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Editor's Note: Lots to Learn

By

DIANE SULLIVAN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Diane Sullivan ©️ Seven Days

D, B, A, Y, G, L, U: What's a word that uses all these letters? That's the question I kept asking myself the other day while playing the New York Times Spelling Bee game on my phone. I'd come back to the puzzle periodically, shuffling the letters and trying different combinations.

I've always loved word games and have even competed at Scrabble tournaments, but I stopped playing them in March 2020. For a year and a half, I focused on work, spending time with my family and getting us all through the pandemic.

Over the holidays, something shifted. Our relatives canceled their visit because of Omicron, and I had some downtime. I started playing the Spelling Bee game, and it became part of my daily routine. Each day, the Times serves up a different set of seven letters inside hexagonal boxes, with one letter in the center of the cluster. All the words have to use that letter. There are a limited number of possible combinations.

I tend to focus on figuring out the longer words, especially pangrams, which use every letter. There's always at least one. The more words you find, the farther you rise through the game's nine levels, from "nice" to "solid" to "great" to, finally, "genius."

I realized recently why I'm drawn to the game: It's helping me look at situations differently and find solutions that might not be obvious at first. And the euphoria of getting to "genius" or discovering a pangram gives me energy. I can harness that momentum to tackle one more challenge — like finishing this editor's note. Yep, this piece is brought to you by the word LADYBUG.

Two years into the pandemic, we've all developed new coping strategies — ways of getting ourselves and our families through this time and learning whatever lessons it has to teach us. For our kids, so much of that learning has happened outside of traditional classrooms.

Yet another unpredictable school year has made me pay closer attention to what my two teenagers are learning from nonacademic activities. I've seen them embrace music, sports, cooking, crafting and Dungeons & Dragons, all of which have enriched their lives in meaningful ways.

This issue of Kids VT is devoted to those kinds of extracurricular learning opportunities. Summer camps offer lots of them. Both Heather Fitzgerald and Benjamin Roesch write about standout local programs in "Good Nature" and "Musical Notes".

This issue is timed to coincide with our 25th annual Kids VT Camp and School Fair on Saturday, March 5, at the Burlington Hilton. You'll find write-ups on each of the camps and schools exhibiting at the fair, along with quotes from local kids about what they love about camp — and tips on how to pay for it.

Our other columnists look elsewhere for life lessons. In "Secondhand Style", Maria Munroe explains what she learned by thrifting with her mom. Cat Cutillo talked with tae kwon do teacher Kellie Thomas, a "Vermont Visionary" who found direction through martial arts. "Pop Culture" columnist Keegan Albaugh reflects on how his daughters have inspired him to work on lowering his stress level. Kids VT marketing and events director Corey Barrows gave birth last fall and learned more than she ever wanted to know about her pelvic floor — she shares some of that valuable insight in "Use Your Words".

We hope this issue inspires you to find creative ways to cope — and we hope to see you in person at the Camp Fair. Register for your free ticket at campfindervt.com.