From beer-and-hymn sings to best selling speakers, there is plenty of fun for adults at the Wild Goose Festival, but folks often want to know what the experience will be like for their kids.
Well, meet the curator of the kid experience at Wild Goose, Jamie Rye. He started developing the kids program when the Wild Goose Festival was just a twinkle in a handful of folks’ eyes over five years ago. He’s been growing and managing it as a programming volunteer ever since.
“In the kids tent our primary focus is around three things: belonging (community), creativity and safety,” explains Jamie. “In its simplest form we want kids to walk away feeling belonging, like they were able to uniquely express themselves, that they were safe and a part of the bigger story unfolding from God through the Goose.”
The kids program provides a two-hour session each morning and afternoon of the festival. Equipped with a secure check-in system, the program is designed by Jamie and his wife Kelly and facilitated by a team of volunteers, all of whom have received a background check.
Age appropriate activities are offered, with extra time to play in the nearby playground for children under the age of 6. But, the program is anything but a babysitting service. The kids will enjoy intentional Flock Groups, creative arts, creative storytelling and movement in music.
Jamie is emphatic that the program would not be complete without the help of his volunteers. “In all my years of doing Goose I have had incredible volunteers. These are folks that have given up vacation time, given up sleep, and suffered through the heat of the day to create an engaging, creative, intentional and safe place for kids.”
“Last year we had a hand full of volunteers who deeply loved kids and truly caught the vision for the kids space at the Goose,” Jamie continues. “The leadership team took ownership over the program and put in lots of hours not only in prep, but also on the ground. They worked so hard to welcome families. From providing supplies for the kids’ graffiti wall to running an amazingly fun creative-arts stations. The kids had fun, they were safe and they walked away from each session a little more creative, a little more valued and a little more loved.”
He and his wife, Kelly, feel particularly drawn to Wild Goose: “Having been raised relatively-conservative evangelical we found that our progressive beliefs, ways of questioning and generous orthodoxy placed us on the outskirts of our subculture. Our lack of belonging was only amplified by the fact that I am a pastor in an evangelical denomination. The Goose brought us community, belonging and a safe place to embrace the good of our background and yet find space in a community that understood where we were coming from. I love that the Wild Goose creates the same safe space year after year for others like us.”
Thanks to Jamie and his team, safety and creative learning are also available to children at the festival, while their parents have time to go do some exploring on their own.
This year promises another great batch of volunteers to run the kids program, says Jamie. “I am excited to watch them engage the kids and for the kids to respond with their natural expressive, wild, child-like abandon.
“Kids have the most fun at Goose, the adults should come and learn from them.”