Capes: Not Just for Kids

There's an inevitability that that arises from handing someone a cape: They immediately want to take it out for a spin. 

We've just completed a week-long crash course in superhero creation at the Native Project's summer camp. At their summer camp, kids involved in the Native Project learn everything from reading to robotics as well as take weekly field trips to learn about tribal culture. In our room, they invent a superhero and create a comic telling the origin story of their character. 

And this year, we challenged kids to put themselves into their superhero's shoes — or rather, their costume. With brightly-colored capes draped over their shoulders, they hunched with intense concentration over the work of personalizing their mask: lightning bolts, cat whiskers, ornate designs — each detail reflecting a piece of their hero's identity and strengths. And as everyone began to put on their costumes, the energy in the room hit a fever pitch.

A few kids couldn't help but dash around the room in pursuit of an imaginary foe. Capes were flung about dramatically as each child posed in front of the green screen for their official superhero portrait. Some of the most blasé students were soon bumping their way to the front of the photo line, sheepishly revising their earlier decision to skip the cape. 

I met up a group of friends after work. As we chatted, the conversation turned to how much fun I'd had seeing some of the kids light up as they created their costume. I remembered then that the capes were still in my car. 

My friend, a fairly serious adult exhausted from a demanding day at work, hadn't had a cape on for more than five minutes when he leapt up and threatened to climb onto the table. "I have the irresistible urge to 'fly' off something!" he announced. (Fear not: We urged him to reconsider.) 

My husband transformed his cape into a rather handsome ascot. We all experimented with the age-old question of how to best wear a cape: Is it over the shoulders, behind the shoulders, or one shoulder on and one off?

Soon, strangers were gathered around, sifting through the box of capes for their signature color. A server waltzed through to deliver meals, bright orange cape flowing behind him. Just like the kids at summer camps, each adult lit up, stood a little taller and lived with a little more flair for the time they were wearing their cape. 

We've all come around to the idea that play can be a great way to learn a new skill. If we aren't sure about trying drawing or writing or coding, it can create a new path to experimentation.

But including play in our lives is revolutionary simply because it's playful. It draws us out of the fixed way in which we look at ourselves and create space for confidence to grow. It can offer paths to connection. If we're in pain, it can gently guide us to identify our feelings, and express ourselves to others in a way that feels safe. Even when it's whimsical and imaginary, play frees us to imagine very real, new possibilities for ourselves. 

 

Filling Those Long Summer Days with Play

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Summer is in full swing and we're busy at Spark with a joyful influx of kids who are trying to fill those long summer days with as much happiness as they can. Not only do we have a smattering of awesome scheduled programs, we have drop-in hours and drop-in programs for those of you who like to take summer as a chance to fly by the seat of your pants.

Many parents are worried about the dreaded summertime learning lapse. But before you go filling up all those hours, maybe this summer you can embrace the importance of time to play. When kids engage in both structured and unstructured play, they are also working on emotional tolerance, social skills, and team buildingskills that are vital to success in an ever-connected world. Our drop-in center and structured programs are all centered around play.

Play if different for everyone. For some people, playing is about reading, imagining strange and exciting worlds. For some it's building forts and for others it's building a robot. You can do all those things at Spark—just take a look at of our patrons below. They're learning, connecting with each other, and having a great time. Sounds like a nice way to spend summer! You'll notice that there are kids and adults in the photos below. That's because we have opportunities for people of all ages to play! We believe everyone deserves to be part of the Creativity Club.

Our hours have be changing a little bit, so you can sleep in and stay out later; we'll open at 11 and stay open until 7.

We also want to take this chance to thank Kalispel Tribe and Northern Quest Casino for supporting youth programs, like Fort Party, which is featured in the middle top row of photos. It is in part due to their support that we are able to offer youth programming at no cost and we are ever grateful!