Each semester, AmeriCorps’ Project MARS collects ‘Great Stories’ from each of our members—entries where they reflect on their experiences mentoring in the classroom and the progress that they see students making. This month’s story comes from Caroline Sprinkle.
At Shining Rock’s summer camp, we planned on having a blast engaging the kids’ minds, even if school was out. Activities ranged from building rockets to attempting science projects to going to the pool just to play.
We normally had anywhere from 15 to 30 kids who were aged from rising first-graders to rising fifth-graders. The kids had such a fun time and so did the teachers and adults, but we always made sure to instill the school’s values of integrity, respect, compassion, responsibility, wisdom, and leadership in our everyday activities.
During the second week of camp, we decided to go on a field trip to a skating rink. The adults were all a bit worried about the little kids trying to skate with our older kids and the skating rink’s own camp participants.
As soon as we got there, all the kids got on their skates, ready to roll. We immediately got the walkers that kids can hold onto as they’re learning to skate. About seven young kids stayed in the center on a sort of mini rink with cones and walkers to get used to using the skates. I placed myself at the center with all the new skaters, ready to pick them up when they fell or stop them when they were going too fast.
I was surprised when every single one of those kids decided they would rather learn on their own. All of them said, “I got this, Ms. Sprinkle.”
They were falling just about every other minute, but they got right back up again and kept skating. I was certain I was going to have to lead a crying first-grader off the rink to sit down, but all of them persevered in their quest to learn how to skate. They hardly left the rink!
Once I started skating around while keeping my eyes on them, I saw that when one fell, the others helped them up. Then they just kept going! The cycle continued. Emma fell, Josh helped her up. Josh fell and Evan helped him up. We were there for two hours, and the fresh skaters were determined to master those roller skates.
The compassion towards others and leadership in themselves impressed me that whole day. They took the values they had been learning and implemented them in such an unlikely space. I love seeing compassionate students in school turn into caring peers outside of school.