Day 7 ~ (Latgawa, 2017 by Asher F.)

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Asher, Today’s Author

Day 7, this has been a rollercoaster, let’s start from the morning. I fell asleep in Uncle Joe’s next to my best friends and woke up feeling amazing but tired. It hadn’t quite set in that it was the last day, but boy was I in for a surprise. I had gotten my stuff out of Uncle Joe’s and put it away, and then I went to breakfast. It was a pretty normal breakfast – banana bread, eggs, oatmeal etc. After that I headed to morning meeting with some friends. I don’t remember what we talked about but it was very funny. In morning meeting we sang a beautiful song which really helped me wake up to camp spirit.

After morning meeting we had advisee time, which was our last advisee. During advisee we played hot seat and we asked some serious and silly questions. When I got up I was asked an array of questions, from camp crushes (nobody, lol) to things on my bucket list (visit Thailand, most of Asia, and South Korea). After advisee was lunch. It was chili, yum. During lunch I sat with my friends Raven, Ki, and a few others whose names escape me. I really enjoyed talking with them as I always do.

Shortly after that I headed out to mess around a bit and then went to a workshop called “how to take nbtsc home with you.” The panelists had very good advice on how to deal with after-camp blues, keeping camp spirit with you, and keeping your passion going. It was great.

After the workshop we all had to go to camp clean-up. After we assembled, we all got assigned to a work crew. I got put on general buildings and grounds clean-up. We had to go through all the cabins and clean them up, which entailed sweeping the floors, taking out trash bags, and putting anything on the floors into lost and found.

We put a lot into lost and found. Thankfully we had about 8 people, so clean-up was fast.

After clean-up was dinner, which was very good. It was a baked potato bar (yummy in my tummy). I quickly scarfed down my food, however, because I wanted to have time to meditate. After I meditated for a bit I walked around and talked to friends. I talked to my friend Raven again and asked to borrow their book on crystals.  It’s a very cool book. Shortly after that I was trying to find my crystal because I had lost it (or so I thought). For about 10 minutes I looked around for it with my friend Bryan. And then I found it in my top vest pocket (yup). After that

After that fiasco we had evening meeting which went really well. We sang songs and had a normal meeting. Then, Matt the logistics person started FIRING PEOPLE. WHOA! Not really. The staff had made a very funny skit that I don’t think I could do justice to in writing. After that was

After that was closing ceremony, which was intense. It got really emotional. There  was a lot of singing and the traditional last-night camp rituals.  A lot of my friends are in their last year, so it was really sad for me. I cried a lot. After that, we all hung out outside and had some deep and thoughtful conversations which I don’t want to share here, but they were amazing and made me realize how much I love this camp and the people here., so yeah that was my day hope you enjoyed reading about it,

So yeah, that was my day. Hope you enjoyed reading about it, Asher out.

Day 6 ~ (Latgawa 2017, by Emma K.)

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Emma, Today’s Author

Hi everyone! My name is Emma and this is my 3rd year at camp, but my first time writing for the blog. I’ll be talking about day 6 today!

I’m usually an early riser at camp, so I got up around 7:30 and went to the dining hall to see if anyone was there. Turns out, there was a group of people playing a card game when I got there! We played until it was time for wakeup call and breakfast.

After breakfast, morning meeting, and advisee groups I started packing to get ready to go home, because this is one of the last few days. I got my camp “Love Letter” that I almost forgot about!

After all that was lunch, which was really… interesting (I saw another camper eat a bite of banana without peeling it!) Then there was a swimming slot and there was no thunder today! Workshops were after that, where I chose to do an improv workshop and played an RPG which was pretty much Firefly (I played a character that reminded me of Mal)

After workshops was dinner and evening meeting, where we decided to play a prank on senior staff (We all gasped loudly whenever Evan looked at his clipboard). There was also a talent show before “Prom”. There was singing, dancing, piano, and someone even showed off their prom dress that they made themselves!

After that was “Prom” I actually forgot to bring anything for prom, but luckily someone had a banana costume, and I wore it pretty much all night. The theme this year was Octopus’ Garden, so I feel like the banana fit.

