A Window Into The World Of Our Children - Let Me Introduce You To 'THE ARROW HEAD GANG'
ARROW HEAD GANG (AHG) Members:
- Lily, 9 years old
- Ralphie, 2 years old
- Oscar, 8 years old
- Ava, 10 years old
- Jack, 6 years old
- Rhys, 7 years old
- Ameka, 9 years old
Lily and Ralphie are my children. Oscar, Ava & Jack are siblings in the house on our left, and Rhys and Ameeka are siblings in the house on our right. Two-year-old Ralphie tries to keep pace with the older kids and has success most of the time.
The AHG play outside most days.
There are other children in the area, some are the same age but live too far away. Some are older and not interested in outdoor play anymore, instead being more invested in indoor activities.
This friendship group of keen outdoor players has been on my mind for nearly four years now. It has taken this long for the group to bond and for the AHG to form.
I estimate it has taken two years to build the solid friendships between the kids, along with their love for outdoor play, as well as the necessary trust between the parents, who have allowed these friendships and freedoms to grow.
Most of all it has taken truckloads of effort, lots of hard work, constant planning, intense negotiation, lots of frustration, plenty of arguing, some yelling, buckets of tears, a few bandaids and even fewer threats of giving it all up by every one of the members.
But the AHG are a tenacious, resilient and motivated lot.
They have succeeded in creating a local gang of friends and I could not be prouder of them for staking a claim on their childhood.
From my observations it seems like they all feel they have ownership over the Arrow Head Gang.
The AHG teach each other so much.
Everyone fills their individual niche, has their strengths, and their weaknesses, and everyone has something to contribute. They each feel wanted and valued – well, most of the time!
At the risk of sounding old, my childhood was a series of gangs.
For the record I am not talking about Cribbs, Bloods, Skin Heads or gangs known for weapons, violence, vandalism, hooliganism and being an outright public nuisance - although if I’m honest there were elements of public nuisance in my childhood!
Gangs in this instance mean young kids forming friendship groups and roaming together around neighbourhoods, green spaces, parks, streets, from friend’s house to friend’s house.
In these gangs we had a keen sense of belonging while we learnt to negotiate our neighbourhood and the often complex world of human relationships.
Our gang was our extended family and we became each other’s unofficial carers. We learnt about diversity, difference, respect and acceptance as we lived out our childhood, roaming our neighbourhood.
We roamed in safety, in a pack, supported by each other’s companionship.
We did dangerous things too, silly things, things we would not want our kids to do - but we survived to tell the tale, and we learnt lots from these experiences such as risk management and consequences of action.
We encouraged each other, pushed each other to go further, motivated each other and found our limits.
We fought, argued, negotiated and debated, lost our tempers plenty of times and stormed off.
We also made-up, said sorry, learnt the value of humility and forgiveness and the art of compromise because we valued our friendships.
We learnt that one good friend was all you need, but a gang of good friends amplified the opportunities for fun and adventure even more.
Our local knowledge of our areas and our connections were strong. We honed our instincts. We knew the dangerous and safe places to go. We developed an ownership of our neighbourhood to the point that we felt responsible for it, and we wanted to protect our local culture because we were a part of it.
The neighbourhood became a significant part of who we were.
And this is what is happening for the AHG
Relevant to their ages, the AHG are free to explore what is important to them through play and the parents give them the freedom to roam the neighbourhood, deepen their friendships and plot their adventures.
As a grown man, I long for the friendships, trials and triumphs of those days. I long for the regular connection with my friends, the adventures, the laughter and fun.
And most importantly I long for this type of experience for my children.
For our kids to know a world in which they helped create. To know in their hearts, with effort and motivation, they can achieve and be anything they want. To experience the magic and wonder of the natural world. To know the value of friends and how to be a good friend themselves. To learn about themselves. To develop a keen sense of identity and trust in who they are and what they can do. To know in their hearts the places and spaces to which they belong.
This is what we learnt when we played in our neighbourhood gangs, and this is what my children are experiencing in the Arrow Head Gang.
So welcome to the adventures of The ARROW HEAD GANG.
They and their parents have agreed to let you into their worlds, and you’ll be hearing from them directly about their experiences playing outdoors.
They are excited about the possibility of more kids playing and their GANG getting bigger.
By sharing the ARROW HEAD GANG’s games, adventures and thoughts on Nature Play QLD activities we hope to inspire the formation of more Neighbourhood Gangs throughout Queensland, resulting in lots of healthy, active and developmentally essential outdoor free play.
It is inspiring for us to hear your stories - so if you have or know of a neighbourhood gang of kids who play-out regularly, please share it with us.
Nature Play QLD
Introduction to Arrow Head Gang: