Loosening the Apron Strings

Living in a rural area means that our kids seldom get the chance to be in town without us. Because we have to drive them everywhere, they rarely go off on their own to find their way around, talk to shopkeepers, buy things, and all the other things that town kids just do.

Last spring, as Helen was getting used to the idea of going to High School, we decided to send her (and a friend) off to town on a scavenger hunt. We wanted them to become comfortable with moving about town on their own and more familiar with some of the offerings the community has for teens. We let them take the day off from school for their big excursion! It was a grand success and they now feel much more comfortable moving about town on their own. Helen confidently walks from the High School to the library, art museum, bakery, etc., now and negotiates around all the Dartmouth kids without a problem.

Here's what they had to do--

  • Get lunch at the Coop. You have a $5 budget. What did you buy?
  • Find the Teen Room at the library. What is a new book on display that looks interesting to you?
  • Search the catalog for a book on William Shakespeare. Find the book. Photocopy page 30.
  • Find the computer space. Find out three factoids about the women you are researching for your paper this apring.
  • Go to the Hood. What is on exhibit? Buy 2 postcards of your favorite works of art.
  • Buy a cold drink at either the College Deli or the Dartmouth Bookstore. What did you get?
  • Find out what live music is playing in April at the Hop. Which show would you like to see?
  • What movies are playing at the Nugget?
Yesterday, Liz had a similar opportunity at the MOST FUN BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER. The party was a giant scavenger hunt about town (different town). Teams of 4 kids went from shop to shop. They had to read their clue to the shopkeeper to see if they were in the right spot, complete a task, and then get their next clue (written in tricky limerick form). Rather than bring birthday presents, the kids each brought $5 which they pooled together in their team. Tasks included:
  • Buying a pastry at the local bakery
  • Saying "Thank You" to the local ski shop owner for all he does for the school
  • Buying a book for the birthday girls at the local bookshop
  • Buying penny candy at the general store
  • Reciting their morning verse to the local Waldorf toy store owner (they hated that!)
  • Buying a small funny gift at the local variety store
  • Having tea and a wee rest at the home of one of the kids
    When they all got back together, they pooled all the candy and everyone got to take some home. The twins each received two books chosen by their friends and two funny gifts. They all met at a local park to give the twins their gifts, eat cupcakes, and play a final game of soccer.

    Just as I want them to feel so comfortable on their own in nature that time floats away, I want them to be confident on their own in town. Loosening the apron strings is so important--all too soon, we'll be cutting them.

    Edited to add:
    Check out the next post, Lost. Helen got lost on the day I was writing this.

Tammy  – (October 18, 2010 at 9:58 AM)  

Oh this is FABULOUS! What a great getting to know your town scavenger hunt...and the party scavenger hut sounds just perfect. Awesome. :)

Diane  – (October 18, 2010 at 11:44 AM)  

Love this! Great idea! Might have to try this in a few years when she is old enough to be left alone in town with a friend.

Dawn  – (October 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM)  

I love this idea! I'm seeing the need to loosen the apron strings a little with my own daughter, and this sounds like so much fun. I might have to borrow this. She would love the opportunity to explore a little- without her mom. ;)

Kristin Nicholas  – (October 18, 2010 at 1:54 PM)  

Love the new header. Great project for your daughter - I grew up in a medium sized town and one of our favorite activities was walking to town (about a mile) and spending time at the 5 & 10 - Newberry's and Woolworth. Sadly all gone now. Happy fall!

momma rae  – (October 18, 2010 at 2:29 PM)  

a wonderful idea!! i have always loved scavenger hunts. what a superb way to get acquainted with town. such a clever mama you are!! ;)

Susan  – (October 25, 2010 at 11:34 PM)  

I loved this post! What a great idea--and a wonderful way to begin to give children their "wings". Such a gentle way to "loosen the apron strings"--you are inspiring.

Four Gambel Girls and a Guy ~ documenting the adventure we call life  – (October 29, 2010 at 2:07 PM)  

Just found your blog via Beauty that moves (you are featured on sidebar) and I love this idea for a birthday party....as my children get older, we need to come up with fun, creative ideas and this is perfect!

Corky B. –   – (October 31, 2010 at 11:07 AM)  

Thanks for posting-- it is so great to read the comments! xox

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