Staff Orientation (Oregon Session 1 ~ by Zoe Vlastos)

We’re in session at Camp Latgawa in Oregon! This is a guest post by new NBTSC advisor Zoe Vlastos.


Energy Pooling

Four years have passed since I have been to Not Back to School Camp but as the staff trickled into Camp Latgawa this afternoon the same energy of excited authenticity, willing connection, and understanding space emerged. As we moved luggage and supplies up to the cabins and started our first staff meeting with Grace’s quotes and the omnipresent (yet refreshingly candid) check-ins, I felt myself begin to relax. Now at the end of a long day, sitting down with a cup of tea to write, I can finally name the feeling that I have felt building towards the beginning of camp all day; it is the feeling of home.

I have never been to Camp Latgawa before but already I love the huge trees, the quiet shadows and the sound of the bubbling brook. I am glad that my first year as a staffer is in a new place, marking a more clear distinction between my time as a camper and as an advisor. I must admit that it is intimidating to be an advisor with people who only four years ago were my advisors. However, only hours into staff orientation I feel much better as the others put me at ease and I become one of the team. I am honored to be a part of this group of amazing people. It is good to see old faces and meet new smiles. I greatly appreciate the vulnerable sharing and open discussion we have already had about camp logistics, consent, gender pronouns, and camp agreements. Each person brings a unique perspective to the group and already sets the tone for open conversation at camp.

Watching the other staff read through the directory looking for their advisees and post schedules around the lodge, I can feel the excitement building. Campers arrive tomorrow! The camp adventure begins! There is so much to be experienced and to be learned. Personally, I look forward to the connections formed. I am excited to inspire and be inspired, to talk, to listen, to experience, and to grow. I am excited to watch these vivacious teens learn from and connect with one another, to see dreams expanded, vulnerabilities explored safely, hugging embraced, challenges faced, and wonder embodied. I know there will be times of fatigue, sore throats, frustration, sadness, and misunderstanding. Yet I know that ultimately the energy of camp will lift UP, infecting all those who convene here tomorrow with inspiration and hope for the future. There is something phenomenal about these people, no matter what location we place the group in and no matter what combination of people we convene, as the connections begin to form—hugs flying and smiles beaming—we create and pool that palpable NBTSC energy.