I came up to Urbana, Illinois during KOOP’s winter camp. Also the coldest weekend in January. I graduated from University two short weeks before, and I was eager to get back into the world of Adventure Play. Kelsey let me spend a day with the kids during camp to check out the atmosphere of KOOP. As I walked into the winter camp, I realized it was everything I could have hoped for in an adventure play space (except being outside, because of the record freezing temperatures). There were snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, “homes” made of boxes and fabric, a space for artistic creations, a station for tinkering and taking objects apart, and an open area for play with big movement. I had been there for a few hours and the children had already made me a friendship bracelet, given me tours of their elaborate homes, and one child even offered that I could live in his RV garage- because I told him I didn’t live in Urbana yet, and therefore did not have a home.
Throughout my time in the children’s space, there was one child who I could see out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure me out, or maybe waiting for some one-on-one time. Finally when I wasn’t focused on any other child, this little boy ran up to me. He looked up at me with his wide eyes and eagerly told me that he was the third fastest kid in his class! I reacted in amazement, and told him that I was the fastest girl in my grade growing up. He reacted equally amazed, then proceeded to promptly “tag” me on the shoulder. This was quickly followed by “You’re it!.” He sprinted away, and strategically proceeded to put the larger materials like slides and tires in between us.
For the rest of the day, the game continued. He would come up to me and tap me and say, “Gotcha!, You’re it!” then would run away again, and i would try and chase him down.
A few short weeks later I decided to join KOOP’s efforts in the play movement. I decided to move up to Urbana, and thankfully I didn’t have to move into the cardboard RV garage (although it was a very sweet offer).
My first day of KOOP’s afterschool program soon followed. I was out on the playground observing a few children playing restaurant, when I spotted my freeze tag friend. He didn’t however, recognize me. It wasn’t until 30 minutes later when we went inside that he became curious of a watercolor I was painting. He walked up to me and asked me what I was drawing. I answered truthfully that I wasn’t really sure yet. He looked up at me curiously, and looked down again. He immediately whipped his head back up and his whole energy level spiked- his eyes became filled with excitement and he ‘tagged’ me on the shoulder, “You’re it!” then ran away.