Camp’s Over (guest post by Blake Boles)

The first session of our 20th season, at Camp Latgawa in southern Oregon, is over now. Here’s one final post, by longtime advisor (and first aid guy) Blake Boles. 

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What is this madness? Why are cars honking? Why aren’t I waking up next to a dozen friends? Why does my phone suddenly work? Wait—I have to prepare my own breakfast?

Oh, yes. Camp’s over.

For the past 10 years of working at Not Back to School Camp, I’ve faced this bittersweet situation. After one or two weeks living in a pristine natural setting, eating three (deliciously) prepared meals a day, and communing with some of the finest adults and young people on this green earth—returning to the world-as-we-know-it can shock the system.

Civilization has its perks, of course. Last night a group of fellow staffers and I went out to Laughing Planet (where Matt consumed two vegan burritos in one fell swoop) followed by pastries at Sweet Life (where I spend non-trivial part of my camp paycheck every year).

matt-double-burritoDigital connectivity can be a wonderful thing. As I type this post from Grace’s living room at 9:15am, I’ve already responded to a dozen important e-mails, made a few vital phone calls, published a podcast episode, and researched flight prices to from New Zealand to Argentina (thank you, Zoe). It feels good to reconnect to the world and Get Stuff Done Efficiently.

But there’s a little voice in my head that always protests:

  • Where’s my advisee group?
  • Why am I not spending most of my day outside?
  • Why aren’t I partner dancing, right now?
  • Why isn’t anyone asking me for a band-aid for their bloody foot? (Not that I love bloody feet, rather that serving as the first aid guy makes me feel useful on a fundamental level that responding to e-mails doesn’t.)

Camp fills so many of my basic needs—to be outside, to move, to work with young people in a face-to-face environment, to be social—that I’ve often wondered why we don’t do camp year-round.

I guess we’d call that a commune, and that’d probably get creepy. And I already have enough “creepy” in my life, thanks to the shadowy online organization called Blake Club that photoshops my face onto various images and then has its real-life emissaries print and mount those images on the path to my cabin at camp, leading to a weird stuffed-animal tea party waiting on my bed… yup, this is camp life, folks.

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These weird pranks are all part of the magic, of course. And magic is only magic when it doesn’t last forever. So I welcome the end of camp, knowing that it has filled my proverbial cups of joy, optimism, and community—and now it’s up to me keep the magic going throughout the rest of the year. Onwards, ho!

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Photo of Blake by Reanna Alder. Other photos by Blake.

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