Mud Day Memories & Momentum

By Joyce Droney, Supervisor Child Development and Training Coordinator at the Lakehurst Child Development Program, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Lakehurst, New Jersey

“Look at the pictures; if I would have known it was so much fun, I would have joined you. Next year!”

“Next year we are definitely NOT taking our vacation when you do this and the whole family will be here to play.”

“I’m telling my work that I cannot be traveling next year and miss this day!”

What brought all these positive reactions and so many more from parents? MUD DAY 2012!

Celebrating International Mud Day this year with the one through five-year-olds at Lakehurst Child Development Program at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey was such a great time and we couldn’t have done it without support from parents, staff and of course MUD!

What did it take?: First and foremost, preparation. We invited our parents to attend the event and asked them to send their child’s oldest clothing. Then we took four large, heavy-duty tarps, an entire pallet of topsoil and water to make a muddy, appealing setting for the children to explore. Also, it took dedicated staff members and an understanding that some were uncomfortable with mud because they were never allowed to get dirty as children. They were the ones to hose children off at the end. Others embraced the experience and greeted the children by sitting in the middle of the tarps and “teaching” the children how to play with mud.

What did the day bring?: Smiles, fun, exploration and inventive games. We organized it so that the one and two-year-olds came out first. Then, after about 30 minutes, the older children joined before the younger children went inside. One girl in particular wore sparkle pink “wellie” boots and very proudly told me she was ready to play in the mud! After about three steps into the mud she turned to me and asked if I would help her take them off so she could feel the mud. I was a little taken back by the color of the clothing after “mud angles” and “mud splat” had been played by the children, along with many other ways they found to enjoy this new experience.

What was the outcome?: After everyone was cleaned up, all 266 Mud Day photos were printed and placed around the lobby and halls of the center. As parents came to pick up their children, they were greeted with their child’s smiles and the joy of the experience. Several parents understandably choose to get rid of the bag of muddy cloths right there, but (as you can tell from the reactions above) not one parent was sorry their child had been at the program to celebrate International Mud Day. We had two parents “play” with their child this year, but based on the comments we have received, next year I think we will have to buy more tarps!