March “Tour” Madness!

We had an incredibly exciting March 31st at our Woodbridge shop. At 10:00 am, two buses arrived in our parking lot, stuffed to the brim with first graders. At first sight, the buses were quite intimidating and I almost began looking for a table to hide under. I (luckily) regained my composure and greeted the newcomers, all 80 of them.  This crowd came about after we received a call about a month ago from Dale City Elementary School. They were interested in getting a tour of our Woodshop for all 80 of their first graders. My first reaction, echoed by many others, was ‘eighty?!’. However, once everyone got over their initial shock, we were all buzzing with excitement and ideas. We’ve given large tours before, but as far as I know, never to 80 first graders, so it was just as much of a new experience for us as it was for the kids.

I was speechless when I saw the two buses pull into the lot, but somehow managed to introduce myself and get them all into the showroom. In my flustered state, I was unable to take a picture of all of the children filing off of the bus, but I did snap a few of the hectic day! Check them out below and let us know what you think.

Here’s Kevin Carlson explaining the tour system to the first graders and their chaperones. Let me tell you, that showroom gets hot with that many tiny bodies packed in there!

They made themselves comfortable on the Showroom floor as the first tour was dispatched. We figured that a group of ten children would be manageable for one craftsman and two chaperones. I’ve never seen children that excited to put on a pair of safety glasses!

Emily Rupert and I tried to keep the children occupied by showing them some of the pieces in our showroom and answering questions.

I asked them what they thought our Library Wall Bed was and I received the answer ‘it’s a shelf, DUH.’ It was only when I pulled the bed down did the ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s start. The reaction to our Glasgow TV Lift was one of pure earsplitting joy, which is something the first graders and I have in common.

A few of the questions that Emily and I faced:

“Where do you get your wood?”

“Why do you make everything out of wood?”

“Are your lamps made out of wood?”

“How much does that cost?”

“How much does the entire company cost?”

“How did you become a craftsman?” (I’m proud to say that several of the children want to become craftsman when they grow up!)

“Can I buy that for a dollar?”

“How much does the world cost?”

“Is the world made of wood?”

It’s safe to say that these kids were very curious and did pose some very good questions!

Here is Jermaine with his first tour group!

Jermaine handed out ear plugs, just in case the noises of the shop became too loud. Most of the kids wanted to save the ear plugs for later. I hope they didn’t put them in when they got back to the classroom!

Here is Jermaine’s group touching the dried out lumber that we keep stacked in the front of the shop. They all wanted to know how it went from rough to smooth and finished like the furniture in our showroom.

Mike Chubb had an incredible height difference between him and the children. I think the kids might’ve had kinks in their necks after this tour, but Mike was great with kids and answered all of their questions, so I don’t think they minded much!

Greg Smith showed his group how the CNC machine works (Computer Numeric Control machine… which means that it’s like a giant printer). This is one of the largest machines in the shop.

Kevin Parker with the Bacci Machine and his amazed group!

This was Emily’s last effort to entertain the kiddos – she let them climb the Loft Bed ladder one by one, until all 80 had a turn. You want to test the durability of your furniture? Let 80 first graders have at it!

Here’s the final turn out in front of our Woodbridge Shop! Not everyone is looking at the camera, but I consider it a great success. (Let’s forget the fact that I had to practically stand in the street to take this photo!)

We sent the kids, teachers, and chaperones back to school with gift bags and a personalized sign with all of the craftsman’s signatures on it.

We all had too much fun giving these tours! We thoroughly enjoyed Dale City Elementary School’s visit and hope that we get to see them in the future (maybe as craftsmen themselves!) Always keep in mind that we offer free tours, even to large groups such as this. We benefit from it just as much, if not more, than you will. If you’re interested in receiving a tour, email me at lorelei@hardwoodartisans.com or come into our Woodbridge Shop and we will have one of our talented craftsmen show you around!

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