I didn’t stay at prom the whole time, but I did stay long enough that I think I can say I had a good time and that it was a good way to end the 2nd to last full day.

 

Day 5 ~ (Latgawa, 2017 by Nyrten G.)

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Nyrten, today’s author. Photo by Sophie 

As a new camper, camp has been a rollercoaster of emotion. I connected with people so fast, and then begun to doubt their friendship. Yesterday was the first day that didn’t end badly. It started out with someone cuddling a branch in advisee because it wouldn’t stop hitting them, and for a chunk of the day until workshops, it was rather uneventful.

But then, workshops happened. Somebody held a workshop named How To Psychically Communicate With Multidimensional Fish (if you’ve been to the Latgawa session, you probably know who I’m talking about) which ended in everyone carrying one of the participants from Uncle Joe’s into the field where we set him in a circle of improv-ers playing Bunny Bunny and pretended to sacrifice him. Was it weird? Yeah, that’s the point. After that, there was lunch and siesta, and after that I was PLANNING on going to more workshops, but I was distracted by some people being what most people would call inappropriate, but I call funny, and I missed all of the workshop slots because of this. I’m not complaining, just saying that if it weren’t for YOU I would’ve gone to something about yoga. On second thought, I’m glad they distracted me.

And then at evening meeting, they broke my brain. The junior staff had us split into three groups and sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and The Alphabet Song ALL AT THE SAME TIME, because apparently they all have the same tune. It was crazy. And then, there was the Creation Circle event, which was camp-wide hide and seek. Instead of doing that, I mostly just played cards and prepared for writing this blog post, because as a fiction writer, this scares me. After that, there was night swimming, which sounds cool and fancy, but is actually just going swimming in the pool at night. It was awesome, though. There was music and a light-up beach ball, and at one point we threw someone into the pool. Don’t worry, it was consensual. After that it would’ve been the smart choice to go to sleep, but I don’t tend to make smart choices, and I stayed up until 1:30 cuddling in the library. Pretty shocked I got out of bed on time to write this, honestly.

On the first day I was here, everybody said that there was only a sliver of time that we could be thought of as ‘new campers,’ because soon enough we’d have integrated into camp. I didn’t believe them then, but they were right.

Day 4 ~ (Latgawa 2017, by Berry R.)

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Berry, today’s author. Photo by Sophie 

Thursday at camp always feels like a huge turning point for me and for a lot of campers. It’s also one of the most exhausting days physically and mentally in good ways. Thursday is our adventure day, where we get many opportunities to leave the main campsite for a little bit and go hiking up to the supposedly haunted cabin up on the hill, take a dip in the swimming hole or join in on one of the many fun organized adventures within camp. Sleep wise camp is always a struggle for me, so instead of heading off and joining in on all the magical activities I decided to stand on the sidelines and observe, take in other people having the time of their life since my own body and mind needed rest. I sat and watched a huge game of prisoners base organized by one of our amazing staffers Margie, which is pretty much capture the flag and is a blast to take part in or enjoy the hilarity and friendly competition, a lot of campers get really into the game. So I sat and gigged along with everyone else either playing or viewing the mayhem unfolding.

I’ve been going to camp for five years now, ever since I was thirteen and every single year as much as I enjoy the workshops and events, a huge part of my camp experience is connecting and having one on one conversations with people. I guess my adventures that day weren’t so much going and doing and physical activity, more mental adventures, pushing myself to go to talks and sit with people I had been wanting to connect with but been shying away from. The environment at camp is one where some of the most eye opening and healing communication can happen within a few minutes. I was talking to a camper and realizing that, at NBTSC when someone asks you how you are doing you are allowed and feel safe enough to truly admit how you are feeling and what’s going on with you. There is no need to force a smile or pretend that you are feeling okay when you really aren’t. It cultivates such a loving and accepting environment, people will come up to you and check in constantly, the outside world there is such a lack of emotional honesty that is so encouraged at NBTSC.

