Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

19.1 Spending 6 Hours with a Senior Member


19.1: *Spending Six Hours With a Senior Member*

NoteThis activity is required to earn the Reaching Across Generations badge.

One of the most memorable assignments I had in high school was when our American History teacher had us each find and interview someone who had been our age during the Great Depression of the 1930s. I remember very little else specifically about that class and its assignments—other than that Mr. Bernota always tossed back and chewed on two dry aspirins to kick off the daily lecture—but that one assignment has always stuck with me, when Dad drove me across town and our interviewee poured out stories of growing up and day-to-day incidents that mirrored some of my own. The dry textbook pages in our history book were coming alive in ways I could directly relate to, and this 'old person' didn‘t seem so very old and history didn‘t seem so very remote anymore. (And when I do the math, that person who seemed so 'old' probably wasn‘t much older than I am today!)

Along with their parents, kids should spend at least six hours with a senior member, either visiting them for a whole day, or spread out in one-, two-, or three-hour segments. Try to match kids and senior members with similar interests, whether it be minerals, fossils, field trips, fluorescent rocks, lapidary arts, natural history museums, gem shows, or what have you.

Encourage kids to decide in advance what they would most like to talk about, but don‘t be overly prescriptive. A lot of the best stories and advice arises naturally in the course of everyday conversation. But to kick off that conversation and to prime the well, so to speak, it helps to have topics prepared and at hand that might be of mutual interest to the kids and their 'mentors'.

Or, even better, arrange for some specific activity, such as the junior member seeking the senior member‘s help identifying rocks or classifying fossils in the junior‘s collection, or help in cleaning and curating specimens, or a workshop and tips on crafting a cab or faceting a gemstone, or providing display tips for preparing an exhibit at the next club show or for a competitive exhibit at a federation show. Or turn the tables and have the junior member assist a club officer in his or her club duties. For example, the junior might assist the newsletter editor with the next issue of the society bulletin or the membership chair in preparing and sending a new member packet. Another possibility is for the junior and senior member to enjoy the next club field trip together, or for the junior to assist the senior member at the next club show at the kids‘ booth, snack bar, admission and welcome table, raffle station, or silent auction.

Be sure that, as a conclusion to this activity, kids send a thank-you note or card for the time spent together. Karen Nathan (mother of Erica, the junior member who created this badge unit) has worked with the juniors of Coquina Kids to create hand-made cards related to our hobby, with messages like 'You‘re a Gem!' or 'You Rock!' along with stick-on plastic rhinestones. Encourage your kids to craft similar handmade cards; they‘ll mean a whole lot more to the person receiving them.