Monthly Archives: July 2016

Dekoven download

Every year after camp I write down impressions, ideas, problems, etc.  What went right, what went wrong.  It’s not usually things that I try to fix or change right away.  I like to let things percolate.  I write them down so I don’t forget, not as a to-do list.  I’m not looking for advice.

Some random impressions/notes after our first time at Dekoven in no particular order:

  • Doing camp at any new location is a lot harder for me as orchestrator – even if I have seen the place multiple times.
  • The meeting space situation is different than expected.  Dining, both Taylor and Great Hall, had Dekoven employees in and out during the morning and didn’t work for a morning group that needs for privacy.  The gym building is hot – maybe the gym itself is usable, but the party room with heat rising was stifling on hot days.  St. John’s Chapel was kind of private, but we needed to clear our stuff out for rehearsals and weddings during the week.  There are 7 or 8 comfortable private indoor spaces.  We could also potentially rent studio space from the spectrum art gallery on campus.  Some of the sleeping rooms could be used to host a smaller morning group – Warden for instance.
  • The meeting areas were much more even in terms of quality and comfort than meeting group areas at Nissokone.
  • Sunday at camp is very difficult for me personally, overwhelming.  I need to think of ways to make it work better.  This may include a bit of delegation, but I think I need to use a more creative form of delegation than what people usually mean by that.  Delegation works best when there’s a set routine.  Most of those ‘set tasks’ have already been handed off to someone at camp (new camper, mailbags, food, team leaders).  The things that tend to stress me early on are the smaller, less well defined, and more variable tasks.  Delegating those kind of items takes extra time but I actually have the least time on Sunday.
  • Sunday delegating possibility:  I may just create a big checklist of ‘could be done’ miscellaneous camp tasks and a box of related supplies – people could voluntarily take on one of these small chunks if/when they have the energy to do so early in the week.  Other campers could possibly add to the list with their own ’round tuit’ tasks.
  •  Dekoven feels very introvert friendly.  Both Nissokone and Dekoven seem better for introverts than Saugatuck was.
  • Performances need some overview.  One of the original intents of Logistics team was to keep track of performances .  That includes having people ‘pick two’ or the like (not being in all the performances) and encouraging people to limit their time on stage to leave space for others.  That will be worked on next year with logistics (this year doing the sound as a ‘team’ was their main focus).  The team is willing and able to work on that next year.
  • Most of the teams are doing great.  A few teams need help finding their groove.  (Caveat – I haven’t checked in with all the team leaders yet.)
    • The new connections team faltered under my team leadership.  I didn’t have the energy to give it the attention it deserved this year.  I think the connection team is probably needed more at Nissokone than at Dekoven.  It was harder to fall under the radar when we were all closer and interacting more.
    • The creative team seems to need help and/or revamping.  Should it go back to just hosting/lineups of performances?  It doesn’t feel like it works as a team (from the outside).
    • Gratitude team rocks!  In the second year they already feel like they’ve been around forever and have dedicated team members.  I did forget to include hosting Sharing on their list (  I need to add that.
  • I think the block parties went even better the second time.  They modeled the kind of flow (aka Saugatuck feel – serendipitous encounters outdoors and in) that  I haven’t felt in years.  And that flow filled the week. I loved the creativity shown at both parties.  Having the themes set early and having people able to choose the block party they host helped.  We need to make sure no one gets stuck in the role of ‘block party organizer’ by accident.  (The person running the block party meeting is not the organizer.)  That happened both years.
  • People valued room amenities differently than I expected and were confused by the room up charges.  If we return to Dekoven I will rethink those.IMG_1147
  • The intermissions in the longer shows are still wonderful.
    • Ideally I’d like to have the intermissions timed to coincide with the sunset.  This has been on my wishlist.
  • I would really encourage having Verne’s Camp Show Chorus perform at the end of the first half of camp show right before the intermission rather than at the very end.  Otherwise they have to stay to the very end of the show no matter what.
  • I’m glad that Logistics and Rendezvous worked out how to make the afternoon Cafe performances work in Assembly Hall so they didn’t have to constantly move sound equipment.
  • The stage/setup for Coffee House and Camp show in assembly hall were great.  I love the shape and height of the stage at Dekoven.  It seems like the best stage space we’ve ever had.
  • On the other hand, I’d like to have Cafe feel more intimate.  When I signed up for Cafe I was expecting it to feel less intimidating.  Being on a stage in front of a large amount of seating was hard.   Could we make a few small tweaks to the setup to make Cafe feel different from the bigger shows if we hold both in the same space?
  • I would love for some vespers to be outdoors.  Next year I want more of that.  Not every one needs to be, but it would be nice to have a few outdoors.
  • I really liked that there was an alternative women’s group offered on Wednesday night for those that didn’t want to do goddess exchange.  I would like it if an alternative to the men’s talking group were also made available that night (men’s drum circle, camp fire, poker, other?).
  • I was lucky that several angels stepped up to check people in.   Both Dekoven and Nissokone had hiccups of them telling me something was taken care (such as check-in at Dekoven) that wasn’t.  Perhaps I need a printed list of what the facility promised that I can verify ahead of time and hand to them the first day?
