Thursday, August 31, 2017

One Camp, Two Camps, Red Camp, Blue Camp

(This post features my sad attempt at a creative blog post title.)

This summer totally flew by, for a number of reasons, but part of why it was so busy was because I went to three different camps! Two writing camps and one non-writing camp. All of them were so cool in totally different ways, so I'm going to do what I do best when I'm excited about something and RAMBLE about them. I might even share some writing from the camps. Who knows? You'll have to read to find out.

Camp #1: Camp ArtWorks - Elizabethtown College

I had no clue what to expect with this camp since it was my first time going, and it looked like the camp was pretty new, but once I saw Daina Savage was teaching there, I knew I had to go. I had her as a teacher years ago at the Linden Hall writing day camp and loved her. It was so nice to see her again! I was surprised she actually recognized me after all these years, but from day one, she knew exactly who I was.

This was also my first time going away to a camp and not knowing who my roommate would be, so I was a little nervous, but she turned out to be great! We got along really well. And we were both night owls, so it worked out fabulously.

My roommate and me.
It was a really small camp, so everyone got to know each other. We all ate meals together, hung out and played games like Mafia and Truth or Dare during free times, and had impromptu open mic nights. Our RAs were so cool. We adopted them as our mom, dad, aunt, and uncle for the week. It was tons of fun hanging out with them and they loved to read and critique our writing.

Our dorm family.
The classes were all really diverse. We got a taste for flash-fiction, short stories, poetry, lyrical essays, and scripts, all in one day. Everyone liked some teachers better than others, but it was definitely the best camp I've been to in terms of how many different genres I got to try out. Some camps I'll write two or three pieces that I workshop like crazy until it's just right, but with this camp, I got to just generate a ton of work. Lots of it was garbage, but that's to be expected when you're trying to write twelve different pieces in a day.

Some extremely short flash-fiction I wrote when we were challenged to write stories in 25 words or less. Hopefully you can make out the text.

One of my favorite parts was writing a script together with my roommate. There was forty-five minutes between class and lunch, so we locked ourselves in our room and worked on it. We ended up having so much fun with it, we almost missed lunch. Our "dorm mom" had to knock on our door and make sure we knew what time it was.

All in all, it was a really great week.

Camp #2: Young Writers Workshop - Messiah College

This camp has always been my favorite. I look forward to it every summer, and this year was no different. I signed up to be roommates with two girls I'd met at that camp in past years (Sam and Dana), so we shared a triple together and had a blast. Of course, we didn't get any sleep with all of us hanging out in the same room together, but that was fine by me.The Messiah workshop usually has so many students, they completely fill three separate classes, but this year was tiny. We had maybe 20 kids. But this really gave me the chance to get to know students who had been there every year, but I'd never gotten to talk to.

Our epic squad.

My class had a great teacher who used some really meditative exercises each day to help us stretch our writing muscles and write in different genres or styles we may not always gravitate to on our own. She helped us form smaller critique groups within the class, and everyone was super supportive of each other. We felt like a little family, quirks and all. I wrote a lot of poetry this year, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out.

A short love poem inspired by Luneville, the best headcanon ship to have ever come out of Harry Potter.
And, of course, the famous (or dare I say "infamous?") talent show. After Sam, Dana, and I did a hilarious and completely uncoordinated lip sync to "Farmer Refuted" last year, we'd become a sort of camp legend. The RAs made sure we were the ones to close the show this year, and boy, was it a hit. We did another lip sync, this time to "Gaston." We even got a new girl we'd made friends with that week to be part of it. It was tons of fun and we ended up winning first prize in the "Miscellaneous" category.

Camp #3: St. John's Summer Academy - St. John's

This camp was the one I was most nervous about, mostly because I wasn't sure what to expect from the campers. I had no clue what kind of people would be there and worried I wouldn't be "intellectual" enough to really find my people. It turned out to be okay! Most everyone there was really nice, even if they weren't the geeky/fangirly campers I was used to from my other camps.

