Tinkering School NC Director - Don Watkins
My first tinkering experience was in the middle of the night, troubleshooting an engine while upside down on my head, soaked with diesel fuel in a 120 F engine room while bouncing around in 8 foot seas sailing a 56 foot sailboat to Trinidad. Could I "McGyver" it so we could safely make landfall, I wondered? (Don't worry, I don't subject kids to this level of pressure!)
However since becoming a parent, I’m amazed at what kids are truly capable of – if given the time, a bit of know-how to start, and some safety boundaries.
After reading Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do), I was hooked on the idea of kids tinkering. I thought, "this book should have been given to MY parents when I was a kid!". That started our conversation with Tinkering School in San Francisco...
Tinkering School is a non-rushed, non-competitive environment. Kids learn real world “how-to” skills and application – plus develop emotional skills (collaboration, cooperation and more). Activities are structured to promote imagination and thinking outside-of-the-box. Kids do not learn prescribed formulas, because in the real world there is always more than one way to solve a problem. Practicing at creative problem solving definitely prepare kids for the working world - plus pursuing their own dreams!
After 8 years in the Caribbean yachting industry, we “swallowed the anchor” and moved to North Carolina in 2007 just in time for the birth of our first son. Living aboard yachts, we were immersed in nature and the elements around the clock, and we believe being outdoors is like looking through God’s window. Awe, wonder, and beauty abound. It is our passion for our children to experience the outdoors and tinkering in a very real and authentic way, and for our family to meet and share these experiences with other families and children from all walks of life….
We have no TV or video games in our home and at Tinkering School NC. We want kids to know where eggs come from (and eat fresh ones too), witness ewes birth lambs, plant seeds and watch them explode with life, kiss and hug llamas, dig in the dirt every single day, and build imaginary kingdoms from pine straw and pebbles, and 2 X 4's.
Our goal is to help kids live the childhood they are meant to – and not rush it. Without the distractions of the modern life, kid’s innate sense of wonder and imagination takes over, and they savor simple treasures, learn new things, and enjoy carefree timelessness. The perfect canvas for tinkering!
Whether your child is pre-school age (SunStarFarm.com) or school age (JordanLakeBoatingCamp.com) and (NCtinkeringschool.com), our programs are designed to delight and educate, and provide the highest standard of quality care, safety, and encouragement for your child to grow. 2018 was our sixth year of Tinkering School NC - and look forward to making 2019 our best one yet!
At the end of a fun day, our simple wish is that families go home closer to their children. Our yachting travels make for good sea stories, but pale in comparison to the wild adventure of parenthood and business ownership – we love what we do! We are very honored to have a place in your child's life to help them grow and thrive...
Don & Heidi Watkins
Our Camp Philosophy
We operate from a few basic assumptions:
Kids are more capable than they know
The use of real tools to tackle real problems creates a unique atmosphere of trust and responsibility. From eight-year-olds to twelve-year-olds, we empower our tinkerers with tools, autonomy and space. Big responsibilities build competency and leave lasting memories.
The freedom to fail is essential
Every project has setbacks and often ours happen to be spectacular. If it goes right the first time, you’re just learning how to follow instructions. A failure-positive atmosphere allows children to play in the face of adversity.
It can be done bigger and bolder
When we make abstract art, we do it by dropping paint-filled balloons from the rafters in our ceilings onto a bed of nails or laying down a 10ft by 30ft piece of photo scrym and dancing on it. When we build, we create 10 feet of rollercoaster track with a self-aligning cart or 25ft towers that let us touch the ceiling of the school. Every week is different and each after school session is new. We can promise this: we make big art, we build big things and we go amazing places.
Apex, NC by Jordan Lake
On the Founder of Tinkering School...
Gever Tulley founded Tinkering School in California in 2005 in order to learn how children become competent and to explore the notion that kids can build anything, and through building, learn anything. A self-taught computer scientist with no formal education who holds multiple technology patents, Gever’s expertise is really in… thinking. Gever has taught workshops and made presentations to both kids and adults, around the world. He has spoken at TED twice, written articles for MAKE:, and authored the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).