Blazer Leadership at the Children's Museum
The Children's Museum of the Upstate's High School Volunteer Leadership Program allows teens to build critical thinking and leadership skills. Beyond gaining knowledge about informal education in early childhood, volunteers also learn about specific program content, therefore focussing the volunteer program on four areas: leadership, collaboration, teaching skills, and social skills. Caedmon Evans, a Junior at Greer Middle College, was once a part of this program.
It was "the summer before freshman year," Caedmon said. "I needed service hours." The Children's Museum idea was brought up by his parents who found out about it through Caedmon's older sister, a GMC graduate, who volunteered there as well. "I guess it was just a hand me down idea," Caedmon said.
There were multiple shifts, they called them, that could be signed up for via Sign Up Genius. "One of the main shifts I did was [when] I was a hall monitor," Caedmon said. "I would walk around and clean up certain areas." The BILO Mart, for example, would get particularly disorganized so Caedmon would have to return each item to its proper place. “I’m probably a person who enjoys organizing stuff into different categories," Caedmon said even though, in this specific shift, he was told where to place everything so he couldn't reorganize in his own way. Caedmon added that he “would also pick up...scraps of paper where they had paper airplanes and...this wind tunnel."
The Children's Museum also had this sort of vacuum-like chamber where kids could throw colored balls around a pipe, and the vacuums would move them around. However, Caedmon said, “sometimes the balls would get stuck." So he had to play with the pipes by putting his hand over them, like a musical instrument, to see if he could direct the air into one location to push all the balls out.
“Another shift I did was [when] I helped with a crafts class,” Caedmon said. “There would be a specific craft...for the week, and I would go down with...an older instructor, someone who actually worked at the museum, and I would basically be, like, their little helper." Caedmon would go around asking the kids questions like,"Do you need help?" Or, "What can I do for you?” The only craft Caedmon remembers was around Christmas time when the kids were given fake, foam snow and told that they could make snowmen. Although this might sound like fun, Caedmon didn't enjoy this shift particularly well because the kids didn't seem comfortable "around a guy like me because I was awkward.”
This picture is "probably a banana keyboard," Caedmon said, that he would push around on a cart similar to the computer carts we have here at GMC. Atop the cart lay four bananas, a wire, and a computer. A kid could hold a special, wire wand and touch the banana so that it would make sounds. "It was basically to teach kids about electricity," Caedmon said before explaining that his job was to push the cart around and seek out children who were young enough to find his lesson intriguing. "I had to judge that myself," Caedmon said, referring to the age of a child, which was like a 50/50 chance because he could accidentally think that a 16-year-old, for example, was a nine-year-old. "I don’t think that happened," Caedmon said, but "I could have done that." Caedmon tended to correctly discern the age of one out of every three kids. "If I [had been] there longer," Caedmon said. "I probably would have done a whole lot better."
Although the Children's Museum does not enforce a specific uniform, volunteers are required to wear long khaki pants and an unadorned, collared shirt. Volunteers also wear lanyards that display their name and allow access to back rooms.
Because he finished his hours ahead of time, Caedmon's career at the Children's Museum ended early in the spring of 2016 and he “never went back again.” Although Caedmon enjoyed volunteering there, that type of work was not something he wanted to continue doing.
Caedmon recommends volunteering at the Children's Museum to "most of the females because they’re probably really good with children." However, some of the guys could do it, too, especially if they can explain a complex, or seemingly complicated, topic to a three or four-year-old. Caedmon also recommends this opportunity if you are energetic and outgoing.