While I live in London Ontario these days, I’m originally from Victoria BC. Most of my family still lives in Victoria so running the Make U summer camp at UVic gave me some time to see my family (which after the past several years of either living abroad in or Ontario happens less often than I’d like).
While neither of my parents would likely identify themselves as makers, they both possess a love of working with their hands and artistic spirits (as anyone in London who has seen my mother’s beautiful quilled cards can attest). Growing up I never really enjoy working with my hands. While my parents would be outside working in their garden or building various carpentry projects, I generally preferred to stay inside keeping my hands clean.
Since rediscovering the joys of actually building things I’ve come to appreciate my parents’ attempts to engage me in practical learning. I now realize that my father didn’t make me help him fix the car because he wanted to torture me, but because he knew how important a basic mechanical understanding would be later in life.
As a kid it’s easy to want instant gratification – watching tv is fun, helping my dad fix a broken drain isn’t. The thing about instant gratification is that it doesn’t pay off in the long run. I hardly remember any of the tv shows I watched as a kid, but remembering how to change a tire continues to be useful.
Having my parents help in the organizing of Make U was a real trip down memory lane. One of our activities was built around converting a ceiling fan into a DIY Matrix-style camera (see more about this activity in the coming days). My father’s electrical knowledge was essential in getting this project done and making me confident that we wouldn’t electrocute any of our campers. Spending a couple afternoons building the camera rig reminded me of the good old days of be volun-told to help him around the house.
Even the colourful local swap-meet that I used to dread being dragged around as a child proved to be an essential part of our camp planning. The Western Speedway Swap & Shop is a Victoria institution. At it dozens of vendors from around the city set up in a stock car track selling various goods. When we needed to find cheap sink drains for our DIY lightsabers, we found exactly the number we needed at exactly the price we were willing. Now instead of hating the idea of going, I wish there was one I could go to in London.
For me Make U was a blending of the life I left behind in Victoria with the life I’ve built in London. It really made me appreciate things I didn’t understand as a child. While we at the MakerBus like to extoll the virtues of maker sites like Instructables, Lifehacker, and Make, sometimes the best lessons are made by family.
Here’s a brief video our the first test of our ceiling fan GoPro rig (if you look carefully you can the entire MakerBus team and my family). Stay tuned for a post about how it worked in the camp and our plans for improvements.