Snow Fort Ethics

Nicole Rogers

Snow Fort Ethics

2 min.
January 11, 2022

The first big snow fall of the winter covered the school playground in early December and with it brought new adventures for the recess gang. I happened to be filling in on recess duty that whimsical day. The playground equipment glistened with a thick coat of snow making it look exciting, inviting and even more fun for the kiddos. I loved watching the students play in the snow. Some made snowmen, some rolled snowballs into snow boulders and some kids just flopped down in the snow and rested there with little limbs outstretched taking in the whole frozen experience. 

It brought back such wonderful memories of growing up in Owen and Withee. I went to both the Withee grade school and the old Owen grade school. I remember taking my ice skates to school at the Withee School and zooming along the ice covered black top behind the school. We played king of the hill and threw snow balls and made awesome snow forts. Now I am not advocating that school kids begin throwing snowballs at each other or try to knock each other off a tall snow bank, especially since I occasionally fill in for recess duty. Those on recess watch have enough to worry about which makes me suddenly appreciate the recess ladies of my school days. They really had their hands full. I recall having Mrs. Arlene Smith and Mrs. Lorrie Smith both ladies were kind but firm and really knew how to brandish a whistle.

Now back to that first snowy day, when I was one of those recess ladies, the kids had erected a regular snow fort kingdom. I went from fort to fort inspecting the structures and the kids gave me the scoop on each one. As per usual at recess time, there was drama. One boy was frustrated because the kids from the previous recess had stolen some of the boulders from his fort and his group was busy rebuilding the walls. I felt for their plight but tried to keep out of the conflict. I then ventured over to another snow fort complex. I met another boy who in the past I had a rather unpleasant experience. I had instructed this boy to keep off the grass since he was not wearing boots and he gave me some guff. This time when he saw me he obviously remembered our encounter snidely asked “What do you want?”  I ignored his bucky attitude and just said, “What are you building?” 

He immediately dropped his disgruntled tone and proudly exclaimed it was Lambeau Field. I said I was impressed with the fort and watched as  his crew continued to add snow boulders to the structure. They too had suffered the destruction of boulder thieves. He went on to fill me in on this issue and how mad it made him. As we were discussing the injustice of it all, a girl came over from across the playground carefully holding a large boulder. She said she took this from another fort and rationalized since they had been stolen from it was only fair. This boy who at our first few meetings was quite rude to me, said something that melted my heart.

He said, “No, take that back. We don’t steal from others just because they stole from us.”

I have to say, that gave me renewed hope for our youth and gratitude for our teachers for instilling a sense of ethics in our students. Sure, this boy may have learned “two wrongs don’t make a right” from home but I have witnessed many of the teachers at Owen-Withee who not only teach the basics but also ethical behavior. Well, done. There are many adults who could learn from this boy’s snow fort ethics. Wouldn’t this world be a more peaceful place if there was less tit for tat and more building forts of kindness.

Special note: My prayers go out to Grandma’s Dirt columnist Darleen Jarocki and her husband Tony as they endure some very heart breaking health issues. You are in my thoughts and prayers, may God be with you and your family.

This article was orginally reported by
Nicole Rogers

Nicole Rogers, lives in Owen, WI, and is the co-editor for the Sentinel & Rural News.