Part of my work as a Labyrinth Facilitator is education and creation of (primarily
temporary) labyrinths.  What can be a better way ensure the future of the labyrinth?
One of the best ways to educate adults about labyrinths is to teach it to their
children.  It has been a statement of my lifetime that children are our future and I
agree with that very statement.  It is my belief that we can never start teaching the
children too soon.  One of the youngest walkers that I have observed is the one in
the picture below, this baby walked, well O.K. rode the labyrinth with her Dad.  I
never heard a peep from the baby and at the end of the walk she had fallen into a
very peaceful sleep.

A part of living into my statement of expanding and deepening the labyrinth
experience means  reaching out to areas that I have not worked extensively with
before in the labyrinth education and experience department.  I have done some
work with children and the labyrinth, usually I am in situations where I am observing
children and their interactions with the labyrinth.  In the past I have worked with
youth group leaders educating them by distributing materials and information for
them to educate the children prior to the labyrinth walk event.  My purpose in doing
this was to be sure the leaders understood the material and provided leaders a way
to present labyrinths to the group in a way the children could understand and relate
to it, adding their own experiences and how it relates to their church or
organization's environment structure into the preparation.

Observing has been a great way to learn and experience the labyrinth from a
different perspective.  I always enjoy working with children and the labyrinth
because my inner child gets to engage and connect with other children.  Children
bring such a pureness of heart, spirit and joy to our lives and to the labyrinth
experience.  Being a part of that in any way is always such a pleasure and a real
honor.  The energy that the children tap into and play with when walking the
labyrinth is like a step into the fountain of youth for an adult.  They teach us to  
remember that life is filled with joy and that we are to have fun along the way in the
inner and outer workings of our daily lives. At times I feel that as adults we forget
the importance of this as we get so wrapped up in the axle of routine day to day life.

Some of my favorite moments with the labyrinth have been with children.  One of the
first opportunities I had to observe children in the labyrinth was in 2000, a middle
school aged youth group came from another church to walk our labyrinth.   The
youth group leader briefly explained the labyrinth and its purpose to the group and
then they began their walk experience.  The only instructions that he gave them was
that at some point in time during their walk they needed to stop and have a deep
thought or moment and then they had to be willing to share that thought at the end
of the walk.  It was amazing to watch these kids in action as they were serious and
the seriousness then led to dancing, running, singing, skipping and playing in the
labyrinth.  In the midst of this going on some would stop to have a deep moment of
reflection and as quickly as they stopped they went right on to what they were doing
before.  It was wonderful to watch the interaction of the youth group leader and the
kids on the labyrinth that evening.  When I listened to the thoughts that the kids had
while walking I was amazed at what they had come up with.  Some of the thoughts
they got while walking the labyrinth in one evening were things that took me a year
to a year and a half of labyrinth walking before I got them.  Kids are absolutely
amazing of what they get from their walks in a short amount of time.

One event that I facilitated was for an Episcopal Church retreat at Shrine Mont
located in Orkney Springs,  VA.  My role as facilitator was to give an orientation
about the labyrinth once in the morning and once in the afternoon and to remain in
the room as participants walked and asked questions.  The children's play area was
in the same room as the labyrinth in between orientation sessions.   The children
asked just a few questions about what to do, I briefly explained and they instinctively
played and meditated on the labyrinth with no further instruction from me.  The
picture of the little girl walking the labyrinth is one of my classic favorites, she and
her friends were walking the labyrinth with the wooden finger labyrinth in their hand
and my pewter hand held labyrinth and they were doing both at once.  It was
amazing how they were able to coordinate walking with their fingers and feet at the
same time.  

Recently on  6/18/06 I taught the children at our Sunday School how to draw a
Classical 7 circuit labyrinth from the basic labyrinth seed pattern.  We practiced a
few times in the classroom and then we created 2 out in the church parking lot.  The
first one was small only large enough for one person to walk at a time, I had under
estimated the size when creating the seed pattern ahead of time.  This worked out
well because they decided to create an even larger one after finishing the 1st one.  
My instructions were simple in explaining the labyrinth to them as their Sunday
School teacher has been working with them about meditation.  Each child took a
different piece of chalk and took turns connecting the dots and lines to create the
labyrinth.  Before walking I explained that there were bubbles in the center of the
labyrinth, these bubbles were a representation of blessings.  As the child reached
the center of the labyrinth they were to blow bubbles representing their blessings
within that they were sharing with everyone else as the wind blew the bubbles onto
the children standing outside of the labyrinth.  It was neat to see how the bubbles
touched all.  To keep the children on the outside of the labyrinth interested and
focused, I instructed them to blow blessings onto the person who was walking.  So it
was a morning of spreading blessings everywhere.  After each person walked the
smaller labyrinth by themselves rather seriously once, the remaining times they
walked it became energized, silly, fun with lots of bubbles floating around.  We built
the 2nd labyrinth which was large enough for 2-3 to walk at once again each person
took turns with a different color chalk to connect the dots and lines.  They were
focused and serious during the construction phase and joyful during the walking
phase, I took the time to blow blessing bubbles on all of the children as they ran
through their walks at this point.  A good time was had by all that day.

For me this is what educating others of the labyrinth is all about.

Later I will add links to this page about programs for children that I have found on
the internet.
Children and Labyrinths