Pirate puns aside though, the arts are so incredibly vital to our society and preservation and promotion of the arts is essential to our progress as a society. They spark creativity, inspire innovation, and give us an outlet to express our humanity.
Today, I went to a children’s day camp at the Austin Nature and Science Center. It was “Pirate Day.” This meant the 7-8 year olds wore parrots on their shoulders, went on treasure hunts, and made construction paper and yarn eye patches.
My mission– to be Captain Swashbuckler, their pirate guide. I told some jokes (admittedly all revolving around the letter arrrrr), answered some basic pirate questions (such as “where do pirates poop on the ship?”), and hosted a pirate jig competition.
Granted, it was difficult to steer the conversation away from Johnny Depp and rum, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience. The kids relished the opportunity to be scurvy sea dogs for a few hours.
One child in particular, was sitting by himself, far from everyone else when I first entered the crazy room. The counselors told me Tyler didn’t want to participate in anything. Well that wasn’t going to fly on Captain Swashbuckler’s watch. Eventually we reached an agreement that if he could hold Captain Swashbuckler’s parrot, he would reluctantly join the group.
Things didn’t really change, though, until Tyler got an eyepatch, a face-paint beard, and a cardboard sword. Tyler the angsty 8-year-old was a handful to say the least, but first mate Tyler was awesome, well behaved, and engaged.
And at the risk of going all “drama therapy” on you, I think all Tyler needed was a little change of costume. I mean, how can you be mad when you’re making a pirate sword out of a refrigerator box and tin foil? What can you possibly have to worry about when you have a pointy pirate mustache and a pocket full of construction paper doubloons?
So I could hit you with statistics from the US Department of Education that state “experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development.” I could tell you that according to a Harris Poll 84% of people agree that exposure to arts “can help students be more successful in subjects such as math or science.” I could also mention that “97% of employers say creativity is becoming increasingly important” in this economy according to a 2008 study from the Conference Board and Americans for the Arts.
But I won’t.
I’ll show some pictures of some up-and-coming pirates and guarantee you that these kids are better off even for something as silly as pirate day.