They get an idea, measure the wood, pick up a hammer and start nailing. It’s the annual summer tradition of Hobo Jungle.
The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District offers the program to teach safety to 7- to 13-year-olds when working with tools. The day starts with a safety demonstration on what to do/not to do, explained Alie Van Heel, camp supervisor.
Then the kids break into groups and create their own flophouses, of sorts, using discarded wood of various sizes.
Mason Richert of Homewood with Kendyl Pugh and Cormac Saunders of Flossmoor were among the 32 campers at the first of three Hobo Jungle sessions. All agreed it’s a learning experience that’s “really fun.”
“This camp is all about safety,” Van Heel said. “They wear safety goggles every day. They saw with gloves. They know to put cork on nails (that stick out) for safety.
“Sometimes they’ll catch someone who isn’t following the rules and they’ll let them know they aren’t doing a good job,” Van Heel added.
Over the first week of camp, they saw and hammer, learn how to measure and construct. Campers figure out the best ways to support the walls so the structure can take on the weight of a roof or second floor. And then, they build a ladder to get to the top.
Final touches are put on the structures the following Monday so the flophouses are ready for Tuesday’s coat of paint. The kids get to show off their work at a party for parents Tuesday evening, Van Heel said.
They get one day to admire their handiwork before it all comes down. That’s part of the learning and safety process too, Van Heel noted.