I'd like to tell you about my favorite of all the camps we do each year. But, we need a small preface. You know how easy it is for two people to find areas in which they disagree. Though there are some people that seem to relish conflict, most of us tend to avoid interacting with those we know we disagree with. For those in the first category, all I can say is wow...just wow. By nature I'm very much in the second category. But, I'm learning more and more that there is an alternative to avoidance. One that lets me interact with and learn from just about anyone. It's all about refocusing. Instead of letting our differences take center stage and separate us, what if we could focus on what we agree on and build from there?
What can we learn from a few simple beads running down a chute?
The Mentors & Makers camp I love most is The Bible Time Machine camp (the BTM camp). At its center is one of the most divisive topics known to man, Religion. But, instead of division, participating families of various faiths have found common ground. The BTM is an unrivaled visualization of the importance of being intentional:
- life is a brief opportunity
- few things work the way we want them to unless we plan carefully
- few plans come to fruition without diligent follow through
Please don't tell me there are any parents out there who don't look forward to the day when their kids learn these truths. The common appreciation doesn't stop there. The BTM is a Rube Goldberg machine of the best kind. It's a crazy, chaotic, noisy machine with a very clear purpose. It tells a story. If a picture is worth 1000 words, how much is a machine-analogy worth? I created the BTM camp so that kids of all religious backgrounds could come together in a non-threatening environment and share in a common experience. We can just about guarantee that every participant in the camp (including parents if they wish to participate):
- will be challenged creatively regardless of their design experience,
- will learn new tools and techniques for "making" from common scraps, and
- will come to appreciate teamwork at a whole new level.
These are valuable lessons we agree on.
But, now we come to one that I expect many will disagree with. You see, the design challenge is to "create a Rube Goldberg machine that tells the history of man according to the Bible." Get it? The Bible Time Machine? Two thirds of the machine highlights events from the Old Testament while the last third attempts to depict significant changes in the New Testament. How in the world could I expect non-Christians to appreciate this theme? Well, given the Judeo-Christian influences on our society, I believe it important (perhaps more so for those whose religion does not recognize the Bible as an inspired word of God) to understand the central message of the Bible. Participants need not agree with the principles of the Bible or agree on its authenticity. I'm hoping people of other faiths simply agree that it is important for us to understand what our neighbors believe. Religion doesn't have to be the divisive topic that makes us uncomfortable. Let's learn to build relationships with those around us...even with those who hold different beliefs. We can start by simply building a crazy RGB machine together.