CLA: Philosophy Camp

May 31, 2007

Just a day

Last night was the first night I've failed to blog. I'd just been up far too late to write anything.

Today started off a little alarmest, but everything chilled down once we got to talking with the students. We had a nice easy learning circle after a community meeting. Lynn had been worried that we wouldn't have enough food for lunch, but Sondra, confident in her team's abilities, quelled all fears, and today's lunch turned out to be a great one.

I don't feel like I accomplished much today. I did have a wonderful three-hour nap. I also learned a lot of sewing machine basics from Sandra, and cut my hair (Kristen trimmed up the back afterwards for me). There was a nice, spontaneous assembly of people in the kitchen- singing and conversation (now that I think about it, people were attracted in by Sondra and Nathan's cookies).

In-all, a nice, low key day for me, despite some hard anxiety at the very start.


Posted by poth0018 at 12:42 AM

May 29, 2007

Token Blog Post

Today there was nothing scheduled during our potentially free times, and that was nice. Kelly led a how to embroider patches session, and I started on an impossible triangle. I can remember doing something like that once in grade school (a dragon, very poorly), but not since. I'm excited to finish this one.

Started making a kite, too. I wanted to make a kite designed for ridiculously strong wind- the kind that Lynn won't fly in for fear of damaging her kites- only to find out that Lynn's box kite can fly in this weather. Oh well.

I feel like my having not tied up all the loose ends with the picture archieving is actually hurting the students now that this picture and text project is due tomorrow. I have to keep telling myself that I've had to work under far worse systems.

I think that's enough to count as an entry for tonight.

Posted by poth0018 at 2:46 AM

May 27, 2007


At philosophy camp, Sunday is the only day we get off, and we get it off from 8 pm Saturday until 7 pm Sunday, because we're hardcore like that.

So my weekend started at eight today, and boy is it nice. I am gratefully looking forward sleeping without an alarm clock tonight. I'm pretty curious what time I'll wake up- will the sun and clamor of fun awake me? I've had to wake up an hour before the students do, so I don't know. Will I naturally wake up around my normalized 8 am alarm? Will I sleep through 3:30 dinner preparations my earliest and only (voluntary) obligation?

Adam's birthday is tomorrow, and there have been a few preparations. It should be fun. Happy birthday Adam!

Well, I'm to bed; to all a goodnight,

Posted by poth0018 at 2:01 AM

May 26, 2007

Working, sharing, and napping

Tonight is the first night I don't really want to write a blog entry. But I'm still really proud of doing it nightly, and I know that it's much easier for me if I don't break the pattern.

Today I was in a total of five hours of instructor meetings: one hour for our daily 8 am before the students wake up, two hours of fellow debriefing, and two hours going over students' "How I hope to grow" papers. I really had no idea how much effort the instructors put into this seemingly effortless class.

The learning circle topic today, think of a time when you experienced a shift in hope, was pretty intense. A lot of emotion, a lot of deep/difficult stories. It was good. It remains to be seen whether the deep openness bonded us together more.

I also managed to catch a nice hour long nap before dinner. They let me sleep past the beginning of dinner, so after I was woken up I think I let myself fall asleep again. I got to dinner about fifteen minutes late, after a second student had been sent to wake me up.


Posted by poth0018 at 1:39 AM

May 25, 2007

Inside or Out?

First, a thought from yesterday.

I was in the studio, and there were two students there with me, Ben and Oren. Ben was working a book binding (of the sort I had done only the day before), and Oren was working on a computer task that I should have been totally on top of. Part of the reason I'm an apprentice is to help out in the studio when Nance can't, and I was trying. The lesson was that I have grossly underestimated Nance's work. Even if I had been only trying to help one of them, I don't think I could have done so well as I've seen Nance do for half a dozen students. I'm especially admiring Nance's ability to guide students through a project in a way so that they do everything themselves, but without many avoidable mistakes, and learn the process. I'm studying my memories of Nance and I'll be trying to apply them throughout the course in an effort to become better at teaching.

Now, about Adam in particular, but the course in general.

Adam clearly has the potential to destroy me as an apprentice instructor. His wonderful discussions could keep me up way too late every night; he could just bank on his extra instructor-meeting-free hour of rest and drive me to the brink of sleep-deprived insanity. That's to say nothing of distracting me from my duties as an apprentice instructor, whatever those are. His opinions are consistently on the positions I both disagree with and respect the most, and he doesn't let me get away with a thing I don't want to.

And sleep is clearly becoming an issue. It seems like sleep is a place you can cut back on to miss less at philosophy camp. That is only true to a point: after that point, sleep will clutch you at the times you most want to be apart of the waking world. I'm already starting to drift off at important moments- moment I don't want to miss. Tomorrow is Friday, hopefully the weekend will bring me opportunities to sleep without missing much.

Speaking of sleep...


Posted by poth0018 at 3:13 AM

May 24, 2007

Seems like I'll need to prioritize sleep soon.

Today was a lot of fun. The instructors decided that we could use an easier day, so they didn't schedule anything in the evening, which meant that we got to schedule informal things for the first time.

I got to start a read-aloud group with Kelly, Ben, John, and Laura. We read two stories from Welcome to the Monkey House, switching readers every page and John read a poem. Changing readers that often was interesting- it's more often than I'd choose, but then the stories were short and I kind of liked the way it pulled everyone in the group in. It also seemed like every time the book was passed the timing was either appropriate or suspenseful.

