Ahoy families, loved ones, and other far-flung friends,
My name is Sam and I will be your blogger and trusted guide this week. I hope to capture and share with you as many moments from Overnight Camp as I can - of projects coming together in spectacular ways (and of them falling apart, too!), of exuberant inspiration and delirious silliness, of friendships blossoming, and of tinkering in its many joyful forms. At this very moment, as I write you, all of the kids and Collaborators are huddled together in the conference center, sipping hot chocolate and munching on a post-dinner watermelon slice. A few are playing Bananagrams. Daniel's showing a group how to make whipped cream with a drill-powered whisk. Others are hunched over the communal table, deeply immersed in a Roald Dahl book. Like some of the campers, this is my first week ever at camp and it's clear that this is a special place where everyone can be themselves, try new things, and feel at peace amid the goats and roosters of Elkus Ranch. I can't wait for the rest of the week to reveal itself, but first, let's look back at today...
Today got started, as first days of camp tend to do, with campers and their families checking in, setting up their sleeping areas, and selecting a code name. In our community, we have now welcomed a "Sour Head", a "Crash", a "Tsunami", a "Mochi", a "Minifig", and even a "Danielsaurus" - among many others. Caroline, Reilly, and Luke got straight to work, brainstorming code names for the yurts we'll be living in this week - all Star Wars-themed: the "Millennium Falcon", "Death Star", and the "Forest Planet of Endor". (At night, if you squint a little, the yurts do look a little bit like Uncle Ben's hut from Tatooine.)
In the conference center, Seb and Ronin fiddled with a cardboard box and differently-sized gears to design wobble-mobiles that rolled, launched, and crash-landed into a pile of straws and strawberry baskets.
Anabella worked with her family to build an incredible machine creature with a snout that could rotate 360 degrees.
And Olivia built a drawing tool that transformed from a marker into a pencil into an eraser depending on the direction you twisted the gear.
Once we all settled in, we walked up the hill together to the build site and oriented ourselves to our new tools. Jack and Caroline taught us about the three things a drill can be used for ("pushing a screw in, pulling a screw out, and making holes") and why we avoid "victory drilling" (pulling the drill trigger as a celebratory practice - unsafe.) Julie provoked us to build a free-standing tower taller than she was out of scrap wood and clamps. And Kaitlyn showed us how to safely use the chop-saw. Kids leaned on each other to hold their wood secure, to lift an 8' beam into the sky, and to ensure everyone stood ready with a thumbs-up sign before making their cuts.
Oh - and Daniel took us on a tour around the ranch and showed us the very important distinction between poison oak and blackberries, which we all found delicious, especially Anabella!
As we traveled down the hill back to the conference center for dinner, we discovered new ways to make the trek faster and more fun: riding belly-down on Reilly's back, cruising in the wagon, and hanging out the sun roof of Loren's car, arms flapping in the breeze. The walk back I've been told is precisely the length of seven flights of stairs. It doesn't feel that long when you're riding or cruising or flapping - or when there's goats to say hello to - or when you're with people that you love.
It's the end of Day 1 and everyone's tucked away, except Daniel and Charlie who are playing one last round of late-night checkers. Cleaning up the conference center, I found a blueprint that Seb drew at the very end of dinner for a new kind of wagon that the "Death Star" (the boys' yurt) will start to build tomorrow. I didn't understand the drawing at first until Seb explained it to me. I can't wait to see it start to take shape tomorrow. There are very few things in life more beautiful than watching someone's passionate idea become real.