The following are a few samples of the sort of activities that will engage our campers. 

Hunger Games.Unlike most humans, many animals fight over trash! Vultures, jackals, and other scavengers live off of other animals’ scraps. What would the human world look like if garbage was a prized commodity? In Hunger Games, we help children create tools for just that purpose. After constructing these innovative devices, children form teams and scour the campus for refuse. Whichever team collects the most wins the challenge!
This activity raises both ecological and social questions. For instance, it helps our campers problematize technology, since it is both a helpful tool and a major source of waste. Moreover, our campers may ask about what counts as trash? Does calling something “garbage” or “trash” mean that it doesn’t have value? Is there anything we dispose of that shouldn’t be thrown out? Are we responsible to keep the planet clean?
In addition, it helps our campers ask questions about justice. Should games have winners and losers? Is it important that someone always “wins”? If no one won, how should we decide who gets prizes?

Bigger and Better. A paperclip is a paperclip, right? Maybe not! A paperclip could be a jigsaw puzzle, it could be a giant elastic ball, or it could be a twin set of Indian vases. Inspired by Kyle Macdonald’s successful tradeup of a red paperclip for a house in Saskatchewan over the course of a year, campers–equipped with a paperclip–venture across campus in teams to see what a paperclip can become. The only rule: it must be “bigger” or “better.”

Inspired questions: How do we know that something is “better”? Which group won? Why would someone trade you something better for something worse? Is “better” the same for everyone? Could you trade an idea or thought like a paperclip?

Building a Village. Using a variety of materials (Lego, cardboard, paint, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, etc), campers work together to build a small village. Beginning with their own home and subsequently building “what they think the community needs”, campers are challenged to think about what makes a healthy, functioning, and vibrant community by making, playing, and discussing.

Inspired questions: What does a community need, and why? How do we decide as a group what a community needs? How do we decide where to put things that our community needs? Do communities need jails? Do communities need shopping malls? If we can’t build everything, then how do we know what to build? If we disagree what a community needs, how do we figure out what to do?  

Trashy Music. We all know the sound of silence, but what about the sound of garbage? What kind of music does a tin can make, toilet paper rolls and elastic bands, or old computer parts? Armed with various trash, imagination, and a keen sense of a rockin’ tune, campers are challenged to work together to build instruments, and then play them.

Inspired questions: Is this still garbage, or did we turn it into something different? Could everything be made out of garbage? If you can use garbage to build something, is it really garbage? What is garbage? What is the difference between music and noise? If I bang on a pot with a stick, am I making music? If I throw out my milk jug, am I throwing out an instrument?