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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our first ARGH!

Copied from a post I wrote here right when we came home:

In this case, not the pirate sound, but the name for a semi-annual gathering of autodidactic learners in cabins at Roan Mountain, TN. The kids and I went for the first time this weekend. There were no speakers or much of a schedule and it was so relaxed. On the last night, Jesse declared, emphatically, that we need to go to every ARGH from now on. I think that would be swell. To think, I almost let some torrential rain keep me from making the drive. It was Jesse who convinced me that I must persevere. I like when they persuade me to jump outside of my comfort zone.

One of the highlights was having the blogger/author Patti Digh talk and read to us from her book, Life is a Verb - 37 Days - essays about the question of what she would do differently if she knew that she only had 37 days left to live. I bought the book. It is filled with amazing art and provocative,inspiring ideas. She too grew up a red head, in awe of her library and of Pippi Longstocking. For this, and so many more reasons, I was smitten. Here she is with (the also inspiring) Kelli:Mindy and Gail, just two of the many wise, generous unschooling women that I get so much out of seeing: It's also fun to see the ageless men:and non age-segregating kids (especially the teens):There was henna, beading, knitting, pool, table tennis, nerf gun battles, Bananagrams, Yu Gi Oh, football, In a Pickle, Catch Phrase, a pot luck...Here was the setting, as captured by Gillen on the last morning. He was on his way back to our cabin having generously agreed to venture out and retrieve my camera from another cabin - far, far away - where I had left it the night before. Both of my guys were so generously helpful, and so happy to be on this trip that I feel capable of traveling even further with them alone in the future. I will overcome any fear of fatigue. Argh! I am adventurous woman.

Just look at how humiliatingly foolhardy adventurous I can be. Jesse asked me to jump into the talent show with him at the very last second, and I did, attaching us together first like this - and then leading the patient talent show crowd in "chair yoga". (There's no one more encouraging or patient than an unschooling talent show audience).Thank you Laura and Ren for putting it all together.
Actually, in the picture, they are Ren and Laura. Both tall, beautiful, Converse-wearing , artistic, loving mamas, TN-dwelling and goofy, whatever order you put them in, I think that they are meant to create things together.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
ARGH!
In this case, not the pirate sound, but the name for a semi-annual gathering of autodidactic learners in cabins at Roan Mountain, TN. The kids and I went for the first time this weekend. There were no speakers or much of a schedule and it was so relaxed. On the last night, Jesse declared, emphatically, that we need to go to every ARGH from now on. I think that would be swell. To think, I almost let some torrential rain keep me from making the drive. It was Jesse who convinced me that I must persevere. I like when they persuade me to jump outside of my comfort zone.

One of the highlights was having the blogger/author Patti Digh talk and read to us from her book, Life is a Verb - 37 Days - essays about the question of what she would do differently if she knew that she only had 37 days left to live. I bought the book. It is filled with amazing art and provocative,inspiring ideas. She too grew up a red head, in awe of her library and of Pippi Longstocking. For this, and so many more reasons, I was smitten. Here she is with (the also inspiring) Kelli:Mindy and Gail, just two of the many wise, generous unschooling women that I get so much out of seeing: It's also fun to see the ageless men:and non age-segregating kids (especially the teens):There was henna, beading, knitting, pool, table tennis, nerf gun battles, Bananagrams, Yu Gi Oh, football, In a Pickle, Catch Phrase, a pot luck...Here was the setting, as captured by Gillen on the last morning. He was on his way back to our cabin having generously agreed to venture out and retrieve my camera from another cabin - far, far away - where I had left it the night before. Both of my guys were so generously helpful, and so happy to be on this trip that I feel capable of traveling even further with them alone in the future. I will overcome any fear of fatigue. Argh! I am adventurous woman.

Just look at how humiliatingly foolhardy adventurous I can be. Jesse asked me to jump into the talent show with him at the very last second, and I did, attaching us together first like this - and then leading the patient talent show crowd in "chair yoga". (There's no one more encouraging or patient than an unschooling talent show audience).Thank you Laura and Ren for putting it all together.
Actually, in the picture, they are Ren and Laura. Both tall, beautiful, Converse-wearing , artistic, loving mamas, TN-dwelling and goofy, whatever order you put them in, I think that they are meant to create things together.
Posted by Madeline at 6:36 PM
Labels: trip, unschooling

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

spring 2009 ARGH

the spring ARGH was amazing!! we went to roan mountain again and had the best time! there was a lot of reconnecting with friends and making new connections; kids screaming and running to greet each new arrival...and it brought tears to my eyes seeing how happy they are with this group of people that have become the core of our unschooling world of friends. what did we do all weekend? well, there was a lot of simply hanging out really. that's what is so wonderful about these gatherings, no pressure to attend a lot of activities (unless you want to). it's very laid back and relaxed. sometimes i might find myself in a cabin playing bananagrams with several other people (while trying not to fall asleep). or walking from cabin to cabin bringing snacks to hungry kids. or driving to the conference center to check out what activities were going on over there and talking and laughing and um, well, hanging out. like i said, that is really the essence of this gathering, "just" hanging out!! there were tons of nerf wars going on at almost any given time, movie watching in the old restaurant building, ATC making in ren's cabin, henna at the conference center, video games at the hangout cabin, tea parties, game parties, dress up parties, just about anything if someone was willing to host it. there was also a delicious potluck followed by a fantastic talent show...what more could you ask for??

we went away with a happy feeling after saying our goodbyes just knowing that in 8 short months we would be up there again for the fall gathering to do it all over again!!

Lovin' the ARGH

ARGH!!!!

