I work with an 11-year old boy, and as our relationship has evolved, so too have our monthly outings.
Initially we would take a walk to the nearby playground or library, and that was easy and nice. But I kept thinking I could do more to make the most of our time together. As we become more comfortable spending longer stretches of time together and I developed a trusted rapport with the foster family, I started branching out with slightly more exciting activities.
Thus far, we’ve enjoyed trips to the movies, the trampoline park, and the indoor rock climbing gym. His foster parents are older, and they don’t always have the energy for these types of outings – so I’m not sure how often he gets to do stuff like this. And, like many 11-year olds, he spends too much time on a screen/device.
It’s exciting to see him truly look forward to these trips with me – particularly the ones where he’s getting a much-needed dose of exercise and physical activity, in addition to the benefit of confidence and social dynamics he gets from partaking in challenges with other kids. I’ve seen him conquer the ninja course at the trampoline park after really hesitating over one aspect of it, and I’ve seen him reach the top of the climbing wall after a number of failed attempts – it was so gratifying to watch and I loved seeing the boost it gave him.
I’d like to continue to do more of these types of things with him – I’m exploring a hike, a nature walk, and swimming as future possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to sit in comfortable silence in a cool, air-conditioned movie theater munching popcorn, and we certainly have more of those afternoons in our future, but I think he needs more and I am happy to be someone who can provide that.