Joshua Tree ~ Day 6 (by Marina Moses)

We’re in session! This is a guest post by NBTSC alumni Marina Moses.

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I wondered, when I signed up for the alumni retreat, whether it’d be weird to be at camp again. The last time I was at camp was 6 years ago, as a staffer, and the last time I was a camper was 11 years ago. I wondered how much camp had changed, whether it’d be odd having it in a new location, how much my memories of camp were colored by the intensity of being a teenager.

Turns out camp is pretty much the same. We hosted an Alumni Museum on Saturday and I heard a couple campers say, while looking at Rosie Record’s classic before/after NBTSC drawing, “I guess camp hasn’t changed much!” Fashion has changed a little–shirts are longer now, frosted tips as a hairstyle are out (thank goodness), and skinny pants are more common than raver pants, but there’s lots of dyed hair, funky altered clothes, witty t-shirts, and pajamas. I keep thinking I see campers from ’98 out of the corner of my eye, then realizing that the people I’m looking at weren’t even born then.

The Alumni Museum was a big hit. Several alumni brought old directories, bliss books, photos and camp shirts, and Grace contributed old schedules, camp journals, and a very special contract transferring ownership of Evan which was definitely the highlight exhibit. We had a “Find a Staffer” photo wall, and Kathleen provided angsty ’90s acoustic guitar songs as background ambiance. I wasn’t sure how it’d go over, whether current campers would be interested in our nostalgia-fest, but we had a bunch of visitors and they seemed to have a great time! Lots of laughter.

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Being at camp as an alum is pretty chill. I described it to Roya yesterday as more of a vacation than a life-changing experience. It’s wonderful to see other alumni and staffers who I haven’t seen in years, and hear what they’ve been up to. We’ve been having ongoing conversations about things like how to balance individual support of unschooling with societal support of public education, how to afford having kids, how we’re balancing making money with following our passions, and a REALLY awesome Excel workshop. (Pivot tables are SO COOL, you guys!)

An ongoing question for me after graduating camp was how I wanted to keep NBTSC and unschooling involved in my life. I think the alumni retreat has helped answer that. It’s not an intense life-changing week where I’ve formed intense relationships with people who live far away, or gone to workshops that will shape my life goals (although seriously, pivot tables!) but I feel reconnected to unschooling philosophy and community. After all, we are life-long learners, right? It’s awesome to see how we’re all unschooling our way through being grown-ups.

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photos of Marina; Alumni Living History Museum; and Roya and Wyatt by Reanna Alder.

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