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Month: October 2010 (page 2 of 2)

a journey to ten thousand villages

Earth Scouts has started up again and this year we are focusing on the human rights unit. So far we had one meeting in which we tried to provide a little overview of what we’ve done the last two years, and then we moved on to some general information of what human rights is all about. This meeting included an activity to help the kids identify basic needs and come up with our group’s own list of human rights. Afterwards we read the book We Are All Born Free from Amnesty International and discussed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The meeting ended with the kids completing a craft project of a symbolic bridge that connected the U.S. with a country of their choice and writing a goal of what they want to work on to help achieve human rights for everyone. We also shared with the [singlepic=811,300,300] Earth Scouts lean about fair tradegroup a great short documentary on The Story of Human Rights from Youth for Human Rights.

The other day, instead of a meeting I organized a field trip for the Earth Scouts to go visit a fair trade store, Ten Thousand Villages in Glen Ellyn. Fair trade is not a new topic for the kids. We explored this topic last year when we were discussing economic justice, but we felt that this is an issue that is worth bringing up again. The store was a cool little boutique in the downtown section of Glen Ellyn. It had some really neat items made by artisans from all over the world–and best of all the artisans are paid fairly for the work that they do! Clarissa, one of the board members for the store, did a short presentation for us explaining more about fair trade and providing a little about how Ten Thousand Villages works with the artisans and their communities. She talked about how fair trade is not only about making sure the workers are paid fairly and have good working conditions, but it is also about helping people gain a better quality of life and empowering people who might otherwise be exploited. Ten Thousand Villages works at developing friendships and long-term relationships with these artisans. Clarissa also discussed how fair trade is about employing sustainable ways and using natural and recycled materials when [singlepic=812,300,300] Earth Scouts visit Ten Thousand Villagespossible. She showed us some examples of the items that the store carries–from reusable shopping bags made in Cambodia from recycled fish feed bags to a rooster ornament made in Columbia from dried orange peels to rattles made in Cameroon from gourds and beads. After the talk everyone browsed about the store, many of us purchasing at least one item (me–I purchased many items . . . I just couldn’t resist!). My hope is that from this field trip and talk some of the kids and their families will think more about fair trade when they shop and know that there are ways to ensure that the items they are purchasing are made by people who are not being exploited, but rather by individuals who are earning a fair compensation and are being treated with dignity and respect. Don’t we all deserve this!

autumn camping in wisconsin

Last week, we took Aidan on his first camping trip. Chris wanted to go someplace closer to home, but I was bent on going to one of my favorite camping destinations–Governor Dodge State Park in western Wisconsin. The park is in Dodgeville, WI about 40 minutes west of Madison. I’ve been camping there since I was a teenager, and Chris and I have been there several times (the last time was probably a decade ago, but who’s counting). I really wanted to return there, because the place is kind of special to me, so I thought it would be really cool to share that with Aidan.

And it was. We set out on a Friday morning, meandering our way across state and county roads, stair-stepping our way north and west across Illinois and into Wisconsin. In the late afternoon, we arrived at the park office, checked in, and found our campsite. Even though we made reservations, we weren’t able to get our first choice site, as it was a pretty busy weekend. The site was a little too close to the campsite entry road and shower house for my taste, but this proved useful for us as Aidan isn’t quite the fan of peeing behind a tree. The short walk to the flush toilets, to the guy selling firewood, and to the playground proved convenient. Still, the site was nestled in the trees and honestly, there isn’t truly a “bad” site in the place.

So, we made our camp–complete with 8-man tent (giving us lots of room), canopy over the picnic table, and campfire. It was really nice. That first night we cooked soy dogs over the open fire, which was yummy. The food got better after that. We ate pancakes, tofu scramblers, minestrone soup, and drank campfire coffee (well, Chris and I did anyway).

During the day we hiked about–discovered some waterfalls, walked through the tall grasses abutting an empty beach, played at the campsite playground, and just explored. In the evening, we sat by the fire and told stories over Jiffy Pop Popcorn. (Aidan got a kick out of that.) The days were chilly, but the nights were downright cold–low 40s one night. It was a bit colder that we thought it would be, but we managed to stay warm beneath a pile of sleeping bags and fleece blankets. Aidan tends to be pretty stubborn when it comes to dressing appropriately for the weather, so he got a bit cranky as the temperature dropped, but he recovered quickly.

All in all, it was a good weekend. We walked the campgrounds and Aidan has already picked out which site he wants to camp on during our next visit. It’s a beautiful one overlooking a deep valley of trees. (Chris and I camped at this site years ago, and it truly is beautiful. You can hike for hours right off the back of your campsite deep into the valley.) I love camping, and I’m hoping that Aidan will come to love it too. He seems to so far. We’ll see.

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