There's a camp in Minnesota that's taking kids on quite an adventure.
An adventure in cardboard, that is.
For the past few years, the Minneapolis-based camp Adventures in Cardboard has been opening up the hearts and minds of area youth through outdoor arts and play — and lots of it.
Created by artist and teacher Julian McFaul, the camp is based around workshops that encourage kids to use nature and their imaginations to create their own fun spaces, both mentally and physically.
And they've got plenty of space to do it. With six locations scattered around the Twin Cities, you can find campers on fantastic wooded trails, high open country fields, and miles of lake or river shoreline. It looks like the ultimate adventure.
The camp comes with the mindset that when you give kids the freedom to be outdoors and be creative, it can compete with any smartphone app, video game, or television show.
I think that's right.
Julian told me that the idea for the camp came naturally from the culture of the Powderhorn Park neighborhood that his family, including his two kids, live in.
"People here just like to build stuff and play. ... We had a giant pirate ship on wheels one year that we ripped around the blocks of Powderhorn, and the kids would get off every once in awhile and storm someone's yard."
Um ... that's amazing and quite a way to get to know the neighbors. And it does pose the question: Why play video games for hours on end when you can be the star in your own real-life version?
I think it's safe to say the kids are enjoying themselves — and it's good for them, too.
"From the work of Richard Louv and others describing 'nature deficit disorder,' we know children are smarter, healthier, and happier when they have time for semi-structured play in natural places," Julian said.
And this year, the camp is trying to make sure ALL kids have the opportunity to experience the fun. Because you shouldn't have to be rich to kick butt in cardboard.
"I know the first thing a girl or boy usually does when they stand at the entrance of the Great Forest, no matter what their gender, ethnicity, or culture, is to grab a stick, do some sword-fighting moves and taunt the monsters inside to come and get her!"
If you feel like helping to make the camp available to more kids, feel free to check out the Indiegogo campaign they are running to raise scholarship funds for future campers.
Adventures in Cardboard is such a great outlet that adults want in too.
"We've had so many requests for an adult retreat organized around the same games and creative activities we do with kids that we're organizing one in the spring and one in the fall of 2016," Julian said.
I mean, I get it. Laughing and screaming with your friends while running around in handmade cardboard gear? It's like the ultimate dream.
I love that it's turned into a reality.