Book Camp

Book Camp 2023, Day 2

One of the five campers is away at school. Another works a day job, or at least a partial day job. It’s strange. Many years we’ve either holed up in our fort or explored the wide world. This year we find ourselves older, wiser, and more independent.

Last night wound down with several rousing hands of Uno. The wins were split. The laughs were hearty. Sleep arrived late.

Our working camper was gone by the time the remainder of us rubbed sleepy from our eyes and congregated in the common area. And yet we had no time to lose.

Enter Super Secret Project 1. A project conveniently tasked while the subject of said project is out of the house. The progress today was more satisfying than I had dared hope.

The remainder of the morning and early afternoon were for creative pursuits, individually, followed by naps (me, the dog, and one camper at least in bits), video game play, and snacking. Around 4pm we gathered up to discuss cancel culture.

You may be as interested as I was to learn that these five representatives of their generation don’t care about canceling others but care deeply about suffering canceling. I had expected them to care about both, really. Here are their (paraphrased) notions:

  • I just think it’s kinda funny.
  • I don’t really pay attention to that stuff.
  • What’s even the point, especially if the target’s long dead?
  • I figure, I liked that when I was eight and I don’t regret it.

The mood changed when the topic turned to personally suffering a cancelation due to perceived or actual acceptance of a canceled creator. Again, paraphrased:

  • I stay off socials.
  • I just don’t vocalize what I like and don’t like too much.
  • When people start talking about a canceled person, I try to leave the conversation.
  • Not invested in canceling. Very conscious of being canceled.

Of course, I have no idea the extent, if any, that these sentiments would be repeated across their generation. I do have some idea as to the origins of the fabulous conversation we had. These young adults have grown up as creators, knowing they are creators. Their extended family and some teachers or other valued adults in their lives taught them so much about what can be created and its value in the world.

Book camp underscored everything creative: who gets to create, how we create, why we create, what is a creation, where creation happens, and more. Book camp has taught on subjects like copyright, equity, inclusion. Beyond perspective and plot, book camp strives to enrich these creators and empower them to share the ideals of creation with others.

There’s something about the oxygen of open dialogue that invigorates the soul. It gives us the power to explore nuance and to examine our own biases. Open dialogue allows for disagreement, dissent from the majority, and direct access to fresh points of view.

And remind me to tell you about the dandelions…

Book Camp

Book Camp 2023: Day 1

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!

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