I had about five different courageous conversations with a person that day who mean the world to me, and for me that was more of an adventure than hiking or jumping off a cliff side into freezing cold water.

Thursday is also seeing/seen circle, an evening event sort of like our bonding night that goes along with the wonderful supportive energy that flows through camp. Campers are given a chance to speak openly about a situation in their life or something that has happened that may be somewhat taboo or difficult to talk about, while doing so you are surrounded by campers ready to listen and comfort you when needed. Tears are shed and the emotional intensity can become a bit overwhelming for some campers, but over all I’ve always found it to be one of the most therapeutic experiences. Humans coming together to connect over vulnerabilities without judgment and during the emotional intensity, being surrounded by unconditional love and support. Hands were held and we all sat around being there in that moment of relief, getting something so heavy out in the open.

I had my emotional moments and found safe spaces with campers who were more than willing to hug, chat, and just be there during it all. It’s why I return year after year, to come to a place where emotions are not only validated by accepted by all. I headed off to sleep feeling lighter than I did before.

Day 3 ~ (Latgawa 2017, by Lena)

Hello everyone! My name is Lena, and I’m about to be your tour guide through day 3 of camp.

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Lena’s Crown

After a hearty breakfast, we all gathered in the usual location to hear whatever important announcements awaited us from Grace and Evan. We heard that today would be a parent visitation day, and then learned a very important new word.

Ephebephobia. The fear of us, the mighty and terrifying teenagers.

Sadly, we heard news of a new addition to camp. A rattlesnake has taken up residence around the path up to the swimming hole, so for today and any day until we know it is safe, no hikes are allowed up to the swimming hole.

To end off morning meeting, we all gathered into a tight circle, picked a partner, and guided them around with their eyes closed. There ended up being significant amount of head on collisions, but I don’t think any campers have car insurance.

After a fairly typical advisee session, it was time for a quick workshop slot (I attended a psychic fish’s Q&A session, which was surprisingly accurate,) followed by a delicious Mac n’ Cheese lunch.

As time wore on in the day, the heat started to pick up quickly, leading to a very appreciated pool time… while it lasted. Around 30 minutes into the 3-hour pool time, we were forced to vacate the area due to rumbles of thunder all around us, the third day in a row that this has happened.

After a swift loss in the first round of the chess tournament, I then moved on to a very relaxed block of time to just hang out with some friends, play some music, and prepare ourselves for the night’s main event.

Talent Show 2: Electric Boogaloo started off fairly normally, with an act of a camper staring into people’s eyes while eating a banana before walking off the stage. A tough act to follow, I know, but next was the Ukulele Cult ft. Yours Truly, an original song performance, an absolutely mesmerizing lightshow, and topping it all off was a fairly comedic one man show.

As the night came to a close, or so I thought, I made my preparations to go to bed and headed to the dining hall to fill my water bottle. When I arrived, however, booming music just around the corner alerted me to the fact that a significantly sized dance party was going on, featuring lots of silly dancing and screaming along to songs we all loved.

All in all, it was just a fairly typical day at NBTSC.

Signing off,

-Lena

Day 2 ~ (Latgawa 2017, by Ki C.)

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Ki, Photo by Sophie 

The morning sun is peeking through the windows, and the birds are chattering outside. I roll over in my sleeping bag and tug my blanket closer around me to fight off the biting cold at my toes. There’s shifting in other places in the room as other campers begin to wake up. The soft tones of mandolin dance through the air as Claire comes, singing, through the door. My partner Raven is still sleeping softly nearby, their red hair curling from the humidity.

Wake up call is my favorite way of waking up when I sleep in Uncle Joe’s. You begin to see people moving more and more as they begin to become conscious. I drag myself out of bed a little bit after most of the people in the room have left already, taking their sleeping things to their cabin or getting ready for breakfast. I zip up my sleeping bag, throw it and my blanket over my shoulder, and run to my cabin to put on clothes in time to circle up in front of the lodge for breakfast.

Meals at camp may be one of my other favorite things to participate in. There’s something amazing about having three huge meals prepared for you a day; it makes the days so much easier and worry-free, especially for someone who worries about buying and making food every day for myself at home.