The reading group was quickly followed by a bon fire. S'mores, discussion, continuous music, played with photography in the poor light a lot. I hate using the flash on people. I got a lot of cool lighting effects from the fire (and even more completely useless shots), pictures of the fire, pictures of the fire reflected in people's glasses, and had some fun with Ben playing with 15 second exposure, darkness, and glowing embers.

The bon fire went late, but the spawned discussion went later- back to the library, where we talked until three.

And I smell like campfire, so I definitely have to make time to take a thorough shower in the morning before the instructor meeting.

On the note of being short on sleep I leave you,

Posted by poth0018 at 3:08 AM

May 23, 2007

First full day

So it's day two, and I had to think really hard about which day it is. Either we fit more into the days here than I'm used to, or I just can't count to two.

I woke up minutes before the instructor meeting today (more time than I'm used to). We did a circle of concerns (more positive than that makes it sound), agreed on a learning circle topic, discussed the "how I want to grow" assignment, re-examined the circle topic in light of the "how I want to grow" topic, past 8:45, then quickly decided all those things, assigned instructors student advisees, and put away breakfast before the 9:00 acknowledgment circle.

The learning circle topic was on a place that is significant to you (those of you not at camp are welcome to write a comment in which you dig back into your memory and tell a story about a place that has significance to you, where you felt nurtured, where you are noticed). There was some enthusiastic cross talk at the end, but it didn't touch on the blurb I was the most stricken by: in John's story, he planted some trees, then goes back later and describes the trees as being over fifty years old. There are fifty year old trees that he's planted. he can say, "I have planted trees that are fifty years old." Wow. Somehow, considering a tree that's fifty years old inspires respect for the tree. I don't tend to think of pentagenarians as weathered, strong, or even as experienced as I think of a fifty-year-old tree. I should try to (well, more so than a tree). The event made me search back in my memory for the earliest tree I can claim to have planted. I should keep track of it, so that I can sooner say, "I have planted a tree that is fifty years old."


Posted by poth0018 at 1:30 AM

May 22, 2007

The Students Arrive

Spent a lot of time ironing out networking today. Most of the road blocks turned out to be pretty physical problems, with solutions like unplugging and replugging the router, remembering to push the power button on the external hard drive. Now everything is working to every computer, and the wireless network should reach almost everywhere in the building. And I can print from my Ubuntu laptop over the wireless. (haven't figured out accessing the shared drive yet.)

I sort of felt guilty because I got to play with computers and avoid most of the work, but I keep telling myself that everyone else thinks I am doing work.

The students arrived in pairs between noon and one, and things went very smoothly considering how little we discussed how to greet them. I'm trying not to start too many sentences with "last year...". I already like a lot of the people here.

It looks like I'm getting to bed around one tonight. That's pretty good for me. I was up after most people had gone to bed in the studio with Ben and Sondra. I like those times, each working on different projects, and too involved or wound up to leave.


Posted by poth0018 at 12:38 AM

May 20, 2007

Relaxation, Preparation, Exhaustion

I think that a simple anecdote explains a lot of the relief of being here: a few days after arriving, I become aware that my wallet and keys, which I keep always in my pockets, are useless. I leave them on my nightstand.

Today there was a fair amount of preparation. I was the last one awake, and found everyone in the dinning room, setting up the shelving for what will be our library. Today's activities also included setting up the studio (Nance and the two fellows have arrived), deciding on and arranging the dining room tables, setting up the wireless philosophy network (shared printer, internet, and hard drive- will I ever get it working on this laptop?), and a local grocery run.

It's really cool that this class is taught by veteran professors, in the rural prairie, with emphasis on natural food and doing-it-yourself, and makes really effective use of technology.

Tomorrow will be my first day waking up at eight. The worst part of being an apprentice instructor will doubtlessly be that the instructors meet an hour before the students have to wake up.


Posted by poth0018 at 10:35 PM

May 19, 2007


Today I arrived at Philosophy Camp. I helped pack things, then wondered around a little looking for ways to be helpful, then quickly fell asleep- a symptom of late-night/early morning packing. John woke me up for dinner- a simple affair compared to what it will be when more people are here. So far it is only John, Lynn, Joanne, Kristen, and myself.

It's pretty strange to be here again. Immediately after arriving I realized that I had been certain that this place would exist for me only in memory. Now I'm here and SHF has been torn out of my past and thrown into my immediate future. The interlude before students arrive is particularly unnerving: empty, the building feels foreign. I had expected all of this time to be frantic preparation for camp, but the others are surprisingly leisurely.

Fortunately my anxiety seems to be gone. Is it the prairie that's so relaxing? Seeing Lynn and John settle into their element? Leaving so many worries in Minneapolis- that might be it, since my pulse jumped when I thought over the things I should have finished before I left. Regardless, the anxiety is gone. Now I am excited, deep inside, and calm.

Kristen's made Pudding!


Posted by poth0018 at 8:33 PM

May 17, 2006

Holding the Space in 2006

Welcome to the Philosophy Camp 2006 instructors' blog. Philosophy Camp is a four-week living education experience associated with the University of MInnesota course Philosophy 4326--Lives Worth Living: Questions of Self, Vocation, and Community held at a retreat center in southwestern Minnesota from May 22 through June 16, 2006. This space has been provided for the members of the instructional team to share their experiences, observations, and reflections on "holding a space" for individual and group learning and growth during their time on the prairie.

Posted by engl8813 at 1:29 AM