A few summers ago in a camp far, far away…

A few summers ago I taught Arts&Crafts at a YMCA overnight camp in Pennsylvania.  It was an interesting experience, taught me a lot about myself – things I knew, things I didn’t, and things I wish I had known before going there.  For the most part, I didn’t fit in.  Camp is kind of a place where you need to be a social creature and I…well…am not.

I think I was liked by many of the counselors there, which is good, because I liked most of them.  I also know that I was liked by many of the campers, enough of them flooded my room every day whenever possible.  A lot of them begged me to come back the next year and, while, I promised them I’d try, I haven’t gone back since.  Like I said, I didn’t fit in at camp.  Though if asked, I would definitely do it all over again.

Because it takes me about three months to feel comfortable around a person, and the job was only three months long, I didn’t manage to make a lot of friends.  I ended up spending most of my time in the Arts&Crafts room, which was fine with me.  I was very much in my element in that room and I ended up turning out some great pieces of art.

At least, I thought they were great at the time.

Anyhow, like any good artist, I snapped pictures of my work for prosperity (and possibly my portfolio) before greedy, college-aged counselors hoping to hang them in their dorms snatched them up.  That kind of makes me sound bitter about it, even though, I was actually quite flattered.

In a way, they were sort of responsible for my sudden spark of inspiration so letting them take the art was the least I could do.  You see, it all started with a game.  There was a particular night, every week, when the whole camp would play a game together.  Though the game was meant to be different and somewhat innovative each time, it usually ended up being the same exact thing (a sort of scavenger hunt type game…) only with different themes.

One such theme was Star Wars (as I sing along with the orchestral soundtrack vaguely reminisce of Indiana Jones…)

I did not paint this…

In the game, the kids would go do different areas of camp meant to represent different locations in the Star Wars movies.  To help set the scene, the camp director contracted me to create signs for each place and, even though she’d only meant for me to paint the location names on large sheets of butcher paper, I had a few days to make these signs so I figured I’d go all out.

Tentatively, I made one for the ‘Death Star’, just on black with the yellow lettering in ‘Star Wars’ font.  I didn’t snap a shot of it, but reflecting now, I wish I had.  Then I started on ‘Cloud City’.

 

By this time there was a bit of buzz around camp about what I was working on and a few counselors had stopped by to sing their praises.  Apparently, they did not know I (or anyone) could do that with butcher paper and tempera.  Emboldened, I started on the last one, Tatooine.

 

After the game, a bit of bickering began about the signs and who had claim to them.  I’d given one counselor permission to take them because she and her brother were huge Star Wars fans and I honestly didn’t care where they ended up (maybe I should’ve cared, but I hadn’t everything I did art-wise at this point).  I probably would have just trashed them.  It sorted itself out and apparently my cousin (who worked at the camp several times and had been the one to introduce me to it) walked away with at least one.

Later, the same Star Wars fan asked if I would make a sign for her brother, with his name and his favorite character, “Boba Fett” on it.  Because I’m a nice person (and I didn’t have anything better to do), I obliged.

 

Anyhow, those are samples of my artwork.  I don’t know if I’d call them good but the people at camp seemed to like them.  Feel free to let me know what you think.  Throughout the course of that summer, I was asked by other counselors to paint various things and maybe one day I’ll share those with you.

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