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2016 Session G - Juniors

Session G: Day 6 - On Fire

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline Martin4 Comments

(Written by Jack, Ana, and Serena) 

Today is Friday, which means our projects at the end of the day are where they will be when parents come on Saturday. It's our last big push for the finish.

In the morning before work begins there is a certain level of tomfoolery and goofing off. we started with licking banana slugs we found in the wet morning grass. 

After our morning fun, its time to get back to our projects. Before we get to work, we have a planning meeting to figure out what everyone is working on. Caroline helps reorganizes the Piki and Kablooi team into different, smaller teams to tackle the problems we need to solve to get the bridge, treehouse, and zipline working. 

Once we split into teams there is frenzy of activity down in the work site. One group figures out how to attach the bridge to the treehouse while the other starts building a crows-nest above the base platform. 

Aya and the Nooi team are working on getting their suspension bridge up and working. Here, she problem solves with a finicky drill.

Lucas takes a turn at drilling. These holes will be used to put paracord through, providing support for team Nooi's suspension bridge.

CR-7 can't resist clambering upon the track. We've finally measured the track to 306'!

Team Nooi has been hard at work on their suspension bridge. They're putting the finishing touches on their piling (the tower that stands in the center of a suspension bridge from which the cables run down).

Lucas saws off a bit of 2x4 that is preventing his team's piling from sitting flush on the the base they've built for it.

Switching over to team Kablooi, we find Ryker and Jack cutting wood for the crows-nest they're building for the treehouse.

Zyla and Ava take a break from work and use their newfound whittling skills to create some sharp pointy sticks (a Tinkering School classic).

Take a look at our little village. With the sun shining bright overhead it's quite picturesque here. 

Team Nooi grabs help from other teams to transport their piling.

The crows-nest team has now finished the triangular supports for the bottom of the platform, and it is time to attach them to the tree. First we had to measure out where wanted our platform to be, we started to put the platform lower on the tree when Gever encouraged us to move higher and put the platform up past the brach in our way. we did to that, which made our tree platform higher than another platform in Tinker City.

During morning snack a group of staff and kids play a game of cards, cards are a common part of the social fabric within the group. 

Nooi team prepares to raise the pilling for cable stay bridge. Aya and Liora begin knot rope for lifting up the heavy pilling. 

Miles checks with the the team pulling the piling up with rope tied to the top. and slowly but surely the piling rises towards its full stature. 

Look at our city skyline - with the bridge piling up, the windmill spinning, and the crows-nest being stabilized, it's quite the sight to behold. 

While working out past the rising tide Nooi team has to be careful not to step in the water and get attack by laser sharks - if attacked, they get 5 minutes of dish duty, in service to the collaborators who have to rescue them. They developed a system of rapid deploy bridges for maneuvering across the water.  

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Lilly

Miles supports the piling. The paracord suspension cords are a rainbow of color. 

Aya gazes down from the windmill platform. 

Caroline stretches upward. 

Portrait of a Collaborator: Jack

A team's been hard at work anchoring the zipline to the Sky Tower. Michael tests its strength. 

"I've been whittling on the railroad, I've been whittling on the railroad..."  Caden practices with his new knife. 

Michael does the first test run on the first human-ridden zipline ever created at Tinkering School. 

Ana and Serena carry over the ladder that Ana helped Ava build. The ladder connects the tree platform to the crows-nest.

It's Friday, and so after dinner, we hop on the back and sides of Gever's big truck, and ride up the hill for our campfire. 

Getting to ride on a truck this way tends to draw lots of grins. 

Something about gathering around a campfire draws us all closer. 

And then we light the fire, and watch it burn. As we let it settle, we talk and enjoy each other's company. 

After it burns down, it's time for another Tinkering School tradition - throwing sawdust into the fire. When done right, it creates a cool array of sparks. 

And then one final experiment. Milk bottles are made out of HDPE, which burns clean. We attach one to the end of a stick, light it over the fire, and watch it melt as it burns. 

Today, we were on fire. Tinkerers worked hard to get bridges up, throwing their energy at the project. They've displayed teamwork, tenacity, and talent. Our fire tonight is a celebration of our togetherness and accomplishment. Tomorrow, parents arrive. 

