Remembering Robert and his friends

It was a beautiful day here today in Braidwood, New South Wales.

The day before ANZAC Day.

Outside the 134 Coffee Shop, there were some brochures produced by the Braidwood RSL. I sat down with my two grandchildren, Ivy and Jolyon to read about Robert Geelan.

Robert was one of the 88 young men that left Braidwood for the First World War and did not return. (Braidwood RSL has a record of each of these young men in a project completed in 2015.)

Robert was 32 when he died in Belgium at the Menin Road on 20 September 1917. He enlisted on 31 July 1915 and was one of three members of his family (his father and brother were the other two) that went to the battlegrounds of the First World War.

Robert was from the Araluen valley near Braidwood a very long way from the Menin Road. Robert was wounded on the Western Front in 1916 but returned to the front lines.

The brochure gave the three of us the opportunity to talk about Robert and what it must have been like to be so far from home. Ivy and Jolyon think Araluen is a very long way from Braidwood so Robert’s journey was unimaginable. I explained that he also travelled by ship to get there.

Ivy and Jolyon will be walking in the ANZAC parade tomorrow with their school friends. This year they will be thinking about a boy from Araluen that left for Europe 103 years ago with his friends.

Photo Credit

Araluen Valley (Grahemec, CC BY-SA 4.0)

That coaching feeling

My granddaughter, Ivy, and I went to our first out-of-town swimming carnival together. The event, for junior schools in and around Goulburn, was held at the Yass Memorial Swimming Pool (also know as the Yass Olympic Swimming Pool).

Ivy’s home pool is 18 metres, Yass is 50.

We had the best part of two hours in the car across country to chat, talk about excitement and nerves.

Ivy has had the good fortune of having swimming lessons with Sharon Blinco at Braidwood. This has given her a great technical introduction to swimming.

We arrived early enough for Ivy to have a ‘warm up’ swim. It was a cold start but Ivy had an opportunity to come to terms with a finishing wall that was 32 metres further than her home pool.

Ivy was swimming in the 50 metres freestyle early in the event. I mentioned to her what ‘marshalling’ was and asked her to look at the start of a couple of races to make sure she was aware of being called to the start and the signal to start.

Whilst Ivy was off with her school friends, I watched some of the early relay races. I saw three swimmers who got me thinking how I might work with them. They stood out amongst their peers.

The coaching feeling I had was about how I might structure their learning environments and how Ivy would flourish in their company through observational learning and conversation.

For a while I was off exploring that coaching feeling. Then it was Ivy’s race.

She swam beautifully, a very long way. She was exhausted after the 50 metres but was radiant with the glow of achievement.

That set me off again about how as a coach I might induct young people into the joy of play and their journey into competition if they wished.

We stopped for pancakes on the way home. Great recovery food … but that was a conversation for another time.

Supporting playfulness

I was fortunate to spend three days in Penguin, Tasmania over Christmas.

At the west of the town is Johnson’s Beach. I was particularly interested in the layout of the beach area in the context of ongoing discussions in my home town, Braidwood, about how to create play spaces within the town’s heritage area.

There is a skate park at Johnson’s Beach.

I liked the clarity of the code of conduct there:

and the guidelines:

The signs and the space were very well kept and exemplified the ‘RESPECT’ invitation of the signage.

Around the corner from the skate park are some exercise machines (Fit for Parks). They have a beautiful outlook to the west.

The machines are well maintained, have very clear instructions for use and include a QR code for each station that links to a video for further information.

When you have finished the work out or the skate and scooter manoeuvres, there is a place to relax and enjoy the view.

I thought the facilities at Johnson’s Beach were exemplary. Their co-location made it possible to have an inter-generational space. We were there during the school term and saw a small number of young people use the skate park (on scooters). We did see people using the exercise stations and I saw two people use their smart phones to check out the exercises.

The area was very clean and I had a sense that there was a shared responsibility for its upkeep and appearance.

I do think that examples like this can support the conversations we are having in Braidwood about creating play spaces for young people whilst acknowledging the concerns some people have about the town’s heritage.

Photo Credits

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)