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Update on Uncamp

So we’ve been doing Uncamp for about a week now.  For anyone who didn’t read my first post about Uncamp here’s the link.  Basically, Uncamp is my answer to my son not wanting to attend summer camps anymore and my desire to keep him from playing computer games and actually facilitate additional learning, growing and creating for him.

So far my son is thriving and I’m, in typical fashion the rebellious one. I’ll start with myself.  I think part of the problem is that I haven’t set up the Stay Focused Chrome Extension yet.  I started to set up and my whole computer started running really slow, so I uninstalled it.  I need to get a consultation from my husband about what I need to do to install it and make it run properly with my system.  In the meantime I’ve been finding that I’M the sneaky one!  This was shocking to me.  I’m sneakin’ around looking at various online sources or doing other things that it’s not time for me to be working on.  I’ll look at the schedule and think, “hmmm, that’s what I should do.  I wonder what’s going on on Facebook?”

Photo of my son at the graduation ceremony for his elementary school

My son on the other hand, has really impressed me with how well he’s doing with the program.  I think he really likes knowing there is a plan for the day.  He has the schedule on his bulletin board and is referencing it all the time.  Sometimes he’s reminding me when I’m off task!  This is so backwards..  I’ve never seen him work so hard at so many new skills and be so motivated to help or initiate work around the house.

I’ve been amazed to watch  my son developing these skills:

1. Creative motivation: He is so motivated to try new things that ordinarily he would be resistant to.  Like for example, yesterday he spent 15 minutes making a journal/comic.  It’s about his life, but in a comic form.   Creative, right?  And he’s writing!  I can’t tell you how much this makes me happy.  Sure it’s a comic, but he’s writing!  This was his idea to so extra points for creativity.

2. Housework and home improvement motivation: He’s been initiating chores around the house.  It might be time for him to unload the dishwasher and he’s saying to me, “Hey Mom, why don’t I wipe down the counters too?”  What?  How is this happening?  I’m thrilled of course, but wow!  I didn’t expect this.  He’s offering to do many tasks and really staying motivated to complete them without complaining because he knows these tasks will bring him what he wants, computer/game time.  He’s also been helping me hang shelves, level photos and hang them, etc.  I was the type of kid who was doing simple home improvement projects mostly by myself and learning as I went.  I feel great that he’s also learning home improvement skills and from his mother no less!  This makes me really happy!

3. Deep Concentration on skill-based activities: In the past he might have made a small little video with much encouragement from me and once he finished the 30 minutes or 1 hour video he would have complained that he was bored and that he wanted more game time.  Now he knows the schedule.  He’ll have one hour of video making time before lunch each day and then when it’s time for more project time and he can choose  the project, he’s choosing to make more videos.  He’s spending about 3 hours a day working on filming, editing and uploading videos.  He’s loving it!  He’s never seem so engaged in his creative work before!  I’m so excited to see what new skills he’ll develop this summer!

4. Time management and game management:  This has been the most shocking of all the new skills I see my son developing.  He is rationing his game time very responsibly and it’s something I never discussed with him.  He’s saving time each day so that he and his dad can play Minecraft together at the end of each day.  I noticed at the beginning of the week that he wasn’t spending as much time playing games as he was allotted in the afternoon.  I asked him a couple of days ago, “Are you saving up time for evening to play games with your dad?” He said” Yeah, I like to have some game time with dad at the end of the day so, I’m saving it up.”  Holy crap!  Totally impressive, right?

OK, now back to me and my less impressiveness.  I know that part of the issue is that I am a left handed, right brained, head in the clouds creative type who has somehow managed to get enough time management and organization skills to function in the world.  I was raised by a creative person and had basically no schedule ever, in my life, until I grew up.  I think Uncamp might be the most scheduling I’ve ever tried to impose upon myself.  It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  I also think I need to rework the schedule a bit because I’m finding that there are times of the day that I don’t wanna, wanna.  There are other times when I think now is a good time for that, but it’s not on my schedule, which brings up another issue.  I am very intuitive, so I tend to be motivated by my mood or a moment.  Trying to do things based on when I’m supposed to do them is really challenging for me.  I think part of my problem is that the schedule needs some tweaking to suit my needs better and part of it is that I need to settle into this new style of managing myself.