Session G: Day 5 - Chopsaws, Pickaxes, Knives, and Crawdads

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline MartinComment

(Written by Gever, Elizabeth, and Ana)

After a brief morning check-in, everyone picks up wood, tools, screws, and heads out to Tinker City to get to work. We've seen a distinct pattern this summer (and noticed it previous summers); Thursdays are a big work day. Projects are often still somewhat nascent on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, and by the end of Thursday you can really see the future clearly.

Erving (aka Matilda) and the Nooi are almost ready to put the deck plates on their bridge.

Kablooi gets to work with Gever this morning (who is filling in for Camp Captain Caroline [miss you Serena]). Their next step is a big one; it's time to put the deck on the platform.

Ben and Liora get started on the composite twelve-foot posts they need to suspend the Piki rope bridge.

At the other end of the post, we find the unstoppable Aya.

Lucas is Likewise Lworking hard. It feels like everyone knows what they need to do, why it needs to be done, and how to do it. It's a great start to a Thursday.

Now Erving has moved on to the digging part of the plan. They need to level out the ground where the Nooi bridge supports meet the earth.

Oh board, thou art so rectilinear and straight. What will I do with you today? Shall I make thee into a triangular support for a bridge, or shall I just appreciate and admire you on this oh so overcast morn? (Zyla)

We don't require ear protection for sorting lumber, but it can't hurt, right? Ben and Lucas are starting to notice that we are running low on wood at this end of the summer.

Muktuk (aka Simon) and Swiss Champ (aka Michael) are transporting lumber and supplies on the flatbed cart, but are now getting somewhat annoyed that the guide wheels have been cannibalized.

Kablooi has decided to use plywood for the deck of the tree house and that means that they have to cut a tree-hole in half of a giant hexagon, so Ana shares her extensive jigsaw skills with Ava.

Lily gets a hand from Miles as she puts the crossbar on the suspension towers that will hold up the bridge.

Ben, Liora, and Lucas get ready for the next big step in the bridge tower build.

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Lily

Still life with driver and hammer.

Ava and Ryker work out the cut lines for the deck half-hexagons.

Portrait of a Junior Collaborator: Lauren

In what will become a theme for the day, Gever shows Michael how to safely use the circular saw to make a long cut on a full sheet of plywood.

Portrait of a Zombie: Caden

Happy tinkerers at play.

Muktuk takes a turn at the circular saw.

Meanwhile, back at the chopsaw, Erving cuts some bridge parts.

Portrait of a Tinkerer: CR-7 (Nathan)

Erving, Elizabeth, and Zyla, a study in blue.

Portrait of a Consternated Collaborator: Yoel

Portrait of a Tinkering Manager: Karen

Then it's time for Piki to try the circular saw.

Bridge Party!

Caroline decides to try the platform (after all of Kablooi take turns climbing on it)...

...and then gets to work.

Martha expressed some concern about the reliance on clamps to hold the deck in place, so she gets to work with the driver.

Not wanting to be left out, Cooper gets in on the action.

So so hot.

The Piki suspension bridge is patiently waiting to be suspended, but before the suspenders can be put in place, they have to excavate footing for their pilings.

At the end of the work, we split up into freebuilders and creekgoers. There was a concerted effort to find and catch some crawdads.

Eventually, their bucket contained upwards of ten crawdads.

Ana introduces the freebuilders to some of the crawdads.

Zyla, Aya, and Lilly took advantage of freebuild to make a mighty nice table.

This group has been fascinated by the off-road wagons. Here's Nathan demonstrating his form - he's ready for the olympics.

Zyla takes the table back to the yurt to try it out.

After dinner, it's time for knife training.

Tomorrow we push to the finish line and get these projects working, polished up, and presentable - typical Friday.

Session G: Day 4 - Beach Day (full version)

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline Martin5 Comments

We can't believe it's already day 4; this week is flying by! We gather into our groups after breakfast and come up with a plan for the morning.

Kablooi's tree fort platform is coming along well, but they decide it could use some reinforcements. With a basket full of gussets, they begin to make more triangles.

