Sorry for the radio silence, guys. Things have just been, well, heavy lately, and I don’t have any answers.
In a non-Covid-19 year, West Virginia 4-H Camp OMC would be in session right now. I’d be seeing pictures and statuses from friends who were counseling and missing my time at the Mill.
With everything that’s happening, I’ve been thinking a lot about my time in the WV 4-H program, and I just wish that the whole world could’ve had the same experience I did.
One of the staples of OMC is discussion. They bring in guest speakers to talk to a room of a few hundred kids, from ages 14-21, from all type of backgrounds.
There is an assembly for the individual to speak on their topic; then everyone breaks away into small groups to discuss and then we join back up in the assembly hall for a large group discussion.
Often the topics are controversial. Talking to two hundred plus kids about clean energy and coal in West Virginia is what some would call asking for trouble. The difference in backgrounds is immense. You’ve got kids from the most poverty-stricken areas to the most affluent. You’ve got kids whose counties have zero coal income and those whose families cannot survive without it. You’ve got kids just barely out of middle school conversing with college kids. It’s truly remarkable.
You’d think that this would have imploded, that kids would spend the rest of the week hashing and rehashing and arguing. But the structure of the program teaches how to listen and hear other sides to arguments and communicate respectfully. After the discussion, kids on opposite sides of the conversation would be square dancing.
It’s a skill that I’ve been so grateful for countless numbers of times in my life.
Like I said earlier, I don’t have any answers for how to resolve the issues the world is facing today, but I think we’d all be a little better off with more open facilitated conversations and hands held open ready for a dance.