The morning wizzes by in a flash: I devour the breakfast burritos that have been set out for us and spend my time talking with Nathen about my emotional state before it’s time for advisee. Advisee meeting takes place back in Uncle Joe’s and we play “Hot Seat” in order to get to know each other more. Advisee is a wonderful chance to learn more about specific campers, and I find myself recognizing more names and faces each year during advisee. We wrap up quickly, however, before I get a chance to be in the middle (but my advisor assures me that I’ll get a chance tomorrow).

At this point, the sun is coming out full force and the day is getting hotter. I spend my time talking and mingling with other campers and our Jr. Staffer, Robin. We get to reminisce together about our first years, our first times meeting each other, and all the good that has come in our lives because of camp. After all, this is my last year, why not remember all the good times we’ve shared together?

When the lunch bell is rung, our conversations stop and we hurry to circle up and get in line for salad bar (one of my favorite camp meals). I wolf down my meal, still hungry from running around, even after our big breakfast. Since I’m an Eeyore, my superheroes shift is today! I meet Matt and my other superheroes at the library and help them to sanitize doorknobs, pick up trash, and move art supplies to Uncle Joe’s. After that, I’m free to be during Siesta, so I find my friends and begin to talk again. We sit around a table in the dining hall.

My partner restrings their guitar, and other musicians gather around to compare techniques, talk about their instruments and music in general. A table nearby is making “generalized positivity” notes for every camper’s clothespin. I walk over to join them, and spend the next little bit coloring small pieces of paper with uplifting phrases on them to give to every camper and staff person. Once the clothespins are all full of these tiny notes, the table cleans up and I join Raven again as they finish stringing their guitar to work on my pastel drawing of a dragon.

When siesta and pool time are finished, workshops are opening up again! I join Dandy in the corner of the dining hall to learn about cyanotypes, a 19th century printmaking technique that uses a photosensitive solution and objects in order to create a sort of print. We are told to go outside and collect different objects to use on our pieces. I excitedly run around the site picking up lichen, moss, leaves, and other things. I also decide to use a couple of my crystals to make beautiful shapes. When we get all our objects laid out, Dandy instructs us that we must lay them in the sun so the reaction can begin. We carefully carry our papers and objects out to the table when all of a sudden-

“It’s raining!” says one of the members of the workshop. We hurry to take our papers inside (the solution will react to water) as the rain slowly begins to come down. In both of my years at camp, I have never seen rain; this is a new experience! The thunder that has been rolling in the past two days is finally becoming rain.

My partner and I run to the front of our cabin to clean up the small alter I have set up there so our crystals don’t get damaged. The rain is really coming down now, running off the roof of the dining hall and pouring down on the roads. Campers are rushing from everywhere to see the rain, laughing and screaming as the drops pour down on the hot day. I see a group forming at the road, where there’s no tree cover to block the droplets.

Willoughby is dancing with bubbles in hand, blowing them through the group of ecstatic campers who are all tipping their heads back, stretching out their arms to experience the rain coming down. Soren is jumping, whooping about the bubbles and the rain. I dance around myself, laughing at all of the boisterous reactions. It’s invigorating to have the rain wash away all of the heat of the day.

When I’ve finished basking in the raindrops, I feel myself start to shiver. I decide to watch the rain calm down from inside the dining hall, where I will be warmer. Other campers join my partner and I as we sit down again to do tarot readings. I pull out my goddess deck and give two readings, one to my partner and one to Kay as River looks on. By the time I’m finished explaining the cards and talking about the readings, the smell of stir-fry is wafting from the kitchen. We run to wash our hands and get in line for yet another big, healthy meal, with pudding for dessert.

The sun is beginning to set, and all of camp is making their way towards evening meeting. Everyone is pulling out their hoodies as the air chills further, cooled down from the rain. Evening meeting rushes by, and we learn that water may be low tonight (the filter has to be changed), and then the talent show is next. Everyone gathers in Uncle Joe’s to listen to campers’ music and other performances. Other campers kick a lit up beach ball with Yared, and still others practice for other talent shows in the dining hall.