Ryker makes some angle cuts for the "web" of the tree fort.

Piki's bridge bottom is nearly finished. Ben is really enjoying cutting holes into the boards.

Nooi's bridge platform is chugging along as well. Caden makes some angled cuts for the supports of the bridge, under Gever's ever-watchful eye.

Some of the gussets for the tree fort aren't fitting because the paracord compression belt is in the way. Junior Collaborator Yoel holds one while CoopDogg marks where it needs to be cut.

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The tree fort is finally starting to look like something, and Nooi's bridge is making steady progress in the background.

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Zyla puts together the Nooi bridge platform.

A rare sighting! Collaborator Daniel out from behind the camera.

With the water set to rise this afternoon, Piki starts getting their bridge connected to high ground.

Caden picks out the right screw for the job he's working on with Junior Collaborator Zach, while Swiss Warrior waits to drill the next hole.

Ava and Martha work on connecting the web on the tree fort.

In order for Piki's bridge to work, they need to anchor the bridge into the ground. Collaborator Miles makes holes in the deck of the windmill tower while Lilly screws the bridge temporarily in place.

Lilly also shows off her knot-tying mastery. The figure-eight knot is one of our favorites at Tinkering School, and she uses it here to tie the bridge on.

With the outer ring finished, it's time for preliminary safety testing of the tree fort.  They discover there is some lateral twisting to fix, but the vertical strength is solid when Collaborator Caroline climbs up on it. The triangles slip very slightly on the tree, so the team needs to discuss additional ground supports.

Piki hoists the bridge up to the carousel next. Their teamwork is a marvel to us all.

During our clean-up, we find another thing to add to our workshop museum.

As is Wednesday tradition, we make our way to the beach. It's a tricky climb down, but well worth it.

One of our favorite parts of this beach is all the friendly dogs. This particular dog captures our hearts.

Lucas has a special bond with him as well. Everybody loves this dog!

Well, almost everyone. 

It was a cold day, but it was still refreshing to hop in the water for some of us.

For others, finding the mysterious things the ocean brings to the beach is interesting enough. Erving and Aya have found some kelp!

The soft cliffs make it easy to make little caves with warm, rich sand.

And no trip to this beach would be complete without a trip to the tide pools. Unfortunately, our camera died before we got fully into that adventure.

When we get back and all go through the showers, we get cozy and have hot chocolate, courtesy of Mukluk and Erving tonight.

We finish our tiring day with a showing of The Princess Bride while we sip from our mugs. We settle in to dream about our projects.

Blog written by Caroline.

Session G: Day 3 - Creatures

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline Martin2 Comments

Another cloudy morning greets us on Tuesday, a day that we usually find is harder than other days. We've started our projects, but they haven't come together enough for us to see them, so it's tough to motivate the troops. We start with a pep talk and some sunscreen for when the skies clear up. Team Kablooi has much to decide for their tree fort.

Swiss Warrior takes no time getting to work. Team Nooi is working out their platform over to Kablooi's tree fort.

Meanwhile, team Piki continues their bridge. They have about 30 feet of bridge to make, and a solid plan to do it. Collaborator Miles shows Lucas the ropes.

The 30-foot-long bridge has 40 two-foot pieces to manufacture.

Each piece has to be cut to size and then have two holes drill-pressed into them before the ropes can be put through. There's something of an assembly line that takes form to measure where the holes will be while another team makes the holes. It's a process, but Piki gets is working like a well-oiled machine.

Lucas and Ben are measuring out where the holes go.

The drill press team is cranking them out. Aya punches the holes while Junior Collaborator Liora shows off a particularly beautiful swirly bit from their work.

And Aya switches over to the ropes. The bridge is getting really long!

Meanwhile, Kablooi has re-adjusted the triangles that will make up the base of their tree fort. They load up the cart to take them into the city.

They attach the triangle bases using the method they tested yesterday, twisting paracord until it's as tight as wire.

And after all that hard work, we take a break to show off weird human tricks,

Or to just sit and relax, as Caden and Collaborator Jack do.

