and be open to ever greater possibilities. Before falling asleep in the evening, the riders join in a sharing circle and expressions of gratitude for the gifts the day brought.
I can imagine each of the girls in your group learning one or more activities like beading, macrame, netting, knitting or face painting. Take a container for each activity you will need along the way.
In every village or town you are apt to meet eager learners of your skills in public parks or community centers. From you they have a chance to experience that people are all potential friends and that hurts can be overcome.
Taking such Superhero trips may introduce you to learning to accept the new, the unexpected; you may want to keep a journal and record memorable events of the trip. Send stories of your adventures to Skipping Stones!
Send your questions or comments to:
The Broken Leg: A True Story
I've always wondered what it's like to break a bone. It really happened to me, one week before summer break!
My older brother and I were late coming home from the mall on our bikes one night. "I'll beat you home!" I announced. Glen flew in front of me and I pedaled as fast as I could to keep up.
We took a favorite path that had a small hill. I was coming down the hill so fast that my pedals were going by themselves and I couldn't control them.
My heart began to pound. I reached for my brakes, pressing hard, but they didn't work. As I looked at my out-of-control bike...for a moment it seemed to have a third wheel...oh, no! It was my brother's bike wheel!
"STOP! My brakes are broken!! HELP!!!" CRASH! I flipped twice in the air and landed hard on the ground.
I was in agony, lying there in the parking lot. Luckily some strangers came over to help. I had to trust them. They picked me up and drove me home.
When my mom saw the GIGANTIC, HUMONGOUS bump on my leg, she rushed me to the hospital. The funny thing was, my doctor was my soccer coach! He said, "So, Laura, we meet again."
An odd looking object called a "splint" was put on my leg. It's a soft bandage that gets hard after awhile. It itched! It hurt! It gave me headaches. After a week it was taken off.
Next a cast was put on my whole leg. I couldn't play. I couldn't see my friends. Summer had arrived and it all made me very sad.
I sat with a cast on my whole leg most of the summer. But I learned a few things from my experience. I learned how to deal with pain, I learned that sometimes you have to trust strangers, and I learned that it takes patience to heal a bone.
-- Laura Lee Obear, 9,
From the Editor
This Winter and Spring has been full of shifting weather patterns, surprises and unexpected challenges in many parts of the world. First, there were several major hurricanes in the Caribbean. Then on 26 Dec., a devastating tsunami struck the coastal regions of ten countries in the Indian Ocean. Then big floods in the Southwest where they don't get much rain, and a drought in the Pacific Northwest. For a couple of months, the normally cold regions reported warm temperatures and sunshine.
The tsunami was especially shocking news that hit the world. But as difficult as this natural disaster was, the human response to it showed that people do care for each other. Media images of the magnitude of the tragedy triggered an outpouring of response from all over. The international relief efforts for such a large scale disaster have certainly been worthy of praise. In our community, there were at least four public benefit events to raise money. The latest one on 25 March netted over $20,000 for M. A. Math, a charitable, all-volunteer organization in India, to help build homes for families who lost homes in coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka.
Skipping Stones is looking into ways to donate books and other educational material for schools and libraries in the recent earthquake and tsunami-affected regions. If you know of needy institutions, please contact us.
Are you an "unschooler" or a homeschooler? Did you know that homeschoolers have a lot more flexibility in what, how and when they choose to learn? Naturally, they learn mostly what they are drawn to, and when they feel ready to tackle it. Many educators and parents think this kind of freedom allows for greater learning and understanding as the learners don't feel pressured into doing something that they are not "into." Do you lie a structured learning environment or an open one?
School vacations are essentially times for open or unstructured learning as we all learn from our life experiences. I personally know several students who learn a great deal on their own during winter and spring breaks. For example, when the tsunami story was in the news everyday, they took on the task of discovering and understanding all the geological and geographical facts about our world. They looked at questions such as:
How can an earthquake in one place trigger destruction thousands of miles away? Why was the impact of the tsunami most potent along coastal areas? Why were many elephants able to sense the impending "big" waves, and then not only survive but help others escape death from the powerful waves?
This summer when school is out, you might want to take advantage of your free time to learn about what you're really interested in. Depending on your interests, you might ask yourself:
Find out why there is much activity where two ecosystems meet. Follow the progress of specific communities being rebuilt after the tsunami. Compare the progress to other rebuilding efforts after a major natural disaster-earthquake, tornado or hurricane-in a region. Study refugee resettlement issues after recent wars in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, the Middle East, Rwanda, Serbia, or Sudan. Learn about whatever intrigues you!
Want Ideas for Summer Projects?
On May 7, countless youth and adults across the country will come together for the annual Join Hands Day. This is a day of volunteering that builds relationships and increases respect between generations as they work together on local projects to improve their communities. To create such partnerships, adult groups invite youth organizations and youth groups invite adult organizations. They work together on worthwhile projects, and people from both generations have equal responsibility. Visit www.joinhandsday.org, or call 1-877-OUR-1DAY for details.
Nisse's Dream, a family musical written by Paul Safar and Nancy Wood, will be presented this summer by the nonprofit Cherry Blossom Musical Arts of Eugene, Oregon. Based on a Swedish fairy tale, it is the story of a youth who makes a heroic journey to the land of trolls to rescue his family's cow. Both adults and children will work together this summer for this play set for August 11-21. Visit: www.cblossom.org.
Many youth across the nation will work at community gardens and farms to learn skills of producing fresh vegetables and fruits. They will also learn about food preparation and nutrition. Start a community garden with your parents, teachers and friends, if none exists in your town.
The 2005 Skipping Stones Honor Awards
A good book opens the world to us, and can fundamentally change our perspective. Through reading, we explore other cultures, learn new languages, and appreciate the natural world. We can learn to avoid stereotypes and biases and find positive role models from both genders and communities of color.
The 2005 Skipping Stones Honor Award winners promote cooperation, peacemaking, environmental protection, and offer compelling learning experiences for parents, teachers, and children. Our thanks to all the educators, students, parents, and interns who helped us select the winners from an awesome array of wonderful books and films.
Check out these outstanding books this summer and fall. Happy Reading!
Skipping Stones Magazine