The Rubbish Club
What began as a simple child minding exercise one Saturday afternoon has quickly turned into something more powerful. It’s never too soon to instill a sense of civic duty in our young people and remind them that it is up to us to take charge of our own destiny.
Always one to multi-task, it made perfect sense to walk the dog and kids at the same time when my daughter asked me to take them off her hands - something about them driving her crazy? Together we drove a short distance into the nearby State Forest and I duly let loose the dog (muzzled) and kids (unmuzzled) to burn off some energy.
Mountain bike riding has become increasingly popular in recent years and, as a matter of courtesy, I’ve been gradually picking up pieces of broken glass off the tracks and placing them in piles ready for collection. Armed with gloves and a strong bag I set out to retrieve these items not expecting the kid’s enthusiasm to last long.
‘Can we help?’ was the immediate response of my two little charges. Retrieving two more bags from the ute they were given the task of picking up the soft rubbish we encountered along the trail.
They loved it!
By the following weekend some of their friends had heard about ‘The Rubbish Club.’ The two kids I knew were joined by five more ranging between five and eight years. While my daughter sped away as fast as she could, one brave parent remained to help muster the kids. Thank you Alex!
A couple of sullen faces revealed that they had been dragged along to join their younger more gullible siblings, but it was great to watch them suddenly become excited about exploring the bush, stopping to ask about fungi and animal scat. Finding rubbish was a bonus.
The older kids were soon expanding their search zone and adding car tyres to our stash (oh joy of joy!). The barrow I’d thankfully brought along on this expedition was soon overloaded. We returned to the ute for drinks and fruit, unloaded and set off again on a new track. What I thought would be a brief exercise turned into nearly two hours with me being the one deciding to pull up stumps.
‘Can we do it again tomorrow?’ asked one eight-year-old who had been reluctant to come. Hmmm, perhaps not tomorrow, I replied still contemplating how I was going to dispose of the rubbish already gathered.
Our Rule #1 was ‘Don’t tell your parents what we get up to,’ but I forgot to add teachers.
This coming Monday morning the six-year-old has been invited by her School Principal to speak at assembly. Apparently, she has suggested that The Rubbish Club should become a school wide activity!
Tips for anyone contemplating a similar exercise:
Warn kids not to pick up sharp objects like glass and tin. But, with their young eyes, they make excellent spotters so that the adults can pick up these dangerous items.
Water and fruit help keep energy levels high (don’t forget a bottle of water to wash hands).
Think about the seasons and when spiders and snakes are active. Educate accordingly.
I have since discovered that large items like tyres should be left at an easily located point and, if you notify your local DEWLP (State Forest) or Parks Victoria office, they will arrange for a hard rubbish collection.
KERRY ANDERSON is founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business’ Rather than child minding she much prefers to work with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Regional Agents of Change. READ MORE