Necessary Boredom

Here’s a fun conversation starter: In sixty seconds, tell me how many ways a cat and a refrigerator are alike. Go!

Both purr, produce heat, are cold towards humans, hold milk and cream, can have hair balls…. You get the idea.

Why do this? First of all, it’s funny. Secondly, it requires that you get rid of the conventions that you’ve built up over time in your head. Finally, if you do this as a team, it’ll really start to get the creative juices going.

Paper Clips

Did you know that 98% of five-year-old kids come up with 100 ways to use a paper clip over the course of one hour? Guess how many 35-year-olds could do the same. (The answer is 2%!)

Sir Ken Robinson, he of Ted Talk fame, tells of this study in an attempt to explain divergent thinking. This is not the same thing as creativity, or as Sir Ken says it, “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Rather, it’s an important aspect of creativity – being able to see the same thing… differently.

When I walk through the Boys’ bunks at night, there are a lot of examples of divergent thinking. Tennis courts laid out with duct tape on the bunk floor. Towels hung from the ceiling to change bunk beds into forts. Little pieces of tape everywhere (including the porch) marking the place from which someone had made a nerf hoop basket. And, don’t get me started about porch ball….

The girls are no different. I’ve seen BBG played hundreds of times and I still have little idea on how it’s played but they sure do. The few moments that I’m allowed to watch Panic, our girls’ favorite skit game, easily displays divergent thinking. (Plus, ladies… c’mon. I don’t sound THAT southern….) The costumes they create for Twinner Dinner with all 11 in a bunk together? Stunning!

Creativity at Camp

Creativity at camp comes from a number of sources. First, we remove a whole lot of external stimuli – no phones, precious few screens, and no homework. Secondly, we’ve got great support and encouragement from the counselors to stretch those creative muscles. Finally, we give the group a chance to be either bored.

Yes… I said it – I don’t mind a little boredom at camp.

It inspires creativity, especially in a community that really comes together. Without these moments of ‘umm… what are we going to do?’, we wouldn’t have Bench Ball, BBG, Night at the Races, Trash Bag Fashion, Queen’s Request or dozens of other fun ideas.

So, knowing all of the benefits of boredom and the power of divergent thinking, how can we get more creative back home? It’ll take three c’s: courage to actually put the phones down and turn off the tv, connection with each other and, finally, a bit of creative thinking.

Have a creative week!