Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Camp

by Cathy Pickens

Okay, summer’s half over, so what have you done for fun? When fall comes, about what will you write your “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay?
True, you’re probably not going back to school and no English teacher is going to torture you by requiring an essay.

Still, wouldn’t it be fun to look back on your summer with the same happy-that-it-came/sad-that-it’s-passing sigh that you had as a kid?

So, when was the last time you went to summer camp? What?? It’s been years? Why?

It’s not too late. What would you like to do this summer? Trips to exotic locations? A pampered spa retreat? A challenging outdoor experience?

Yeah, that would be great. But mundane things like money, time, work and family commitments cut into that summer freedom we remember from childhood.

I started thinking about the magical taste that summer has when I began planning an MBA elective at Queens University of Charlotte on creativity for business. Why can’t grown-ups have the fun – and the benefit – of a summer camp, despite all their other responsibilities?

Sure, you say, that would be easy if I had unlimited time and money, but it’s possible even with limited resources. The limits can add to the fun and the challenge.

What would you like to do? Art camp? Music camp? Science camp? How about a trip to the library to get books on drawing or the latest on brain science research [The Female Brain and Brain Rules are great reads.] At the library, check out some classical music CDs. Head to the art store for a few supplies.

Check the listing at your area colleges and universities for noncredit courses – everything from ballroom dancing to landscape design to creative writing.

Or many cities have shops that offer courses on beading or jewelry-making, ceramic painting, photography … or pole dancing. Most are inexpensive and are taught by enthusiastic artists passionate about their subject and experienced at teaching it to others.

The hardest part for you will be narrowing down your choices.

Don’t live in a city that offers lots of options? Start something at your community center or church. Heck, check out Mindy Friddle on this blog, talking about starting The Writing Room in Greenville, South Carolina.

Create your own literature camp. Months ago, I embarked on a reading program – a sort of literature camp. I finished two Jane Austen biographies (one on audio from the library, while I was running my usual errands), re-read some Austen novels, checked out the BBC video versions, even read The Jane Austen Book Club.

Maybe for your literature camp, you might want to try a new writer. Someone on this blog? Check out his or her website. Try one of their books. That’s a summer camp that can fit into the crevices of a busy life.

In June, my husband and I went to Owensboro, Kentucky to watch mystery plays. I love mystery plays, starting with Agatha Christie. [If you can be anywhere near Owensboro next June, I would recommend that you check it out – great fun and a pleasant city to visit.] Click on Discovering New Mysteries

When we got home, I checked out some library books on writing screenplays and spent some time playing with ideas for writing my own screenplay. I haven’t written a play yet, but I might. And playing with the ideas was fun.

I also crocheted a purse. I saw the pattern in a store, bought three balls of yarn, and wrestled with a less-than-perfect pattern and my rusty needlework skills. After several months, I finished it. Maybe I’ll carry it. The important thing was that I challenged myself with something.

The real secret to summer camp? EXPECT to have fun. Attitude can make the ordinary an adventure.

What will you try? A new recipe? An elegant picnic for family and friends? Shag dancing with your spouse? Learning what your digital camera can do? Taking your children – or borrowing children – to explore something in your area that you haven’t visited before – a train museum, a park, a tea party café?

The possibilities are endless.

So what will you get for your efforts? Awakened brain cells, energized synapses firing, a proven way to stave off dementia, a new way of looking at things, a sense of accomplishment.
Heck, you’ll have some fun. And, if anybody asks what you did over the summer, make them so jealous they’ll want their own summer camp!

1 comment:

MIndy said...

Hi Cathy,
great blog and thanks for the shout out.