  • Sharing has been great (IMO) the last three years.  I love that people are sharing deeply, leaving enough room for others, sharing both good and the bad, and leaving politics (camp and otherwise) out of it.  We’re getting used to the idea that it’s ok and maybe even helpful to have an overall time limit.  The first year at Nissokone when we had to quit at a certain time due to another planned activity, people worried that it would ruin sharing.  It didn’t.  The year after that we ended early to join Nissokone’s candlelight ceremony.  That was lovely.  This year I just chose to have a time limit.  I think it actually helps sharing.  There are less long awkward pauses, sharing is deep and it leaves time for a nice transition into one last deep drink of camp.  Many of us had time for our favorite camp activities afterward – games, dancing, campfire.
  • It’s important for people to be aware of expectations for behavior.  Most of the time campers are helpful and kind.  We all make missteps.  It’s tough to ask someone to change their behavior when expectations haven’t been laid out clearly.  Something like a code of conduct could to be developed and shared.  It might take the form of a contract a camper makes with himself.  (Like Harold’s ‘I am an artist’ contracts.)
  • One perk I would love as orchestrator would be for someone to get me a cup of coffee in the morning – a coffee angel.  I may or may not want to spend a quiet moment with them, depending on the morning – and the ideal coffee angel would be ok either way.  I’m not a morning person and I need time before I hear complaints/questions or pretty much talk about anything.  Sometimes I’m not ready to be hugged.  It’s hard to make it all the way to the coffee and back without having one of those things happen.  (And I don’t really feel like making coffee in my room or cabin.)
  • People talked a lot more about their professions this week.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people ask me what I do for a living while I was at camp.  And I heard other people talking about it too.  Why is that?  I don’t mind and I love talking about my job.  One interesting and beautiful part of camp has been that I can feel that I am friends for life with another camper for years and years and connect with them deeply and fully without having any idea what they ‘do’.  Camp often seemed like a world away.
  • A lot of our campers REALLY like air conditioning, but we all want a different temperature.  I actually expected more people to dislike the air.  This was our first time anywhere with air conditioning.  I was surprised at how important it was.
  • Meals at both Dekoven and Nissokone have not had the same feel as meals at Saugatuck had.
    • At Saugatuck there were usually one or two times a week when I’d linger with someone after a meal.
    • Nissokone had an extra long line for the salad bar and after meals the room needing to be quickly cleaned to use for training.  I found I spent very little time sitting at the table having a conversation.  And if I did have a conversation going, I often would have preferred to have it continue, but that wasn’t really possible.
    • Dekoven had buffet service.  The actual time next to a person at the table was very short since people at your table could be anywhere in the line and would trickle back slowly.125_2541
    • The idea we added this week of calling tables up a few at a time for the buffet will continue wherever we go.  Maybe at Nissokone, some tables could hop for food while others start the salad bar line.
    • It’s difficult for the person calling the ‘penguin’ or ‘baboon’ table.  They don’t get to enjoy the extra table conversation time and end up last for everything.  Perhaps the order would be better chosen by pulling table names out of a hat so it’s less work for the announcer.  125_2542
  • I really liked the casual drop in breakfast at Dekoven.  Breakfast at camp has often been overwhelming for me.  I’ve usually opted to come later, when I can get a table in a quieter corner (and sleep in), but often the food is cold.  At Nissokone maybe we could create an easier breakfast feel by using the new outside deck seating around the dining hall for people that want a quieter morning meal.  (Note: remember to announce guidelines early in the week for leaving some places at Dekoven morning meals for the less mobile to eat right near the food if/when we go back.)
  • I love to dance at camp.  I love that people were asking for more of it.
  • I’d like to tweak the setup of Rendezvous at both places.  At Nissokone I would do it almost exactly the same as in 2015, but swap the notebag and the coffee areas.  At Dekoven I would spread things out more.  Having notebags, puzzles, games, music, coloring, and food all in one smaller room felt overwhelming for me (as an introvert).  I moved the food out (with permission) and would like to try either moving other things to other rooms on that floor or maybe have some of the items like coloring/puzzle tables or game tables in two locations.
  • Next time I’d like to find another quiet room to use at Dekoven and let the library be used for spreading out Rendezvous items.  I think Warden’s Study would be a nice quiet room option.  I don’t think it got too hot and it’s pretty low key there.  There are doors to close if needed.
  • I loved seeing all the games played at camp.  I felt like if I wanted to play a game I had the permission to just start a new one rather than deal with the awkwardness of joining an ongoing game.  I was invited to play games several times this week.   Several times I invited people to play games.  In the past I’ve rarely been asked to join games at camp and I never felt confident enough to ask others to join me in a game!  I really appreciate the game-players and the games block party for changing the paradigm and being so inclusive.
  • The croquet game in formal wear is one thing that I’d love to make a tradition on Friday late afternoon!  It was such a fun idea, but we barely got started before it was time for dinner.  I liked it so much that I’m going to request that Nissokone plant formal rose gardens for croquet games.



IMG_1156The discovery of emptiness is a kind of falling in love. There is a vertigo in it: we step off the cliff of what we know and are certain about.

—John Tarrant, “The Erotic Life of Emptiness