The Nerf Wars

The teens hanging out...awesomely awesome



Sophie and Livia became friends; Ella and Lexi reconnected


Max and Jesse with their amazing Henna


Broc was the henna hero...who knew?

It's all freehand...pretty impressive!


More henna, more beautiful girls

Friends...

Alec and Alex...I love these guys

We attended our second ARGH gathering and once again it was fabulous. Roan Mountain is beautiful, and the park/cabins are awesome.

As much as we love the natural beauty and setting, we go for the camaraderie and friendship. There is something special about the relaxed nature of ARGH...not a conference, but a little more than just hanging out. There is always something interesting popping up, someones passion shared.
Many people who go, we would not get to see otherwise. But it's also a place to meet up with dear friends who we do get to see more regularly.

My kids are in their element at ARGH. They enjoy not having to explain their lives to friends. They love the freedom this particular setting provides, and the whole group hanging out sort of thing.

We'll be back. Keep it coming..I've already got the next dates in my planner :)


Monday, March 23, 2009

Pigtailed assault teams storm Roan Mountain!



Okay, more of them had dreds than pigtails and the assault guns were loaded with soft foam projectiles, but there were teams, that's for sure! The theme of the weekend, for the under-12 portion of the community: Nerf Wars
I was intrigued to see that the free form shoot-em-up quickly sorted itself into entire nation-states of children. They had grand names (my favorite being The Carrot Allegiance), cultural identities, alliances, feuds, and complex negotiations that lasted for days. At any given intersection of trails it was possible to find two opposing bands of armed Patriots shouting a conversation that might have sounded like this:



"Throw down your weapons, we have you surrounded! "
"You do not! What team are you, anyway? "
“We are the Huggers and you are invading our territory"
“Well, we are the Princess Sisterhood and we do not recognize the validity of your organization"
"Hah! I got you! You're dead now."
“I am not, I have fifty thousand hit points"
“You can't have that many. You can only have five."
“I can have as many as I want !"
And on and on.
Unschooling children are great negotiators. I've seen that before, but we don't live in an area with a plethora of unschoolers, so its not something I'm used to
That's not to say they were all little angels. There were bossy kids and whiny kids and kids who refused to acknowledge anyone else's rules. There were hurt feelings as teams formed and reformed many times over the weekend. For all that, there was little real fighting. Kids raised without rules, it seems, don't have any more trouble getting along than other kids. If anything, while some of the kids had control issues, none were actively mean. Older kids sometimes stepped in to facilitate disputes - Ray did at one point - and parents of younger children sometimes trailed along at a discrete distance in case anyone slipped in the mud and got hurt.
I confess to having spent the first day and a half fretting. I needn't have. I know my family, after all, but arriving at the ARGH gathering, I was the only family member who actually knew anyone at all (from online). I watched George and the kids lurk around the edges of groups and I fretted: surely I'd made a horrible mistake and they'd all be miserable. Silly me.
As soon as Mo settled in, she was happy to rampage through the campground with one nation-state or another, shooter in hand. Ray lurked and scoped and then all of a sudden was walking around with a group, staying up all night, exchanging email addresses. George took the longest. He didn't have alot in common with the other dads, and the kids weren't little enough to give him comfortable access to the world of moms for the most part. Eventually Mo dragged him off to a dress-up party, though, and got him settled. By evening's end he'd discovered bananagrams (have you played? its sooooo fun!) and the next day he discovered hiking trails. The pix are all from his hikes (new camera, I haven't a clue how to use it yet).
I had a fantastic time, once I stopped fretting. I knit and chatted and chatted and knit and hung out and played bananagrams (gotta get me some). I got to meet some of the wonderful people I know from online and see their kids in person. De (Bigwylma) is warm and personable, Faith has great hair and a wonderful smile, Kelly and Gail never stop talking! Kelli is fun and wonderful and has the most adorable curly headed boy (George was a curly headed boy, once, I'm partial), and Ren's every inch a drag queen (work it Ms thang). There were many more people than that, of course and I'm awash in names and faces (and needlework projects...love that purple scarf and its knitter... whatever your name was).
Unschooling teens are all gorgeous. I know I mentioned Kelli's but I was struck by the absolute beauty of all the teenagers. It took me a couple days to figure out why, and I honestly believe its the unschooling. Without school to weigh them down, they have a lightness of spirit that schooled teens just plain don't. Even the quiet ones had that lightness. Even the ones dressed all in black, the freaks and the bad-asses. They weren't up all night knocking over dumpsters, they were up talking and laughing and... cuddling. Yeah, bad ass teenagers cuddling. I'm still reeling.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

ARGH fall 2008

the second ARGH took place in november 2008 in beautiful roan mountain, tennessee. we stayed 3 days in some really amazing cabins with access to a fantastic conference center where we set up tables for funshops, a day of the dead trade, a potluck, and a talent show to name a few of the activities. there was mostly a lot of relaxed hanging out and staying up late talking and bonding with unschoolers from all over! and it was wonderful!

the very first ARGH...fall 2007

the first ARGH took place over 2 days in november 2007 in johnson city, tennessee. day 1 was a meet up at a local park building at night for a potluck and game playing. we learned some new games and met some new friends. day 2 took place at a church hall where we had small funshops of ATC making, video gaming, and mini talks. the kids got into the "talks" by locking themselves in a room and writing on their OWN white board and talking about things they wanted to talk about. it was very cool!! we actually had a 3rd day, but it was more of a quiet get together at ren's house for more games and talking and hanging out. we had just moved back to the area and only known the allens (in person) for a few months but we already felt like family. and i can't think of a better way to have gotten back into the swing of things here in east tennessee than this gathering!!