SwanCon 18 – on Children’s Programming

The SwanCon 18 progress report 2 (March 1992) devoted an entire page to the topic of Children’s Programming. While some of it is pie-in-the-sky, and some couldn’t be done now (for legal reasons), as a historical commentary, it has some interesting things to say. (transcription: Anna Hepworth. All typos faithfully reproduced)

Children’s memberships are available for children from 5-15 years of age, and entitle children to attend the children’s or adults’ programming. Children’s programming is also available to undr-5’s, with a parent in attendance. Babysitting may be available for under-5s, if there are sufficient children in that age group, and/or parents are willing to pay reasonable babysitting costs additional to the children’s membership. If no babysitting happens, the under-5’s will be treated as Kids-In-Tow™ and will be free.

At present we are thinking along the lines of offering children’s equivalents to as many of the program items for adults as possible, and possibly even offering some activities jointly. That’s partly for organisational reasons, and partly because we think that children’s programming should be fannish/SFnal.

Following from that, it’s hoped that we could offer a program on a similar responsibility basis as the aduilt program: we aim to offer activities that children would find interesting, and perhaps an activity room with resources available to them if the programmeditem is not to their taste, but with responsibility for attendance and behaviour negotiated between parents and children, rather than devolving upon the children’s programmer or those offering a program item.

The Children’s Resource Area would offer pens, paper, simple art gear, games, possibly a computer of computers and games, videos; we would hope to be able to negotiate at least one time a day when children can be supervised at the pool.

Joint Adult/Children’s items may include a panel on the Art of Storytelling, with how-to hints and a chance to try the out; How to do Rôleplaying; Designing Aliens; Creating a Comic; a session on Model-making, hands on and large scale, using recycled materials; a session on Painting, including both T-shirt and fabric painting and model painting; Filking, how to do it, and some well known favourites; Author’s readings – perhaps of material they think of as suitable for children, but how many of us “adults” glory in “children’s literature”?; a multi-user computer set up with an interactive game; and ongoing Easter Egg hunts as part of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Bake Sale.

Special Children’s sessions may include presentations by W.A.’s SF clubs, Westrek, the Dr Who Fan Club, the SCA or related groups (not including weapons or displays of fighting), and presentation by interested gaming groups. Other activity sessions might include Costume-making, leading up to a daytime Masquerade for the children, a Fan Olympics/Fannish Games session, and Creating a Fanzine (writing might run through the early part of the convention, and production and collating at a couple of programmed sessions so that the resulting zine could be distributed during the convention; child members could, of course, bring contribultions written/drawn beforehand).

Resources: as much as possible we’d like to use resources from within the fan community or draw on sources like CATS Unrubbish for materials, and of course welcome any contributions of resources and ideas anyone may have-contact Susan Margaret or Sally Beasley.

Sally Beasley

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