Leap of Confidence

Sometimes you just have to step forwards and leap. No questions, no doubts, no looking back.” …at least that’s what The Internet™ says amongst the plethora of motivational quotes found all over social media.

Beginnings…

Wooden Gum Ball Machine workshop, October 2014. Kids using power saws with parent supervision. Photo by Brent Wettlaufer.

For nearly two years our family has been running MakerClub KW at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, Ontario. We founded it in 2013 as a place for kids and parents to explore different “dangerous” tools and learn new skills — safely.

We’ve taught kids as young as five to use sharp knives, power saws and soldering irons. We’ve built wooden gumball machines, silk-screened our club shirts and made blinking, colour-changing night lights.

We know what sawdust tastes like and we’ve listened to dozens of kids squeal while we launched rockets indoors. We’ve even broken toys on purpose just to see how they work inside.

Taking A Risk

Our goal all along has been to teach confidence and practical problem solving in addition to specific tools and construction techniques. We want to re-introduce some families to the concept of managed risk while giving others a framework for trying new things they otherwise might not. Sure, we’ve had a few minor burns and cuts in two years, but we’ve also reached hundreds of families.

After attending MakerClub for the last year my daughter now self identifies as a builder and a maker. Recently she wanted a crib for a doll. Instead of asking to buy one she asked what we had to make one! Solution: Cardboard shoe box with lid cut off. — Dinah Davis

Another mother recently wrote “[My daughter] confidently transfers her new skills outside of the club, from 3D printing at the library to using power tools in the backyard. I am also more confident mentoring her projects on our own.” As you can imagine, when we received these notes our hearts leapt. A few simple sentences succinctly validated everything we’ve been trying to achieve for two years.

In fact, it wasn’t only our hearts that leapt, so did our imaginations. We imagined a future where we invested more deeply in bringing this kind of a program to kids all day, every day. The challenge? Time. Full-time jobs prevented us from having the mental and physical energy to realize this future. The solution was both obvious and terrifying at the same time: quit our jobs.

The Leap

So we quit… and we started a new social enterprise called Tinker Truck.

The big reveal of our new logo! Shown: Cam Turner and his wife Tanya Morose.

We are calling this a “leap of confidence” around our house.

We’ve all heard the phrase “a leap of faith”; a time where you simply trust and believe that a higher power will guide you to success, health and happiness. In order to give our young kids some comfort and security for the transition we are describing “leap of confidence” as the self-assured certainty that hard work, determination, knowledge and passion will lead to great things.

To start, we’re participating in a full slate of kids events in the summer of 2015. We’re exploring what parents want, meeting educators, playing with kids and funnelling all of that into a clear and concise business plan for our first year.

The Plan™

We’re currently planning to provide a mobile maker lab that can travel to schools, libraries, community centres, corporate events and maybe even a birthday party or two. We will bring the tools, the lessons and the materials to wherever eager kids and parents want to make cool things and learn some new skills.

Along the way we will also learn new things and refine The Plan™.

We aren’t sure exactly how it will work in the long run and we know we aren’t alone in pursuing this passion by a long shot, but we want to participate and inspire. We want to create the future we want our kids to grow up in.

Most importantly, we want our kids to see that taking a risk and following your passion is more empowering than it is scary.

Follow us on our journey.

Cameron Turner can be found on twitter @camturner, @tinkertruck and @makerclubkw as well as on Facebook on the Tinker Truck page. Cam is also a co-organizer of the 2015 Waterloo Region Maker Expo.

If you found this article interesting please consider hitting the recommend button!