Monday, April 30, 2007

Clay Feet

When I was involved with Camp Odyssey I started working with the people who designed the curriculum and the program. I really thought that they embodied the values of the program. In fact, it was D who came up with the thing about staying in the boat, and T who encouraged everyone to close loops. M always seemed to bring a soft consciousness to the hard parts. Because J was so tall, I felt like he was able to see what was going on everywhere in the big meetings, and would step in if something was going haywire.

Then in the summer of 1997 we had the Camp From Hell, when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. Because Camp was so intense, even small things going wrong felt much bigger. I had participants bolt out of meetings and people not talking to each other by the end of the week, and that kind of thing was happening in other meetings too. At the time I blamed a lot of what went wrong on one person, who happened to be someone with whom I had had a lot of personal conflicts and didn't like very much.

It didn't occur to me that maybe those people who were the Curriculum Committee had anything to do with the craziness. I now remember that, in a place where structure was the highest priority, they were deleting some things and reducing the time allowed for others while Camp was running. At the time, that seemed like the last thing that group of people would do, which is probably why I couldn't see it was they who were making those changes to the curriculum. It's so clear now, but that's partly because YaYaWOT, who was there, reminded me of some things that happened after Camp ended that summer, things that are reflected in my journal from that period.

I've recently come to see that these people were flawed like we all are. If I cared about any of it now with anything like the emotion I felt then, I would be angry at them for not being much like how I imagined. When I asked for help then and didn't get it I thought it was because they were too busy to help, but now I think it may have been because they were too overwhelmed themselves. It was so long ago that I don't now remember if I was disappointed in them then. I suspect that I thought that they would fix everything, because they could do what was best for Camp. They were giants to me.

I didn't go to Odyssey the next year, a long story sort of related to this post. I don't know what happened in '98 but the program as I had known it ended that summer or in 1999. YaYaWOT says that partly happened because some people chose to honor a personal relationship over Odyssey ideals. It's too bad Odyssey was the casualty, because I thought then and think now that it was a powerful transformative experience and could have had a huge impact on our communities. Choosing friendship isn't a bad thing for humans to do.

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