The other issue is that I guess I’ve never really tracked how often I’m getting distracted in a day.  I am someone who tends to like a lot of things going on.  I’m happiest when I’m doing a few things at the same time or in close succession. I love to have people over, listen to music, cook, maybe business planning, often all at the same time.  I think everyone has their own processing time, mine tends to be very fast.  I think in my normal life, I might check my email, Facebook, etc up to 5-10 times a day.  Maybe more.  It’s almost like a nervous habit, because when I try not to check I’ll think, “BUT I HAVE TO CHECK MY EMAIL” (or facebook or fill in the blank).  Now that I’m tracking how often I’m losing concentration from what I’m working on, I’m seeing that I get distracted regularly and often!  I had no idea.  I think because I’m pretty good at doing a lot of things at once or within close succession, I hadn’t noticed this before.

I’m working hard at observing my behavior around this project and trying not to judge it. My first thought once I realized that although my son is the juvenile, I am the delinquent, was to make myself a really cool glittery dunce cap.  My second thought was to make the dunce cap and burn it.  My third thought was that I’m trying to stay on track with my schedule and making and burning dunce caps is too much of  a distraction.  Also, making a dunce cap has inherent judgement involved and I’m not judging.  To change a behavior you must acknowledge it and I acknowledge that I’m very distracted by the computer.

OK, so I’m working on setting up the Stay Focused Chrome Extension, revamping my schedule and a few tweaks to my son’s as well so we can both participate in our schedules together, not judging my natural rebelliousness and also trying to calm my inner rebel.  I’ll update you next week on how things are going and if I’ve tamed my inner rebel.

Here’s me at 5, sporting my best rebel girl face.

I’m wondering if anyone have any questions for me about Uncamp? I feel like there is so much more I could say about it, but you know, I’ve gotta stay on task with my schedule so no more time at the moment for writing, but if you ask me a question in the comments section, I promise to get back to you at my allotted computer time and respond to your questions, that is if my inner rebel girl doesn’t sneak online and respond earlier.  OK, I’m cracking myself up here.  Hope you’re all doing well with your summer plans!

by: Jen

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4 Responses to “Update on Uncamp”

  1. Stephanie Pesceone Says:

    Step back and look at the big picture here: you are an amazing mom (like above and beyond) and you are raising a creative son with strong values. Don’t get yourself too worked up over not being able to nail down staying on task. It sounds like you are trying your best and are very aware of when you find yourself getting distracted. It is a learning process for you and it will take a lot of time before it feels comfortable. Sounds like you are both learning at uncamp! Let your creative side thrive and the structure will fall into place somewhere along the way.

  2. Lea Says:

    You are so funny! I have to say, Indigo and I nearly copied your uncamp schedule, with a few of our own tweaks, and we are loving it (although…I am reading your blog right now after a quick facebook check instead of working…). I showed her your 1st blog post and she thought it was a great idea. She also said, “It seems like Oliver and I like a LOT of the same things!” They are both 11, with creative mamas, so go figure :) Anyway, thanks again for the idea! We’re having fun making it our own.

  3. jen Says:

    Thanks, Stephanie. I love the big picture! It’s the details of the big picture that frustrate me at times. I appreciate all your kind words! I know I am hard on myself and I’m really working on being non-judgemental as much as I can, however I am being honest about my feelings, because I feel like it’s more useful if I’m saying how i really feel. I love your last sentence the most about letting my creative side thrive and the structure will fall into place. You’re wise. Thank you!

  4. jen Says:

    Thanks, Lea! Glad my posts have been helpful! That’s cool that Indigo and Oliver have so much in common! Glad you’re having fun making your own Uncamp!