Monthly Archives: April 2016

BRFA – change by choice

After our first camp away from Saugatuck, we fell in love with Nissokone, but it had a few problems.   I asked you all to help me do a brain storm after camp of all the ways we could improve.  You weren’t shy!  I got hundreds of suggestions.  It was great.  It was inspiring.  And not surprisingly it was a bit overwhelming.

That summer I asked some campers to help me wade through all those great ideas.   We called ourselves ‘Be Ready For Anything’.   (Being ready for anything is such a powerful idea for me personally that I used it for the name of this blog.)  Most of the changes added in 2015 were born from your suggestions and mid-wived by our B.R.F.A. friends in the summer of 2014.

Here’s a list of the changes to camp in 2015:

  • We changed the names for Hospitality and Happy Hour.  They are now called Rendezvous (for the place) and Cafe (for the performance hour).
  • We tried a Moth storytelling hour for one of the Cafes
  • Block parties were added – one in the evening and one as an extended Cafe hour
  • We set aside a dedicated quiet hour in mid-afternoon – giving us free time to nap or go to the beach or whatever.  This was mostly unscheduled, with a few meditation offerings through the week.
  • Market Day gave us a chance to experience and purchase artwork from our talented campers.
  • We had a much quieter and personal opening.  The main, and maybe the only similarity to the opening in 2014, was that we walked there as a group.
  • Mailbags were changed to a durable and reusable set of hanging bags.
  • We moved Rendezvous (hospitality) to a more central location and moved all the comfy furniture in camp there to create a great gathering space with coffee service, mailbags, food, music and friendship – all in one room.
  • We added two new teams: Logistics (to handle who, what, where details of running camp) and Gratitude team.
  • We used printed forms for announcements.
  • We went back to a schedule board, with one for the whole week and one for daily updates.
  • We offered scholarships.
  • Registration entry was an interactive form online.
  • We donated an awesome coffee mug tree to Nissokone, complete with coffee mugs.  Thanks to Ike Iacobelli for our ‘cups of joy’.
  • We scheduled a shared meal with Nissokone staff earlier and liked it so much that we repeated it later in the week.
  • We joined Nissokone for their Friday rituals of dressing up and their candlelit lakeside service at dusk (we went after our sharing).

The BRFA changes worked great for us in 2015.  Stay tuned to read about the changes we can expect this coming summer.

New at Nissokone

Sometimes change comes and shakes us by the lapels.   That’s what happened to SaugForAll’s community in the 2010’s.  It’s been a decade of not knowing, and of being pushed out of our comfort zone.

In 2013 after several years of rumor and petitions and zoning, we finally got the sad news that all our donations, hopes, prayers and crossed fingers had fallen through.   The Presbyterian camp on Lake Michigan that we loved was sold.  We had to move on.

It shook us all up.IMG_3888

We needed to try to find a new space to have camp.  That however was just the beginning of the changes.  It was like one of those ‘spot the 10 differences’ puzzle, only there were more than 10 differences.

Here’s a list of most of the changes.  If you came to camp in 2014, see if you noticed all of these.   If you didn’t, this is what you missed.

  • Goodbye Saugatuck.  🙁    Hello Nissokone.  🙂
  • I became orchestrator.  (Involving tons of changes behind the scenes, me leading morning group leader meeting, talking into a microphone more times than I ever had before in my life, learning about accounting and law and insurance, etc.)
  • I moved the coffeehouse to Monday evening to spread out the evening performances a bit more.
  • Name change: music team is now creative team to emphasize that we welcome all kinds of creativity, both in performances and in other ways, not only music.
  • The budget changed since we had promised to keep prices the same, but Nissokone costs more.  This meant cutting back on paid positions quite a bit.
  • We were spoiled by having one bathroom per two campers.
  • We were a bit surprised that they had no coffee mugs or curtains.
  • The grand opening – we had an opening extravaganza with costumes and dancing and pageantry.
  • We walked across camp to get to that opening.
  • Because of an extra closing ceremony on Friday night, sharing had an established end time.
  • We took the omsbuddy idea to the next level and created an omsbud team.
  • The omsbuds were able to peel off a subteam midweek – the tastebuds – who helped our campers with special food requests and helped the kitchen staff too.  This was an idea that was way overdue!
  • Mailbags were indoors.  The porches at Nissokone weren’t as large and/or as sheltered as the one in Saugatuck, so we adapted.
  • We set up a hybrid hospitality/performance area in the theater.  In the past food and performance areas were separated.  This year we had it all in one room, along with mailbags and, later, jewelry making.
  • We shared our camp with a large group of Nissokone Summer Staff who were there for training.
  • We got to know
    the Nissokone staff, including enjoying one meal where we all sat together.
  • Because of the distance between locations, some campers with mobility issues were able to drive their cars around camp.  (Unless they were immobile on their driving foot like I was that summer!)

I think that in the process of our summer at Nissokone we, as a group, changed.  We faced new challenges – figuring out how to get ice and where to find wi-fi (good luck!) and navigating new territory.

I think we blossomed in the process.  People were coming up with creative solutions and working together to make things work.  The energy from our young friends at Nissokone enlivened our group.  

Best of all we learned that there is camp after Saugatuck.  And it’s better than ever!