Today is also filled with all sorts of interesting forms of life. We find an itty bitty lizard...

We have a yellowjacket nest that we're trying to control...

And Martha has found the joys of the little green beetles that hang around.

The sun finally comes out and we have smiles all around during our break. Ben takes the lead on a ride.

Team Nooi's platform is coming right along.

With lots of good progress finished, we treat ourselves to a visit up with the animals. The goats are one of our very favorite things, as Caden learns.

Hello goats!

Junior Collaborator Elizabeth and Lilly feed the goats our scraps from snack time.

Farm visits are a wonderful time to reset our work-weary heads and reconnect with our friends. Junior Collaborators Yoel and Zach share a tender moment in the goat pen.

CR-7 enjoys the sunshine with a tiny goat pal.

The goats seem to be as happy as we all are that Junior Collaborator Ana was able to join us.

It's Spice! Hello, old friend.

There is also a whole group of tiny cats. Martha has found one she likes...

And the little friend seems to like her, too!

We end the evening hanging around in the playground near the barns. Lilly watches from above.

We come back to an awesome taco night, and settle in for a night of reading and hot chocolate and The Sandlot. Tomorrow we have another day to think about our projects before we head off to the beach. 

Blog written by Caroline.



Session G: Day 2 - Rising Waters

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline Martin2 Comments

Monday! Our first full day together. We wake up bright (or rather, foggy) and early, ready for a full day of tinkering. Teamwork is already blossoming between campers, as seen here, helping each other get to breakfast in the most efficient way possible.

After a filling breakfast, the tinkerers are split into small groups for a quick-build challenge. This week's challenge: transmit and receive two six-letter words over 100 ft, without talking, writing letters, or using power tools. Gever and Caroline explain the rules.

gazebo - 9.jpg

The tinkerers are apprehensive at first, but after some clarifications, they seem more interested in this strange challenge.

Michael/Swiss Warrior and Caden practice signaling letters to their teammates across the parking lot. One of the tougher parts of this challenge is to transmit two letters at a time.

Ryker and his team have decided to write out numbers that correspond to the alphabet on lengths of wood. He finds the Sky Bench quite comfortable for the job.

Nathan/CR7 works with Junior Collaborator Yoel on the key to decode messages for their group.

And there are even fancy stands for hand-free decoding!

After an hour of organizing, planning, and practicing, it's time for the trials. The teams are split up to have part of the team near the benches and part across the parking lot. Each half of each team will have to send a word and receive another word. Each team has an easy word and a tricky word. The words range from PENCIL to GAZEBO, LLAMAS to PIZZAS (though some would argue that the plural of "pizza" is just "pizza." This blogger would decide on a case-by-case basis.)

Ava and Lucas send their team's first word. Their receiving end shouts back across the parking lot, "Juggle!" and a cheer goes up.

Aya's team's code involves jumping up and down. We think she just likes jumping.

Matilda/Erving and Cooper/CoopDogg on the other side like their jumping code, too.

Ryker and Ben send a word back to their team. It's a tense moment waiting for their receiving end to shout back the right word.

Caden and Swiss Warrior complete their word and await confirmation from their team.

It works! Lilly and Martha send back the second word. The receiving end pauses after they decode. "... Gaze bow?" Close enough!

In the end, there was only one message that got scrambled. The tinkerers are asked to anonymously rate how well their team communicated, and then we have a discussion about how to best communicate with each other.

Then, FINALLY, it's time to learn about the project! We take a moment to walk through all six weeks of projects prior to this tinkering session. We marvel at all the hard work put in by tinkerers of all ages, but especially the achievements of our past junior peers. Terminus Station and the first length of track to Midway is especially wowing.

When we get down to the merry-go-round though, we notice something odd. What is this? The ocean is rising? And it's filled with LASER SHARKS? Whoa. You can see it too, right? We take a moment to scope out the paracord water line.

The tide is low now, but we predict that the water level will continue to rise throughout the week, making it harder and harder to build and navigate our city. We decide we want to build and get to high ground, and create ways of getting between the main platforms we've built.

After a quick poll, we break into our teams for the week!

