From our inception in 1995, Four Quarters has always seen children as our bridge to the future. If you are in the business of building Stone Circles, you learn to think in the long term.
And we feel it is important that all of us take responsibility for the children, for we all have a role to play in nourishing their growth. Both as one time children and as parents ourselves. Especially important at Four Quarters are the contributions of our Gay and Lesbian Members, and others who by choice or circumstance do not themselves have children. For they are the Aunts and Uncles of our extended family, and theirs is an honored part of our tradition.
In our early years, we always maintained a large children's care and programming track at Four Quarters, and it was well received. But as time went by the number of children at our gatherings increased while their attendance in child care decreased. It seemed that as we grew and evolved the community of Members and Guests were naturally taking on these responsibilities, far better than we ever could.
And so a phenomena was born that has since been named "The Kids Tribe." They bound through the woods and always seem to know who has the hot dogs.
We have been here long enough now, that we have seen the chubby child grow into adulthood. We have married the couple that met at a Drum Circle and then passed their new baby through the Mother Stone... and into the arms of our community. And that child now plays and runs in the sunlight of the High Meadow.
In a few more years to learn and love for themselves; and take their own place in the Web of Life.
The Kids Tribe
by Patricia (Robin) Woodruff
Dripping from a refreshing swim in Hemlock Hole, I sat on the thick branch of a tree overhanging the water, watching my kids playing with the other children. The sun was shining down through the Hemlocks, turning everything a shimmering green and gold. Having brought down our raft and pool toys, the children were climbing on, under and over them, playing some game of "sharks" that they had just made up. The drone of cicadas was punctuated by the sounds of their laughter. Somehow a frisbee had gotten tossed to the adults in the water and it was now flying about. No... make that two frisbees. A few other folks were laying on towels around the edge of the stream enjoying the warm sunshine. Off in camp I heard someone start up an impromptu drumbeat and then someone else joined in. I thought to myself, that if anyone needed an image of Eden, then this was it. Laughter and sunlight and music.
Of course it had rained the day before. The kids had put on their ponchos and gone up for a warm cup of cocoa at the Coffee Dragons pavilion. Mama and Papa Dragon are another set of grandparents for all the kids and acted the part. Reminding them to wash their cups when they were done; rocking babies to sleep; applying band-aids when needed and helping to find lost parents. Cameron (my eldest) wanted to sculpt a little dragon out of Fimo clay for "The Dragons". He said, "Because I just want to be nice to them. Number one, they're a great place to chat and for another, they give the cocoa and coffee away for free. I want to give them something." That reminded me that I wanted to put a donation in their jar too.
The kids had come back from Coffee Dragons with the news that the drum workshop I wanted to attend was going to be the following day, because of the rain. Cori said that she had a really nice conversation with a lady about knitting. "I said I would show her the scarf I was working on. We also talked about babies cause she had a new one. And I met some new kids and I told them to meet up at the stage. I just wanted you to know where I'd be." She grabbed a bagel and off she ran to meet her newfound friends.
The rain had stopped by the time we met up with the kids again. Cameron had grabbed our plates from camp and joined us in the dinner line for the Starving Artist. We talked about our day over a wonderful vegetable beef stew (of course, Cameron just loaded up on the pasta instead.) The kids had started up a Harry Potter game of magical duels, then had gone on to work on their own version of Rapunzel, where the Princess rescues the Prince from the tower. Woody and I had a chance to walk through the Merchants Green where I found a wonderful swishy skirt; I was looking forward to dancing in at Drum Circle that evening. Far off, we could see the kids playing at the other end of the field...
Breaking my reverie of the previous day, my dripping partner came over to steal the towel I was sitting on.
"What were you just thinking?" Woody asked.
"Just that I really love that this is such a great place for kids" I replied "They are their own Kids Tribe. And they are learning so much without even knowing it. They worked out the rules of that Harry Potter game, then when the younger kids got bored with that, they switched it to something that incorporated everyone. And when they got a little too rowdy, one of the adults came over and redirected them. It's a big extended family. When Cori went to help the adults out with building the sweat lodge, they didn't shoo her away because she's "only" nine. They had her hold the door rope, which turned out to be a great help and she felt very valued."
I added, "Cori told me that if she decides to get married, she's going to do it in the Stone Circle. The first ring of stones would be just about done by that time. If she has kids, I wonder what they will think of the place... The folks on the Board talk about keeping the Land for the Seventh Generation. I guess we're off to a good start teaching the second generation to care for the Land. Can you imagine our great-grandchildren playing in this stream, raising a stone or even just learning to drum?"
"Speaking of which..." Woody said, "I checked with Autumn's mom and she said she'd watch the kids at the swimming hole, if you want to get to that workshop."
I gave a glance at the kids happily swimming like otters and replied with a smile, "Let me go get my drum."