Friday, September 24, 2021

Our Project Reveal At "Give Kids The World"!

Hiya! Remember when I mentioned this last month?

Our friend Arielle is a theme park designer, and she does some really cool volunteer work, like this mystery project. And since the big grand opening was a few weeks ago, now I get to show you what it is, and what we did!

The cave tunnel is at Give Kids The World, the free charity resort for children with life-threatening illnesses. They have a little train ride there called the JJ Express, which recently got a Jurassic themed makeover. The cave tunnel was turned into an archeological dig, complete with faux dinosaur bones and - here's where we come in - cave paintings.

A quick peek at the train ride from GKTW's Facebook page.

The cave paintings needed to look like real cave paintings, so something like this:

... but they also needed to be paintings of dinosaurs.

(Don't come for me, historians, GKTW is a place of wonder and whimsy, aight? :p)

The three of us were given free rein on the designs, but that much responsibility freaked us out, ha. So thankfully one of the project directors e-mailed some sketches to use. We took the sketches, projected them onto the walls, and arranged a story scene.

We traced everything with chalk, then filled in with extras like footprints and hand prints.

Arielle brought 3 different paint colors: we used one for the fire, one for the people, and one for the dinos.

The final step - in order to age it a few thousand years - was a good sanding with sanding sponges. This was my favorite part, it really brought the paintings to life.

Our main scene has a Story Teller beside the fire, telling a ring of children about the dinosaurs of old. Above them, in the flickers of firelight, are a Brontosaurus with her baby and a Triceratops and T-rex having a friendly chat:

We made up a few more things for further down the wall, my favorite is the pterodactyl:

::pterodactyl screech::

Now here's the magical part: this entire cave wall is wired with fiber optics. And by a delightful random happenstance, we placed our fire painting just where it looks like the lights are coming out of the fire and surrounding the dinosaurs:

How cool is that?! It's like the fire is conjuring the dinosaurs with pixie dust! The fiber optics are hard to see in bright light, so we didn't plan this; we only noticed when we stepped back to take final photos.

Here, you need video for the full effect:


Later more teams came in to finish dressing the tunnel scene with extra props, bones, and equipment. Arielle was there at the grand opening (we were invited, too, but couldn't make it) and took some photos for us:

I like how they framed the main scene with the rope!

::internal flailing::

Y'all. We did that! I mean, at least, we helped. Ahhh, there's that happy glow.

It's been over a month, but I'm still a little starstruck that John and I got to work on an attraction at Give Kids The World. They do so much good, and spread so much love to folks who need it. I'm a fan. (If you're not familiar with GKTW, go take a look around their website.) I do hope we get to do more for them in the future.

Well that's it for me, so happy Friday, bots & babes! I hope this made you smile, or at least put an amazing new charity on your radar. Now tell me, what's the best thing you ever did volunteering? Or the most unusual? Do you have any fun stories? Hit me up in the comments, I'd love to hear what y'all have done and recommend.


  1. This is an incredible experience and I am so happy you both got to partake and add your touch to such a great charity! Well done!

  2. Oh, that's AH-mazing!

    My former boss' family was able to stay at GKTW after his daughter had completed her cancer treatment (she's in complete remission now). He was blown away by the resort.

  3. My niece did a Disney trip with Give Kids the World and I was able to go with them a couple years ago when she did an Alumni day visit. It really is a great place. I'll have to tell my sister to be on the look out for your handiwork when they get back there again!

  4. That looks amazing and what a wonderful charity!

    My own personal moment of Rise To The Charity Occasion was when a friend handed me the duty of creating/writing/designing/executing a "School of Magic (You know what)" escape room for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program she worked with. I used your candle tutorial, of course. :)

  5. Make-a-Wish granted my cousin's youngest daughter's wish which included a trip to Disney World and then some time at Give Kids the World. They spoke highly of it, and how it brought them all together.

  6. We stayed at GKTW when I went on a make a wish trip with a child from my work, it's an AMAZING place and he still talks about it 3 years later. (he's 10 now)

  7. I used to volunteer for a local animal shelter. My main job was to take animals to events and talk about their stories with the public. My favorite event was at a tea party for children. In a book store. With a kitten. Hands down, best event I ever got to do

    1. That sounds AMAZING and I'm completely jealous. :D

  8. definitely getting Fern Gully vibes from the handprints

  9. Okay, first I need to acknowledge that this was obviously awesome and wonderful and all the superlatives. However, my favorite part of this entire post is the fact that you used "free rein" correctly. Sometimes I feel like if I read "free reign" one more time I will commit violence. LOL

    1. Bahaha! Writing CW for over a decade cured me of most my grammar errors - but I still double-check rein/reign. :D

  10. This is so great Jen!

    Though I can't help giggling that the storyteller has a prominent butt.

    1. The bubble butt provided us with MUCH merriment. We joked that, years from now, that would be the one ride feature folks will remember. :p

  11. I am so happy for you both that you got to do this! And it looks awesome!

  12. Nice paint job! Ever think about painting scenery for the theater?

  13. I work at Make-A-Wish, and I know what a wonderful and special place GKTW is for our wish kids! Thank you for adding even more magic! <3

  14. So one of my hobbies is hanging out with other people's kids. Right now that means helping out with the fifth and sixth grade ministry at church and coaching a youth STEM/robotics team.

    With the fifth and sixth graders I'm everyone's favorite person because I make sure there are snacks. And if there's anything that fifth and sixth graders like, particularly boys, it's snacks! We've got a couple of kids with dietary restrictions and I find it easier to just make things rather than worry about reading labels and figuring out what actually tastes good so every other week or so I get to bake something fun for the kids.

    With the STEM/robotics team last Saturday I arranged for a tour of a local ecommerce company's warehouse. I'm not sure whether the kids or the warehouse manager had more fun with it, but it was a great time all the way around. I wrote it up (and posted pictures) on the company's forum here:

  15. My best volunteer experience was helping a farmer during lambing time. I got to pull out a stuck lamb and it was such an incredible moment.


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