Essays, Opinions, parenting

What Constitutes Child Friendly?

Recently, Acorn and I spent a little bit of time at our local Pagan Pride Day.

Now, I’ll admit to being biased – the event has had several different organizers over the years, and none have seemed all that organized, but this year was particularly chaotic. There was still no published schedule the day of the event; presenters were invited to email or call to find out their time slots, and as a former (and probably future) presenter, that would drive me batty. There’s no published vendor list (and I’m betting, based on what I saw, that few, if any, vendors made their table fees), so those folks aren’t getting any continuing advertising for their efforts. The combination makes me a bit wary of future involvement – running an event like this isn’t an easy task, but these seem to be basic things that ought to be a priority for a festival.

At any rate, I guess you could say this event was child friendly, because it was in a public park, and the playscape was the focal point for the kids. We didn’t stay all day, but other than this, I saw no evidence of anything that would interest children, other than the vendor with tumbled stones (who, of course, caught Acorn’s attention – she had carnelian, and Acorn is obsessed with all things orange).

I’ve been approached about running kids activities at other local events. Almost no one wants to do them, and my previous involvement in SpiralScouts marks me around here as someone who does “kid things.” And right now, I’m not really up to doing anything….but quite frankly, I do more than just kid things, and I don’t want to be stuck dealing with other people’s kids all. freaking. day. – especially at a festival, where I’d like to have an opportunity to enrich myself as well as others.

I feel like I’ve complained about this before, and I probably have. I just don’t know where I put the various rants 🙂

One festival I attend regularly has a kids & families programming track, but the quality and age options vary greatly, and parents frequently seem to feel it’s meant as a babysitting service. Many places don’t even have that though – kids are discouraged from attending, or there’s nothing for them to do at all, so parents are stuck figuring it out themselves.

Would it be so hard to have a kids’ area with activities? Little mini workshops?  Are there any festivals out there that do an amazing job of putting together stuff for kids to do? What would an awesome kids’ program look like at a festival?

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