Jamie Black

Children’s trade post comes to Errington Farmers Market

The program was thrown together on June 20 in an attempt to see if people were interested

The Errington Farmers Market is a great place to shop for fresh produce and other goodies and now kids can spend a few hours at the Saturday market doing their own shopping at the Travelling Trade Post.

Jamie Black will be running her children’s program, Wild Craft Play, at the market this season.

The fun new kids program was thrown together on June 20 in an attempt to see if people were interested and according to Black they were.

In fact, there was a beehive of kids around Black’s colourful booth and she said now that she knows she has a hit there will be more added to the Sacred Market Place each week.

“It starts with me as a merchant bringing the Travelling Trade Post, then based on what the children show interest in, they turn it into the Sacred Market Place,” she explained.

Black has been running the creative program since 2008 in many different ways.

Initially it was offered as a summer camp at Errington and French Creek Elementary Schools, then at some of the Horne Lake Caves Park summer camps.

She offered it at the Kulth Festival in 2011 as a two day extravaganza and recently hosted it as a case study for the past couple of months for her Masters in Environmental Education and Communication at Salt Spring Centre School.

She said there are many different benefits resulting from this kind of program.

“Children initially learn patience, communication and how to ask for what they need. This quickly turns into barter and trade, financial management and planning, economics and negotiation, being resourceful and learning new tangible skills like sewing, gluing, and cutting.”

She said she prefers to host her program along the edge of the woods, because it eventually branches off into quests and adventures much like what happens in a video game.

When Black designed the curriculum, she said she purposely took elements from real-life skills that children seem to be lacking as well as video games like, World of Warcraft and Minecraft.

“I wanted to find a way to better engage children in taking care of nature through play, so why not make it an incredibly engaging game?”

The first part of the game starts with the Travelling Trade Post coming to town.

She said with a story written on a scroll, hidden in a mailbox, the children are naturally hooked.

“What child doesn’t like scrolls and random mailboxes found in the forest?  The rest of the game is crafted based on who shows up and what they are capable of.

Black keeps many totes of tricks and tools to entice the players.  She also says that once you start the game, it is possible that it will never end.

Black has been sharing her game for seven years now and knows of children who still have their character from years ago.

Black who has been an outdoor guide, coach, mentor and facilitator with children and youth for 15 years aims to create more opportunities to get children outside in more engaging ways.

She teaches life skills like problem solving, leadership and teamwork using a theory called Guided Discovery.

“It helps them to understand the issues of the environment, and yet see it as a challenge that they can overcome, rather than as a problem that cannot be solved,” she said.

This is the first time she has offered this program at a Farmers Market.  There is a minimum $5 donation with proceeds going toward furthering the development of the program.

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