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I love to play

Muni's picture

Over the summer, I worked at a summer camp in Point Reyes National Seashore, a few hours North of San Francisco. It was my second year working at this camp, although I’d been a camper for around six or seven years. Point Reyes Summer Camp is a nature science camp, so the campers do a lot of learning about local plants, wildlife, and natural processes. We often integrate this learning into games and activities, and the kids (aged 9-12) seem to really retain the information they learn in that way. 

In Hensig’s essay, she said that it hasn’t been proven that play is a learning mechanism, with the example of the play-fighting strategies being different from those implored in a real fight later in an animal’s life. It’s a little different for humans, though. I think that learning through play is something that we have become really good at. Children learn social skills early on from playing “house,” and learn how to work in teams in sports like soccer and basketball. I played games in classes even through high school to help solidify concepts and deepen understanding. In planning camp activities, I try and fit in as many games as possible to keep the campers engaged and having fun, but also paying attention to what can be learned from the world around them. There are also games that we play that have no intended learning behind them. We play for fun! It’s fun to laugh and run with other people, and it makes sitting still later a whole lot easier. In my experience, play serves as an equalizer for kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD, as well. When everyone’s running around, each camper has the opportunity to focus their energy on a particularly exciting game. One thing that I think Hensig should’ve mentioned is that play is good for adults, too. I benefit from playing with people half my age, and in my opinion, everyone should play as much as they can.