We’re in session at Camp Myrtlewood in Oregon – NBTSC’s home since 1996. This is a guest post by new camper Evan Forletta.
No one told me to go to bed. That was one of the first things off about this place. Usually camps police bedtime, but after realizing that it was past midnight and I was in a room full of music and laughter, I knew I was in a good place. I stayed up all night.
But it was a grave mistake. All of a sudden it was 7:30 and my alarm was going off. I needed to be in the kitchen in an hour to do dishes for my worktrade. I immediately turned my alarm off and by some miracle woke just minutes before I had to be in the kitchen.
The rest of my day carried on in exhausted anticipation.
If bureaucracy and “Not Back to School Camp” don’t sound like they mix it’s because they don’t. But, being the first day, there was a lot of administrative business to address.
There was a new camper orientation. There were ice breakers galore and how many name games? Grace did concede that the first community meeting could be dry… and she was right.
All of this was to blame for the anticipation I felt. There was a whole lot of talking about camp, what was to come and how great it would be, but not a lot of doing it.
There was, however, one aspect of camp present that I did get to experience. And that was the people. The people here are beautiful. This is a special community bound not outright by common interests, but by the fact of interest itself. The fact that we are each interested in something. That something, no mater what it be, grabs hold each our souls and drives us is really what bounds us. Almost everyone’s bios asked the reader to come and talk to them about what interested them. You don’t get that in high school.
The premise of all those introductions was to publicly set forth our interests both to partake in what we already know and enjoy, and to branch out and learn new things. Giving and receiving.
The staff talent show that night was the height of my exhausted anticipation. The staff introductions and talents got me past the dryness of meetings and I became presently excited to talk to and learn from all of them. At the same time, I almost fell asleep for the last act. I was ready for bed and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I had the night before.
That mistake was important though. It immediately slapped me with my first lesson of camp: freedom requires accountability. Freedom is the blood of this camp, no one’s going to tell you to go to bed, or what you can and cannot learn. But without being responsible for ourselves, without taking the opportunity to actualize the possibilities, everything falls apart. Be it getting enough sleep, or showing up to kitchen duty.
It works to form an integral part of camp. Even throughout the meetings, there is very much the idea that we fundamentally create our experience here. Camp by and for the people, except less rhetorical flare and more actualization. The cliche, “be the change you want to see in the world” wouldn’t even be dismissed as a cliche here–it’s the functioning philosophy. “We are the rising sun,” we sang on the first night. “We are the change.”
I went to bed that night with that song in my head. I was ready to wake to the next day’s lessons and experiences.