“Free Range” Kid protocol

 “Free Range” Kid protocol

For many returning conferees, Star Island begins at the dock, and while this is often an exciting time for returning Shoalers it can be overwhelming, confusing and stressful for new people especially families who don’t know many other people.

Inviting volunteers to be part of a buddy system can help ease this feeling. Buddies can help by showing people where to put their bags and sit as well as explaining that families often let their kids walk around and explore the boat.

Whether you have a buddy system start on the boat or the island, ask volunteers to have a parent-to-parent conversation about parenting styles and boundaries. Communication and transparency among parents should be emphasized during orientation or early during the conference so that everyone has some common ground from the start of the week. For teens, we suggest parents come to an understanding about shared expectations around free time.

Additionally, use landmarks or create maps for conferees to reference rather than exclusively referring to names of buildings that new Shoalers may not already know.

The idea behind the “free range” kid culture is another example of something that can seem intimidating and unfamiliar to new families. Letting kids be free range is a great and unique aspect of Star that many of us love, but we understand that it should be accessible to all. We need deliberative care to make it more equitable and available especially to new parents, and not just something that is available to people who know more conferees.

State explicitly during your orientation kid-related rules and how youth programming works. Also, while it is always the parents’ responsibility to watch out for the safety and welfare of their child(ren), explain that the culture of the island is to let kids be free, and many adults invite keeping a watchful eye.

One easy way to help new families into this unique piece of Star culture is to have a few volunteers watch kids on the playground during F&W – This sets the tone for free range kid culture and makes F&W more welcoming to families.

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