An Origami Moment

Megan Hicks, a longtime instructor for Jacob’s Ladder, shares a moment from summer camp 2018:

The Climbers in my afternoon elective origami class had ideas of their own about what kind of origami they wanted to do today. I’m open for suggestions. A couple of kids wanted to make a snake I taught some Climbers last year. I really didn’t want to re-teach that snake. But one kid from last year said, “Oooh! I’ll teach them that one.” An RA attending the class mentioned that she’d like to learn how to make the paper chains that some of my morning students had shown her. One of those morning students piped up, “I can help her with that.”  One kid who came in telling me how bad he is at origami agreed that he would TRY to make an 8-pointed star, but he didn’t hold out much hope for success. I got him set up with the right sized paper and sat him down with a set of diagrams from a book written in German. He mostly needed help with folding carefully and patiently; he understood the diagrams just fine. And finally, one kid who is notoriously quiet said softly, “I’d like to try to cuboctahedron.”

Origami meets solid geometry.

The folding is easy, but assembling the four folded modules is a bear. I didn’t hold out much hope for success, but it was the first time he had asserted his preference, and I didn’t want to let that request go unheeded. So I sat down with him for a one-on-one. We folded the necessary modules with no problem, but when it came time for me to show him how to assemble the form, my brain went to mush. This was my fourth origami class today, and it’s all I can do to keep up with these kids. I had overestimated my stamina. I said, “I’m gonna have to take a break for a minute. Here’s my sample model. Let’s take it apart, and you can see how it works, and then I’ll let you wrestle with it for a few minutes, okay?”

The kid with the 8-pointed star needed some one-on-one by this time. Five minutes later, when it was time to start thinking about cleaning up, the snake folders — two first years, another R.A., and their second-year instructor — were wagging their origami snakes at each other. The R.A. making the paper chain was progressing famously under the tutelage of her fourth-year teacher. The star folder had finished one star and was on his second, proud because “I only had to look at the instructions once this time.”

And the kid who I feared had taken on more than he could handle with the cuboctahedron puzzle had not only reconstructed my sample model, he had figured out how to assemble his own, AND he handed me the one I had given up on…all of them perfect!

Just another routine class with the most remarkable group of kids I’ve ever encountered.


Megan Hicks came and taught origami and storytelling a couple of times when Alice, her daughter,  was a Climber in the early 1990’s. She became a “regular” instructor in 2002. Megan has inspired and enriched many Climbers Jacob’s Ladder over the years. We welcome her back this year.

As a self-proclaimed Teller-Without-a-Niche, Megan dives heart-first into every story she tells – fairy tale, personal story, American history, parody, ghost & horror, humor – and magically, her listeners are happy to follow.

She performs throughout the United States, and she recently completed a month-long tour of China, adding a fourth continent – Asia – to her international storytelling credits.

Her awards include a Parents’ Choice® Silver for the CD, “What Was Civil About That War…” which was also a 2005 Finalist for an Audies® award in the category of Best Original Work. She received the Parents’ Guide to Children’s Media Award and Storytelling World Honor for “Groundhogs Meet Grimm,” a collection of her original parodies that was also tapped for Honors by NAPPA. Her collection of fairy tales – “No Tricks. Just Magic” – received a Storytelling World Award, as did her recording “Like You’re Really There: Megan Hicks Live at Jonesborough.”

Megan is a sought-after workshop presenter and seminar leader, with credits ranging from storytelling festivals and conferences across the U.S., bilingual schools in Latin America and China, libraries in Australia and New Zealand, juvenile detention centers, and the FBI Academy.

Please read more about Megan from her website

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