Joyous Mutual Mayhem
It is quite a scene in our ward: the second the organized Mutual activities are over the kids are sprinting down the hall to get to the gym. Once inside a joyous noise erupts. Kids gather in groups chatting loudly, some just hang out, spontaneous games of tag, touch football, half-court basketball, murderball (modified dodgeball), lightning and many other forms of childhood PLAY break out.
That is right, it is the rare state of modern childhood called PLAY.
Personally, it is my favorite time at Mutual. In this era of over-scheduled, hyper-achieving, stressed out kids, I take great pleasure in seeing them participate in unstructured playtime. I strongly suspect for some of the kids, it may be the only non-planned, non-overly-supervised activity in their week. There is a lot of smiles and unbridled childhood joy in that 20 minutes.
Sure, there have been a few injuries, little kids get mowed over by a big kid chasing a ball. We have even had a broken arm. No shocker there, kids being kids sometimes get hurt. The inevitable calls to shut down the gym-time followed. More than a few minutes in BYC Meeting have been spent discussing it. It is obvious by my first paragraphs where I stand. I place high value on fostering childhood exuberance, and I staunchly defend the open-source play structure that has developed. I am rarely inflexible in any church problem solving, but I strongly feel the need to defend this free time. In the end I say to a parent who does not want their child in that field of mutual combatants, they should pull them out, but don’t ruin it for the entire group.
BTW, most adults gravitate to the gym as well, so there is ample oversite, but so far, cross my fingers, not an un-needed heavy hand of adult direction.
Please note – I have learned in my years in the YM presidency that structure and organization during the actual Mutual activity is critical, and means the difference between success or failure in every activity.