Joshua Tree ~ Day 5 (by Matanah)

We’re in session! This is a guest post by NBTSC camper Matanah.


We’re half way through camp already and it feels like yesterday was arrival day. It also feels as though we’ve been here for weeks and weeks, seamlessly adopting the camp life rhythm with only a hint of “beginning blues,” but luckily that has quickly been swept up in the breeze we’ve got that complements the delightful and abundant sun we have been sharing together in Joshua Tree. As is just one of the gleeful parallels that makes up the camp culture. Up with the sun, not a whole lot of us had risen before wake up call but there was excitement for the day’s rhythm and mood. Breakfast of egg quiche and oatmeal with giggles before we gathered for our morning meeting where Grace touched on the night’s event and the day’s schedule, there were some minor camper announcements and some silent laughter from the back before breaking for advisee group (mine happens to be by the pool, I’m getting used to this).

Check in went well, a couple campers are sick and on the mend but overall everyone slept well or had interesting dreams. In Nathen’s advisee group we’ve been clumping up by the wall to take pictures every day or so and this one invokes giggles and a little more closeness than the last.

A quiet day with some low-key workshops before the event this evening. Among the workshops was “The Future of Facts: What Happens to What We Think We Know w/Nathen” on the East balcony in the sun. It turned into a super goofy and enlightening conversation that delved into quantum physics and time relativity and heated debate (all in good fun of course). There was also a bigfoot discussion, a writing workshop, a workshop on the basics of juggling, not to mention sharks and minnows in the pool outside and the secret life of your uterus, which I thought was absolutely lovely (thank you Reanna).

In and around those was some down time for light ukulele playing and sweet sweet voices drifting through the camp. As well as room for long conversations and deep moments to share and keep for years into the future. And then LUNCH! Goddesslike pasta salad and garden salad and heavenly dressings like from a fairy tale a food lovers paradise to say the least (thank you kitchen staff my goodness your creations are the joy that is my life at camp).

During lunch the committee for Seeing Seen Scene met up to figure out how to set the mood for the night’s event. How to open it, what song to sing, how to open the space. It has been such a beautiful thing to be a part of not only an entirely new session of camp but to be a part of the session that kicks off a brand new event that has never been done before.

There was an interesting mix of excitement and uncertainty as we got ready to hold the first Seeing Seen Scene event, a place and a space to be witnessed and to witness each other for a night in whatever way we choose. I’m sure it has already found its way into the hearts of those that still feel a pang of loss for our much loved Trust Circle. May we have many more beautiful nights of sharing and being seen and being supported in whatever form we find it to be at camp.

One of the most beautiful things to me at camp (wherever we find ourselves) is the quiet lull of siesta after lunch every day. A time we are reminded to use for ourselves. To rest and to be calm among the swirling excitement that often is our atmosphere (in the most wonderful way of course). Campers busy being superheroes, a few souls napping in their rooms, or the shade outside, or campers quietly scampering and whispering to each other while someone softly sings from somewhere. It’s almost especially so in the desert where the sun is so bright but everything in the earth is sleeping that we are reminded to be like the lizards, basking in the sun sleeping on rocks.

After siesta some of us hastily gathered on the back balcony to meet with Damian to go see his permaculture oasis. And oh my word what an oasis it is. At four we all piled into cars and made the four minute drive around the corner to the house he has with Maya and Ollie. He walked us through the whole thing after a slide show in their kitchen. All of us crowding into chairs and ducking into corners so we would all fit (all of that only adding to the presentation). One of the coolest things about it is that no one else is really doing anything like this in the area. Damian and Maya are like permaculture pioneer wizards, being the change they want to see and doing gorgeously, opening their home for anyone who wants to help and support them in their labor of love and sustainability. We finished up just as the sun set and caravanned back over to camp to catch the last of Nathan’s partner dancing workshop before dinner. Where the Seeing Seen Scene committee met once again to talk to other campers about what the event was going to be like and how it is different than its predecessor, the Trust Circle.

After dinner and check in we all collected for evening meeting and giggled, and sang and listened and giggled some more. Then everyone reluctantly shuffled outside to complete the hug number and wait for us to prepare the space for the brand new event. We gathered out in the sandy lot and circled up, everyone getting a squirt of hand sanitizer and a smile before joining hands. And then a deep breath – an aum, and Ani led the spiral inside while we sang. Our voices joining in the space like fairies in the desert.

Throughout the event we shared our sorrows, our joys, our love and our tears, our common ground and our differences as a tribe and a family, closing the space with another two deep breathes and an aum. And finally the time to hold one another and laugh and cry with each other after the end. The beautiful sounds of people giggling through tears and talking into shoulders in the dim light from the other room was like a lullaby of sorts. People coming and going from the space. Blowing noses and wiping faces. The energy feeling more like the forest after a gentle rain than after a thundering storm.

Eventually most of us found our way to our beds to dream leaving a few campers giggling late into the night with Matt, our night owl. Putting one more day of camp in our hearts till the end of time.

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