August 28, 2011

Camp Camp - Overview

Just back from a week at Camp Camp, a GLBT summer camp that celebrated its 15th season. I was supposed to be up there through this morning, but the impending hurricane cut the program short on Saturday and I decided to take off yesterday afternoon. I feel much better knowing that my home is secured, my dog underfoot, and I have no reason to travel today!

P.S. - I'm rewatching this video and now a lot of these folks I count as friends (Clink! Nick! Kerry! Phil! Shannon! Goody!). Kind of getting teary, watching with post-camp eyes! My friends!

I was officially at Camp to teach yoga; having applied for and obtained a Staff position to teach two classes a day. But it's an unpaid gig; staff positions simply get you a reduced fee for a week at camp (depending upon number of hours worked) so I was just as much a camper and participant as anyone else.

In a word, Camp Camp was amazing. 250 GLBT campers spent the better part of a week doing typical summer camp things, building community, and enjoying friendships, adventures, and night time celebrations.

I ended up bunking in Sappho cabin, a larger bunkhouse on the shores of the lake. It's a quieter part of camp, wedged in between the men's cabin Greg Louganis and "the condos", a cluster of interconnected men's cabins. The Sappho residents were a bit older "early to bed, early to rise" women (as opposed to younger, "hang out all night talking" women) and that fit my needs and preferences completely. Sappho was also fairly close to the place I taught yoga; quite handy. Very sweet energy in Sappho cabin.

The cabin was simple but functional. Screened windows, no shutters or glass, and rough single bunk beds that were functional. We all got bottom bunks (so we could double up mattresses), and used the top bunk for storage. Couples pushed their bunks together and used air mattresses. Decent toilets and showers, plenty of hot water. 12 women in Sappho and I never had to wait for the bathroom or shower. I slept OK - I tended to wake up early and start thinking about my morning class. One good trick was to line the sides of the bunk with a blanket (I used my yoga blanket) which kept the heat in, blocked the breeze, kept light and sound out (especially when I went to bed early) and let me do a little reading without disturbing others if I woke up during the night.

In addition to the cabin affiliation, everyone was assigned to a Rainbow Group - a small band of fellow campers who met daily to check in, communicate camp news, and who did a few of the evening activities together. I was in Yellow group, which ended up being 2/3 men and 1/3 women (probably close to the mix at camp) under the leadership of a veteran camper / staffer called a Rainbow Group Leader. We ended up having some good discussions during rainbow group each morning after breakfast.

I had my phone up at camp, but cell service was very spotty and electronic tethers (phone, text, web, music) were actively discouraged. So I used it primarily as a clock for yoga classes, to play yoga music on occasion, and to take just a few photos. As usual, I left my camera home and was way too "in the moment" most of the time to take pictures.

While at camp, I did the following:

* Took a kayak out, for a quick lesson, a solo tour of the lake, and a guided marsh nature paddle. A long time goal and now that I've been out, eager for more.

* Went swimming a few times at the beach / dock, I forget how much I love the water and swimming.

* Made the simplest of stained glass art (thanks, Amy!), I liked the process and would gladly take on a more challenging piece next time.

* Took a volleyball lesson (yay, Nick!) which ended up being one-on-one. Very helpful, although I never made it out to the sand court to play.

* Spent some time with Circus Arts (Tigger!) where I messed around with juggling (I already have some chops but we worked on my form), plate spinning (I totally loved and bought myself a set of plastic plates to play with), and stilts (pretty hopeless)

* Played a game of kickball (fun) although I got my bell rung falling over going back for a fly ball. Good to play again but at 50, maybe I do not need to again :)

* Got a massage on Friday afternoon, much needed and appreciated after a week of teaching yoga 2x a day but grabbing my own practice as I could.

Never made it to the climbing wall or the ropes course (I was busy during the introductory ground school). Did not find my way to the dance studio (no surprise there), cooking classes, drawing, pottery. Also missed out on tennis, basketball, softball, frisbee golf, flag football, drumming - my days were just too full. So lots of fertile ground for next year!

In addition to the daytime activities, there was fun stuff to do every night.

Monday: Welcome dinner, we sat with our rainbow group

Tuesday: Barn Dance. I loved the energy and the music, but did not dance, and burned out a bit halfway through.

Wednesday: Quincinera, a celebration of the camp's 15th year, sat with rainbow group and there were some competitions, including a "america's top designer" inspired outfitting of the group "princess and escort" using tissue paper.

Thursday: Tea Dance. Indoors due to weather but a blast, a few friends dragged me out to the dance floor where I boogied til I dropped.

Friday: Talent / No Talent Show. They asked for volunteers to work backstage so I ended up one of three backstage managers. Which was a lot of fun, meeting the campers who performed. A healthy mix of serious talent (music, spoken word, magic and juggling, broadway dance), semi-serious talent (music with some comedic bits), and some drag shenanigans.

Saturday: Camp Camp Dance Dance. I took off early due to the impending hurricane so I missed out.

There were also a lot of "late night" activities - campfires, movies, a pajama party. My duties called (7 am yoga class) so I was in bed early (10 or 11) pretty much every night.

Meals were a cut above institutional / camp food - salmon a few nights, veggie / vegan options, lots of greens (veggies and salads). Great desserts. I ate well, and with all the outdoor activities and walking around the camp, I was hungry. Meal time was a time to come together and talk, and I mostly sat down randomly - sometimes with cabin mates, sometimes with new friends, sometimes with yoga students, sometimes with strangers.

Bottom line: I had a blast, met some amazing people, and hope to be back in Maine next year!

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