Programming Outside Your Comfort Zone

I am not good at crafting or art. I’ve always kind of known this, but it has come into sharp focus now that I have a year of programming under my belt. What crafts I do plan tend to end up mediocre at best. Thankfully, many of my other abilities are solid – I can do gaming, I can do fandom stuff, book clubs and more. However, I’ve discovered that I can still run a craft program and have it be a success with a few failures under my belt.

See, the key, I’ve figured out, is two fold. First, that you don’t have to be good at something necessarily to run a program on it and keep your budget low (this being said, anything truly artsy, I have a local woman who comes in and does them – we’ve done two Paint Nights/Paint and Sips but for teens so far and she’ll be back in March to do a clay program). Second, that sometimes less planning is more.

Last week, I ran a ‘Fandom Jewelry’ program, because my Advisory Group had requested it, especially Percy Jackson necklaces. Thankfully, the internet provided an easy way to make them – wooden beads, leather straps and sharpies. I then looked up a few other fandoms from Doctor Who to Star Wars and most required either more time or ability than I possess. So, I bought a variety of items at the local craft store – the pieces to make the Percy Jackson necklaces, plus some small plastic animals (fantasy and dinosaurs because they easily hooked into fandoms) and eye hooks, pulled out a glue gun and a few other random supplies I had lying around and explained to them that they could make whatever they wanted fandom related. And the results were amazing! They got even more creative than I could have hoped for and they had a blast doing it. A similar thing happened during the craft we do with our middle school book club.

My point is this: we hear all the time that STEM is all about the process and not the product and I’ve found that I do the best craft programs when I let them take a variety of supplies – sometimes bought with a specific product in mind – and let them make whatever they want within an overarching theme. Not only do they seem to enjoy it more, but the products that come out are amazing instead of mediocre or plain don’t work.

I figure this same mindset might be useful for other program ideas too. Just because something is not your specialty does not necessarily mean you aren’t entirely capable of running a program based around it. One of the great things about the people we serve is that they are both very creative in their own right and physically capable of making that come to fruition. They can use that glue gun and cut the thread with their own scissors. Is there some type of programming you’re scared of or struggle with? Try stepping back a bit and let them take the lead when they get there.

Hopefully this can help you too.

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