Spontaneous Activities

One of the issues with planned tours is whether they are flexible, capable of responding to the teachable moment, or the discovery of elements not in the tour guide. I was told recently by a friend of a guided tour in Yellowstone where hikers unexpectedly came upon a flock of cranes. The tour guide did not comment, but instead directed their attention to the official tour curriculum.

This is relevant to the nature of connectivity, since forming an interest in and attachment to a place and its elements is often the result of a spontaneous interlude where the tour takers enter into and participate in discovery and symbolic exchange. In this section, segments from the previous pages that offer aspects of spontaneous activity are extracted and presented as separate capsules for consideration.

Also included are first person observations by the urban ethnographer concerning opportunities for serendipity during the tour.

I am struck by the diagram of this activity. We move from station to station and hear the appropriate information. We are "receivers" that can fine tune the information by asking questions. I wonder whether students will be able to set the agenda (or reset it,) whether this structure can be open to responding to the moment, or whether the weight of the time limit and set number of stations closes the process to serendipity.

We come out of the forest and into the bright sun. A boy finds a snail and brings it to me to photograph, but does not interrupt the Ranger.

JP leads us to a recent "blow out" in the dunes, where the children gather around him, sitting on the sand. From my perspective on the rim, it looks like he and the children are sitting in the giant scoop of a hand.

Charlotte uses this moment to say that some kids need to go down to the lake and get a water sample. They will test the water when we return to school.

We move along out of the blow out toward the leeward edge of the big dune. E and C are dismissed to go down for the water sample. They are told to meet up with us on the far dune. We take the path, they head down the dune to the lake shore.

K and L come up to me. "Look at the beautiful bug over there." they say They take me to a bush with a sparkling bug on it, that is very beautiful. I photograph it. Then we hurry to catch the group.

He tells the kids they can go down the dune, but not to run. "Either walk or go on your bottom." he directs.

"Can we roll?" someone asks


R says to L, "I'm going on my butt."

As the kids start down the dune, Katy tells them to stop and wait at the bottom.

E rolls down the dune, going very fast. The other kids watch. He stands up and cries out, "Roll down, its the awesomest." The other boys start to roll. Then some of the girls roll.

When everyone is down, Rick takes a photo from the top, and then walks back with T. who did not want to go down.

When we arrive in the bus area, the kids brush off sand and dump sand from their shoes. "Let's make a dune, guys" one of the girls says.

C says that it was hard to climb back up the dune from the lake. We could hear E panting from where we were," R says

Rick and Katy talk about the last part of the trip. The roll down the hill was "a good way to end it." Rick says the kids "learned stuff," but also had "fun." The afternoon reinforced the information presented in the morning.

On the way home, Charlotte shows me her sketch book. she has worked out some perspective of different drawings and settled on pastels and water color as medium for the work next week.

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