Sunday, March 25, 2012

Extracurricular Means Extra Fun

I had a little giggle when I read this week's Blog Cruise question:  What extracurricular activities do your kids enjoy?  To my mind "extracurricular"  means outside the realm of school.  I don't know if all homeschooling moms think like me or just the ones that have to log hours, but I'm forever finding ways to count all our activities as school hours.  I will list a few of the less academic activities my Schnickelfritz enjoys.

Upwards Basketball 

This was Fritz's third season to play basketball (of course we count it as P.E.).   After four weeks of practices they play an 8 game season.  This is a Christian-based organization--each practice has a brief devotion for the teams and there is a gospel message for the fans at half-time of each game.  The best aspect of Upwards is that all players get equal playing time.  My Schnickelfritz doesn't read my posts so I can safely share with you that he's not the best player on the team despite the Indiana blood pumping through his veins.  In a competitive league he would probably be a bench warmer.  It's too bad they don't give out points based on enthusiasm--he cavorts up and down the court though he rarely touches the ball.  I've seen other players with physical handicaps like a degenerative spine.  The boy often lost the ball as he dribbled because he couldn't bend over, but he was never harassed when it happened and the other players always made sure he got another chance with the ball.    Each team assigns colored wrist bands to each player (I don't think the boys ever picked up on the fact that this is done based on ability) and you are only allowed to guard the player with the same color.  This way the best players are matched against one another.   The Upwards organization also offers soccer and flag football for Kindergartners through sixth graders.  You can find a league near you at the Upwards website.

Orienteering

If you're looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy together I whole-heartedly recommend orienteering.  Consider it part cross-country, part geography lesson, and part Easter egg hunt.  We take part in the monthly events of the St. Louis Orienteering Club--in the summer the meets are usually at county parks and they move to the larger state parks when the vegetation dies down in the fall and winter.   You begin each race with a map...



The center point of each circle marks the spot you will find an orange and white "control" flag. When you arrive at a specific area a clue sheet will help you hone in on your target.  The controls are all numbered and it's important to make sure you've got the right control as they are often several courses of varying difficulty being run at the same time.  At this particular event we were running neck and neck with three boys after control #8.  One of the boys shouted he knew where the last control was because he'd seen it before the race began and they headed towards the river--but that control was for the white course.  Fritz and I snuck over to control #9 and were headed to the finish line when we passed the boys headed to opposite direction after realizing their error.

 Attached to each control is either a paper punch or an electronic device that will record your find on a "dibber" you wear on your thumb.  Competitions can take two formats--in the example above you needed to follow a specific course and find the controls in order.  The fastest time wins (we placed second in this race).  In O-meets the controls are scattered in every direction and you are given a time limit to find as many as possible.  Controls that are well hidden or further away may be worth more points.  If you exceed the time limit points will be deducted.  Highest points wins. 

This is really a thinking sport--reading the topographic lines one the map, plotting a course, etc.  Will the straightest path be fastest or will the steep terrain slow us down?  And you don't have to run it like a race.  This Meramec State park meet was a particularly gorgeous October day and there were several families with kids on dad's shoulders just hiking along the course.  You can look for a club in your area at Orienteering USA.

Royal Rangers


Fritz earning his Gold Trail Award
 I always wanted Fritz to be involved in a scouting program and found Royal Rangers accepts boys in kindergarten.  He's learning all the typical scouting things like using tools, fire safety and camping but the program also has a Christian aspect.  According to the national website "Royal Rangers is a mentoring program for future men.  We provide Christlike character formation and servant leadership development for boys and young men in a highly relational and fun environment.  Our mission is to evangelize, equip, and empower the next generation of Christlike men and lifelong servant leaders.For advancement Fritz must earn two Bible merits (each based on a single book of the Bible) for every skill merit. 

I know the cruise topic is extracurricular activities but I can log so much of the merit work as regular school hours.  Fritz created a whole notebook on American presidents that counted as history.  Bird Study and Instect study fit in with our Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  Next year he'll be earning his astronomy and space exploration merits as an extension of our Apologia Astronomy study.

God's timing was perfect,  Fritz turned 9 last November and finally became eligible to go camping and this summer is the big 50th anniversary Camporama--which takes place in our home state, down near Branson.

When Fritz advances to Adventure Rangers, I'm hoping he'll want to participate in a special off-chute of RR called Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship.  Here men and boys practice the skills of our pioneer forefathers--shooting black powder rifles, camping in primitive shelters, etc.  He's already earned several of the necessary merits--First Aid, Compass, Ropecraft, and Toolcraft.  You can find more information about Royal Rangers and Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship at theie national websites.   

We do have several more activities I could mention--karate, chess club, and 4-H.  I suppose we do more than most because I want Fritz to have the opportunity to interact with other kids (there's that whole socialization issue).  If he were away at school all day and then involved in all these things I would say that it's too much, but he and I are home together most of the time.  BE sure to visit the Blog Cruise and see what activities other Homeschool Crew families enjoy.  

1 comment:

Kym Thorpe said...

Upwards is such a neat organization! I wished we'd had one nearby when my biggest boys were younger. So cool that you are having such a good experience with them.

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