AS I WAS SAYING: Play day was more than just fun
But to me, there is nothing as magical in the mind of a young child as those last few days of school. That….I would love to feel again. The rush of that last week when you know that you have two months of uninterrupted sun, swimming and playing with friends just lying ahead. I couldn’t sleep those last few nights.
But while I don’t remember a great deal of school work I did, there was one very important lesson I learned on my favourite day of the school year.
Usually a week before the end of school, we had “Play Day” in my school when everyone was put on a team. There were some 30 teams or so…and each team had one child from each grade. Grade 8s ran the Play Day activities and Grade 7s were the team captains.
I would be so excited every year because there would be BBQ hot dogs and popsicles for EVERYONE. The kindergarten teacher drove a 1970 Mustang (and it was new back then) and she would park it on the asphalt and honk the horn when it was time to change activities. I loved that car for that very reason alone.
When I finally got to be a captain in Grade 7, I wanted nothing more than for my team to really enjoy itself. That year, each team was identified by a country and we were Egypt. I devised a cheer we would use and made sure we all knew each other’s names.
Tug of War, ball toss, water balloon races, whatever the activity…we were a team….win or lose. We encouraged each other, laughed with each other….and I remember how much fun it was to lead a group of children not that much younger than me for a day of fun.
We broke for lunch and ate together, told stories about what we each going to do over the summer… devised strategies for the afternoon sack race, 3 legged sprint and hula hoop challenge. And I loved it.
When the day sadly came to end, we huddled up for the final tallies at an outdoor assembly and I was thrilled when it was announced that Egypt was named the team with the best spirit. That was the icing on the cake for me.
All I had wanted to do all day was make a day that had always been special for me…special for my team. I didn’t know there was a phrase for that back in 1975, but it would have been called “giving back”.
Every year since then, when the end of June rolls around, I think back to those carefree days. I could get nostalgic and say that I miss them. But in reality, I hope I’ve kept them with me. I’ve led a number of teams in various endeavours since then, and I try to use what I remember from Team Egypt.
Regardless of age and experience, if you’re on the team, then you’re a full member of the team. It doesn’t matter if you were a tall leaper in Grade 6….or a little thing in kindergarten who could fit under the chair in the crawling relay… everyone can contribute, and every contribution is vital to team success.
Every team needs to know everyone’s names and abilities otherwise you can’t trust each other when the pressure is on.
And finally….if you’re not having fun…..you won’t have much spirit.
I congratulate all teachers who somehow fooled us into thinking that we were having a “Play Day” to get away from our formal education when in fact, we were getting life training. I wish I could go back just to say thank you.
But, to borrow another current phrase not yet uttered in the mid 1970’s, maybe I was supposed to “pay it forward”.
So to today’s teachers and school volunteers, thank you for all you do. Thanks for allowing all kids to learn in the classroom as well as in the playground. Thanks for giving them the opportunity to lead even if it’s just for one day.
And thanks for celebrating the fact that “spirit” can be an equal accomplishment in team building.
Only a few more sleeps yet kids. Enjoy them. They pass by so very quickly.
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