Staff Orientation Day 2 ~ (Latgawa 2017, Sophie)

Sophie and Robin
Robin, Fearless Jr. Staffer and Sophie, The Author.

This will be my 8th session of Not Back to School Camp and my third year on staff. In some ways camp has changed on a fundamental level for me. I am no longer 15 years old, freshly out of high school and terribly accident-prone. I’m no longer a new camper, or even a new staffer. In many ways my relationship to camp has come full circle as I take on the role of First Aid Person at this session. Despite this deep sense of familiarity with camp I still find myself surprised by the magic, the challenges, and the beautiful connections made here.

Coming into staff orientation I was feeling extremely prepared. If you know me, you know how much I like to be prepared. I like plans, and I like having back up plans to those plans. Ideally those plans are color-coded and neatly organized, too. I had visions of myself being blissfully not stressed out by medical and administrative pre-camp paperwork during staff orientation and throughout camp. Unsurprisingly, I found myself blindsided and overwhelmed by the time the evening rolled around as my plans unraveled and new information poured in. I was no longer super prepared. I was tired, sad, and stressed out.

Sophie set up
Binder, coffee, and pen set for staff orientation

Luckily camp is a pretty safe place to feel vulnerable and terrified that you’re extraordinarily bad at your job because you can’t predict the future. Camp is a sanctuary, a place to practice asking for help and mentorship. Last night, as I delegated the making of spreadsheets and asked for hugs from my fellow staff members, I remembered the sense of safety and support I felt my first year of camp. I also wondered why I’m surprised that I’m met with such kindness and sweetness every year, no matter what my role at camp is. Now, as I sit on a rumbling school bus listening to the hum of excited campers with my staff binder by my side, I reflect on how grateful I am to be able to both create and experience the mission of Not Back to School Camp:

“Not Back to School Camp aspires to create a sanctuary that affirms, inspires, and mentors unschoolers; where campers and staff transform spiritually, emotionally, physically, creatively, intellectually; where profound friendships begin and grow; and where adventure, mystery, music, wild spontaneous fun, and magic prevail.”

First Aid Station
The first aid station / The Library

Even as the boring staff meetings, seemingly endless health forms, and to-do lists piled around me yesterday I found myself collecting inspiration from Nathen’s presentations on development and value-making stage models, Margie’s enthusiasm for Spot the Pig (Latgawa’s newest edition), and Robin’s remarkable grace under the pressure of her role as the lone Jr. Staffer. I slid down a waterfall, drank coffee under a beautiful blue sky, and listened to my fellow staffers sing. I got to know our new staffer Jim, and caught up with the rest of our staff team whom I consider to be very close friends. As staff orientation ended and we prepared for arrival day I knew we were already creating and experiencing camp. I love this timeless place. It is an eternal home where adventure, mystery, music, wild spontaneous fun, and magic always prevails.

Nathen teaching
Nathen teaching during S.O.