Practice, Encourage, and Practice Some More

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When I was eight years old and my brother was five, our parents took us to Santa Claus Land in Santa Claus, Indiana. Back in the 1960s, before it became the modern Holiday World, Santa Claus Land was a tiny amusement park, smaller than a midway at a rural county fair in the boonies.

I have three vivid memories of our trip:

  • Somehow Steve and I got lost and wandered around alone for a while before our worried parents found us.
  • He and I had a ride on the child-sized Ferris wheel, which was so short Daddy probably could have touched its top if he stood on his tippy-toes.
  • Steve and I crawled inside an igloo, made not of ice, but of concrete.

I don’t know where I learned about Eskimos and igloos (at school and on television, I guess), but at eight years old I thought it was cool (pun not intended) to be in a model of an Eskimo house.

When I did the research for our lesson about the indigenous people of the Arctic and subarctic in America the Beautiful, I had a lot to unlearn! First of all, you don’t show respect to a Native Alaskan by calling him an Eskimo (they prefer Native Alaskan); and they have never lived in igloos, though they have used them as temporary shelters during hunts.

I was fascinated by what I learned in my writing, so being in Alaska among real natives was wonderful. One day soon I look forward to telling you what I learned about the older teaching the younger.

Ray’s and my first stop at the Native Alaskan Heritage Center in Anchorage was the amphitheater where we watched dances, heard traditional stories, and saw Native athletes demonstrate sports included in the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (though they are neither Eskimos or Indians, the “Eskimo” games have been held since 1961).

Traditional Native Alaskan sports are based on skills once needed in harsh Arctic and subarctic environments. In addition to the physical strength needed to compete, a major component of the WEIO is encouragement and sportsmanship.

Native Alaskans of the past had to be physically fit and have impeccable skills that they learned from their elders. In addition to that, they had to work together to survive. We heard that even today Alaskans (whether Native or of some other nationality) stop to help fellow motorists. Everyone must depend on their fellow man in remote regions with such cold temperatures!

It was a joy to look on and to listen as the fellow athletes watched one another intently, offering both encouragement and practical ideas to perform their sport better.

Ray and I were both amazed at the one-hand reach. An athlete holds himself up with only one hand while keeping his entire body parallel to the floor. He then reaches into the air to hit a ball suspended on a string. In the competition the ball and string are raised again and again as the athlete reaches higher and higher.

I would have loved to see a blanket toss demonstration, but with only three athletes on the program that day, I guess they were a little short-handed.

blanket toss library of congress
Blanket Toss, c. 1910

Now, there is cooperation for you. If people were bouncing me high into the air on a bunch of sewn-together walrus skins, I’d certainly want to be sure we were all cooperating!

As 113 actors and actresses, plus many adult helpers, work together to prepare a play to perform next weekend, we have to practice, encourage, and then practice some more.

Practice, encourage, and then practice some more–sounds like a day of homeschooling, doesn’t it? Aren’t you thankful you are right in the middle of such an effective way for your children to learn?

Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another,
just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB

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