We are all waiting for the big event of the night: bonding night. Bonding night has to be one of the most connecting and grounding experiences I have enjoyed at camp. When the time comes, we circle in front of the dining hall with hands outstretched for hand sanitizer. We hold hands around the circle, and begin singing…

“Spiraling into the center, the center of the wheel. We are the weavers, we are the woven ones, we are the dreamers, we are the dreams…”

The circle slowly is pulled into the dining hall, which has been cleared and softly lit. Our voices echo like a choir of spirits around the room. I feel my breathing, soft and steady as I relax into the event. We circle around the room and close our eyes while the bonding night committee leads us to different places in the room, sitting us in pairs.

Eye contact is the first activity. There’s something deeply personal and connecting about just staring into someone’s eyes without speaking. In our regular society, connection isn’t necessarily a priority; not here at camp, however. I find myself staring into King’s eyes, and feel that same profound connection of staring into someone’s soul that I get when I look into my partner’s eyes, or anyone else’s, for that matter. People say that eyes are the windows to the soul, and there’s something to that saying.

When the soft chime rings, we switch to questions. With our partners, we discuss what a safe place is, and what love means. This is a listening exercise, so we sit and listen while the other talks, then switch back and forth. It was so amazing to learn more about those that I was paired with, especially about such personal and deep concepts. When we finish talking, it’s time for my absolute favorite part of bonding night: unconditional love.

We circle the room again and wait for the committee to split us in half for the next portion of the event. Half of us spread out across the room, at least an arms length or so apart, while the other half backs against the wall. The people who have spread out close their eyes, and we are all set loose to hug them. Each hug is anonymous, and every person tends to hug every person on the other side of the room. The room is quiet, except for the shuffling of feet and the sound of crying from some individuals. The experience is entirely beautiful, and brings up emotions of relief, happiness, and love. When we finish, the space is used as a soft, cuddly area for those who are still feeling everything from bonding night. People continue to mill around, still hugging one another, sharing snacks and laying together on the tiles.

I find Raven after the event with tears running down their face. They hold me tight and tell me how beautiful this event was for them, and how much love they’ve felt here. I hold them on the ground in the dining hall and let my own tears fall down my face, feeling the same love coursing through my body. I remember that this may be my last bonding night, but I’m not sad at all. I feel like I’m right here, right now. This is finally the night that I feel like we’re really here at camp, and everything is perfect.

Day 1 ~ (Latgawa 2017, Raven D.)

 

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Raven D.

“It’s not the same as last year.” That’s one of the sentences I heard my first year, which was last year. I never really understood why so many of the older campers said it, until now. A sentence I never thought I’d say came from my mouth yesterday. From what I remember, it was only said the first couple of days. There’s that strange familiar, yet unfamiliar, feeling that I felt last year. I just never thought anyone could be this nice. Everyone’s thoughtfulness and caring personalities come on so strong it seems almost unreal.

Personally, I think the first day is probably the hardest, and it’s understandable. It’s the first full day of camp and there are so many things to do, it’s almost overwhelming. Almost. It must be hard for the new campers too. I remember it being hard the first night last year. I couldn’t sleep, I was so nervous my hands were sweating, and I barely made eye contact with anyone who smiled at me. However, all those same things happened to me this year. I thought it would be easier, especially because I’ve been here before. After thinking about it during Siesta, I realized it would probably happen every time I have my “first day” at camp. I always want to make an amazing first impression. Whether it’s my first year or sixth year, I always want people to know me for me.

At the end of the first day, you can tell the new campers have adjusted a lot better. I’ve noticed so much more confidence and openness in the new campers in my cabin, than on arrival day. I really hope they know that they have nothing to be afraid of with the older campers. They might be a little intimidating, but they’re actually very kind and open to help out if you’re feeling homesick, because this isn’t just a camp, it’s a second home. The first day is probably the hardest to get through in the entire week, but you have to go through the first day, to be able to have the best time the rest of the week.