Thursday, September 6, 2007


You put a stick in a year seven boy's hand and it becomes a gun, a sword, a spear, a boomerang. It gets poked in the fire and shunted around the campsite with the obligatory train sound effects. It narrowly misses someones eye and is blown on to create another fire some distance from the original. A fire he can call his own, to lovingly tend and feed with ants poked into a frenzy with the original stick.

Year seven girls sing into their sticks. They ask me if I think they'll be suitable for cooking marshmallows or damper and take turns in carrying them back to the campsite. They use them to write names in the dirt, and when they're done, they ask if it's okay to put them on the fire.

That's the difference between boys and girls. Of course, there's a full spectrum of variation within the gender profiling of stick use but the fundamentals are universal. Some other things I noticed this week in Murtoa were that girls fart less than guys (about seventeen to one, though the girls DID fart), boys didn't spend a lot of time arm-in-arm singing the Barmy Army theme song but the girls had it on high rotation, and boys and girls who spend every school day together rejoice when they're allowed to spend time apart doing girlie/boyie things.

School camps, in the bush, with shooting stars and a fire, have a magic about them. High praise to the teachers who make them happen.

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