photo of Margie by Rob A.
Individual days at camp go by slowly–I call it camp time–but the session as a whole always seems to fly by. It’s hard to believe we’re already through the first session of our 2016 season. Because I’m working at the next one too, I’m spending this week at Grace’s house in Eugene with a few fellow staffies, getting some work done but also enjoying ample time for delicious meals, long walks (mostly to catch Pokemon), and plenty of laughter.
At this session of camp I played the role of co-Night Owl, my job being to stay up late into the night hanging out with awake campers, encouraging quietness and sleep, and sometimes handling midnight dilemmas. It’s a pretty sweet gig. The first few nights of camp, my job is simple and uneventful. Campers go to sleep fairly early, and I’m not yet comfortable with them enough to join in on their late night talks. This is the part of camp where my role feels most like a job, but as the week continues and I get to know the group better it becomes 100% joyful.
Late night culture at camp is pretty wonderful. If you’re not familiar with NBTSC, the basics of bedtime are that we ask campers to think, intentionally and before camp, about how much sleep they need and what support they need to get it, but we don’t force them to bed at any certain hour. Most campers go to sleep by 1am, but Dandy and I are up until 3 chatting with small groups many nights. I love all the late night talks, the deep and the hysterical. A highlight: we get a thorough education (if there is such a thing) in memes from a large group of campers one night. We continue to ask our ridiculous internet questions to these Meme Gods all week, and they always know the answer.
In the daytime I’m mostly free to do as I please. I attend some great workshops, including an introduction to Arabic taught by River, a brainstorming session on how to have a non-trivial conversation with Blake and Tilke, and multiple games of glorious, sweaty soccer. My brother Matt and I co-facilitate with Autumn a gender fishbowl, which is an opportunity to hear from and ask questions of people of genders other than your own. It’s an illuminating conversation, and I come away with lots more questions but also a sense of gratitude for the open, vulnerable sharing that is such a part of NBTSC. One day I join Rob’s advisee group for a hike to the swimming hole, which is glorious and ends in my first ever rattlesnake sighting. Rattlesnakes are one of my number one worst fears, but we all make it back to camp safely and in high spirits from the adrenaline.
This session of camp is one day longer than it’s been in the past, and the extra time is really helpful to the pacing of the week and the depth of connection. Camp is amazing, but it’s also exhausting. By our closing staff meeting many of us are echoing the statement “I’m ready but not eager to go”. We make the drive back to Eugene slowly, stopping at In-N-Out for some deliciously terrible food and Dutch Bros for blended coffee extravaganzas. Matt and I play Pokemon Go late into the night, which is shocking since I’m running on 3 hours of sleep. The next morning I wake up at 11, feeling happily rested but sadly aware that camp is really over. Can’t wait for more in less than a week! (You, too, can register for more camp by the way. Visit nbtsc.org to find out how!)