Book Camp 2023 seemed to come together at the last possible moment. After all we have two newish adults in our number; life has gotten busier and less predictable. Once we knew we’d be four campers in person and one participating at distance, setting the dates became simple.
Then arose the little matter of the camp director focusing too much on purging her home and too little on book camp proper. But my brain worked it all out and delivered it to me in bits, most recently this morning.
Our family has entered a phase of life attenuated by intermittent absences and the trappings of young adulthood. The campers, so far, want to continue camp, and we will until we don’t. I imagine camp falling away slowly, gradually, until it’s not sad but inevitable. A loss but only because of so many individual gains.
During this phase, we choose to write more fluidly, less stressfully, and more incrementally. An anthology. To be specific, a deca-anthology. For the ten-year period of 2020-2029, each of us will strive to submit at least one short story to the anthology each year. Remove the pressure of compressed writing during camp. Add the flexibility of individual pacing. Get our hands dirty. Grow our writing over a decade in the soil made fertile by the years gone by.
The children will continue to grow and become, and they may physically move away from one another for a time or indefinitely. In all our hopes, they each have deep timelines unfurling before them. Timelines in which to wander and learn to enjoy a good wander, to appreciate a place to be from, to embrace the wide world and embark. Such that a wanderlust rises within us all like mist and we go in hunt of the necessary, in search of ourselves, back to one another as often as we might.
And so, too, this deca-anthology centers on the inevitability of loss. The object of dirt—uncleanliness, rich earth, country roads, insider information—will thread through the stories and remind us to consider an array of possibilities whether good, bad, or neutral. The emotion of wanderlust will motivate characters, build settings, complicate plots.
Now we mine the stories of the past three years for those that might fit. Now we write new stories. Now we imagine what loss, dirt, and wanderlust might mean to us in a year or two or even ten.
This is book camp. More than we dared dream. A tradition rife with the certainty that comes from being more fully known.
Oh, and there’s a fort!