The classes were cool. I loved the discussion style (for the most part), especially since the readings I had to read ahead of time were a mixed bag. Some of them I really enjoyed and totally understood (like most of the short stories, "Twelfth Night," and Pride and Prejudice), but others I was really confused by (like the science text and some of the essays) and needed to talk to the other teens and tutors in order to figure out what I'd read. The seminar style was a little tricky to navigate since sometimes it was hard to find a way into the discussion. One girl who was in all of my classes had a habit of monopolizing the conversation and never liked to admit she could be wrong, but she was quickly shut down by the other students as the week went on and everyone grew tired of her.

Annapolis is so cute and fun! It felt like a beach town without the beach. The girls on my floor in the dorms made daily excursions to get food, ice cream, visit shops, and go to old bookstores. In fact, we went out for ice cream so many times, we had debates on which shops had the best flavors and prices.

More daily activities were the workshops the various RAs hosted. We had a huge list of extracurriculars we could choose from (like poetry, flash philosophy, and fencing, all of which I tried), so I ended up going to theatre any time it was an option, which ended up being a good choice, not only because it was fun, but because I got to be a part of a talent show performance.

My RA ran the theatre workshop, so she worked with a couple classmates and me to put on the sleepwalking scene from "Macbeth" with a bunch of really cool choreography. There were three of us who played Lady Macbeth, and two other classmates who jumped in last minute to play the doctor and the gentlewoman. The video is dark, but you can still see the choreography pretty well. I'm the one on the very right in the red dress.

But everyone's favorite part was the swing dancing party. Each day, there were two groups of campers who alternated between playing croquet and taking swing dancing lessons. These lessons built on one another in order for us to be prepared for the swing party at the end of the week. It lasted several hours and our feet ached by the end of it, but nobody cared, because we were too busy dancing the whole time to notice. It was the perfect way to end the camp.

What was your favorite summer camp or camp activity you participated in? Leave a comment!


Boquinha said...

This was so fun to read! I mean, I know I've heard all about it throughout the experiences and afterward in person, but seeing it distilled into highlights and main points and seeing what stands out all in one post is really fun. Thanks for sharing this. And of course I love the pictures! What a fun summer of camps! I love seeing you happy and thriving. :)

Jimmy said...

What good, clean, creative fun! And I'm glad you got to enjoy swing dancing. Just watching it is always entertaining.

I liked your comparison of Annapolis to a beach town without a beach. Last time I was there I was tempted to drop corporate life and open a Santa Fe themed shop there and sell Native American pottery, jewelry, and green chile. It's a neat place. I remember the connection to Alex Haley's Roots.

The Magic Violinist said...


It's fun to recount the events day by day, but it was also really fun seeing what stood out to me later when I wrote this post. :) My pictures from camp are always my favorites.


Oh, for sure! A bunch of the students stood back and watched our instructors dance for a long time because they were so good. It was hard to tear our eyes away!

It's the perfect town to do that sort of thing in. I imagine a lot of people with shops there probably fell in love with Annapolis and quit their day job to go on a new adventure.

Boquinha said...

You know, I've been reflecting on this post and these comments and thinking back to when I was a teenager and how I didn't really do anything "extra-curricular" beyond church. I enjoyed it socially and even religiously at the time, but I never really thought much beyond that. I wonder what I might've chosen to pursue or learn about? I see kids doing music, writing, game design. I wonder what I would've liked . . . I think it's really neat that there are so many amazing options these days in so many specific areas of interest!

Siths and Jedis said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I already knew about a lot of this stuff, just because you told me, but it was nice to read it. Your voice is a lot different in your own writing than in your own words. I still love the Gaston video, even after viewing it for a second time.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Siths and Jedis

I definitely feel like I write differently than I talk (in that I present myself much better in writing, in general). Hopefully people are still able to tell that it's me! ;P I'll never get sick of the "Gaston" video.