On team Piki: Lilly, Aya, Lucas, and Ben, lead by Collaborator Miles, working on the passage between the Merry-Go-Round and the Windmill Tower.
On team Nooi: Zyla, Caden, Swiss Warrior, Simon/Muktuk, and Matilda/Erving, lead by Collaborator Rhody, working on the passage between the Windmill Tower and the Treehouse.
On team Kablooi: Martha, CoopDogg, Ryker, CR7, and Ava, lead by Collaborator Caroline, working on building the aforementioned Treehouse, which will function as our new high ground.

We get together and come up with group agreements and start planning our projects for the week.

Portrait of Sibling Tinkerers: Mukluk and Erving are here to steal your blueberry muffins.

Team Kablooi doesn't want to harm the tree they'll be using, and thankfully a group of tinkerers from long ago figured out a brilliant method of using torque and compression to make treehouses for the original Piki and Nooi teams. Today, the team learns this technique.

Once paracord is wrapped around the blocks of wood, it can be tightened by twisting the cords until they become taut, and an object (such as a screwdriver) then holds the twist in place.

Team Nooi is working out a bridge, and they enlist the structural expertise of Gever to help them plan their attack.

Their plan is to use ropes through holes in boards to create a rope bridge. They start their exploration.

Portrait of a Tinkerer: CoopDogg, figuring out lengths for the treehouse triangles.

Portrait of a Tinkerer: Aya isn't so sure about that sharp object, but clamps all the same.

Piki's first iteration works! Aya tests out the planks. Look, ma, no hands!

Junior Collaborator Lauren provides the necessary counterweight for the small bridge. We suspect this will be an ongoing challenge for their design.

After dinner, the campers go down to explore the stream. 

They even go travel to the spooky haunted house (which some would argue is simply an old shed, but this blogger would say houses come in all sizes, and that thing is def haunted).

A banana slug is found. Dares commence.

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CR7 goes for it...


Zyla is daring, and Lucas can't look away.

And he goes for it, too. Delicious.

Everyone comes back to the yurts tired and happy. Tomorrow, building starts in earnest, a full day to work out their projects. But, through the night, the waters rise...

Blog written by Caroline.

Session G: Day 1 - One-on-One

2016 Session G - JuniorsCaroline MartinComment

Week 7 of Overnight Camp has started, and with it, a whole group of new campers. We have 14 tinkerers this week, and 11 on staff, making our ratio the closest to one-on-one you can get. We realize this as campers start to arrive and get excited about the possibilities of the week.

With camp names chosen and exploration of the previous builds explored, we all meet up to introduce ourselves and use our imaginations on a strange object. Is it an alien detection system? An advanced make-up applicator? A robot with flappy wings??

We have a brief rules meeting to discuss the top three:

1. Don't hurt yourself or anyone else.
2. If you see a piece of fruit, and you want it, you must eat it.
3. All disputes will be solved with Roshambo.

After that, it's time for tool training and orientation. Our main tools, as always, are drills, clamps, and the chopsaw. Clamps are a great start.

Clamps end up being a two-person task once you get down to it. 

Their task is to build a clamp human, which they all assemble, and even add the final touch: safety goggles!

Once we know how to hold things together with clamps, we learn how to make it more permanent with screws. Drills are the ideal tool for it, and there's lots to learn about them.

Once we learn all about the different settings on the drills, we have a chance to practice with them.

The tinkerers also get a master class from Collaborator Miles about all the different types of wood we use here at Tinkering School.

After that, it's chopsaw time. Gever explains the best and safest ways to use it.

We also learn about the Ready Call, which is how we communicate safely around the chopsaw. If you are ready, the appropriate response is a silent thumbs up.

And then we get choppin!

Everyone gets a chance to cut before we go up to dinner.

Our homemade lasagna dinner fills us up, and after a bit of running around, we all retire to our yurts. Sunday night is going to be tame compared to the rest of our busy week. Tomorrow we'll do some more collaborating -- and then, the big project reveal we've all been anxiously awaiting! Stay tuned for more bloggy goodness tomorrow.

Blogging by Caroline and Daniel.


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