My Time in Wonderland

Hi, my name is Eugene.

I am from Johannesburg, where everyone seems to either be in a rush or perpetually late for a meeting they wish they’d never set up or agreed to attend. Although I was born and bred in the city, my heart lies in the countryside.

Moving to White River, a somewhat small world with large potential for the appreciation of life itself was indeed, a major switch for me.

My previous occupation is more so the reason, I feel, I’ve been honoured with the opportunity to a part of the Freerange Community.

You see, just under a year ago, I was the Head Counselor at an American-styled summer camp for children between the ages of seven and seventeen. My job, simply put, was to ensure that all the counselors were doing their best to ensure that the campers were having the best time and were well taken care of.

My experience at Freerange has been, in one word, wonderful. In the past four years, I’ve met and interacted with – literally – thousands of children, from all over the world, so it’s safe to say that I’ve met my fair share of little Einsteins and Da Vincis. There is no better way to describe the feeling of listening to a conversation between two eight year-olds about why determination is key to complete any given task – it’s simply, wonderful.

Giving credit to SDE; I’ve been fortunate enough to form individual relationships with each member at Freerange, learning more and more about their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses and I can honestly say that this environment, this wonderland, is evidently one marvelous method of educating oneself while educating others that are also being educated!

I’ve observed quarrels on the playground that were quickly hashed out after an open and honest conflict resolution technique used by the Freerange members themselves! The idea that these children have the capacity to find and solve their own conundrums should be exclaimed from the Mpumalanga mountain tops. To me, it is an indication of the level of intelligence lurking within the growing minds of our future generations and that? That gives me hope and excites me for tomorrow.

In conclusion, in the month and a half that I’ve been at Freerange, I am incredibly impressed with what I’ve seen. Considering that this is a community for the kids, by the kids. They make the decisions, they draw up the rules, the create and most importantly, they learn through play. They teach each other and they teach the facilitators (including myself) each day.

I am inspired by this atmosphere. I wake up every morning with a motivation I can’t shake because I love to learn and I believe, given the relevant environment – one can learn much more from a person half their age than they can from a person twice their age.

I’m elated to be involved in all the wonder that is Freerange!