Saturday, July 14, 2007

Home from Camp

I've been at camp for the past week, and it was great. OK, to the average outsider, it probably looked more like a week-long seminar on teaching techniques for Pre-AP Physics, but to me, it looked a whole lot like summer camp.

I packed my bag, left the family at home and "stayed over" for several nights.

At 8 AM on Monday, we gathered in the University Chapel for a welcome, announcements, introduction of the lead presenters, then our "counselors" for the week were introduced and we sorted ourselves into our cabin groups. There were 9 people in my group, and my Counselor's name was Mark.

My group (call us the Physics Nerds) came from small towns, larger towns, the inner city. Some had 30 or more years of teaching experience; some had next to none. If there had been a volleyball game, we probably would have lost, but afterward, we would have roasted marshmallows with the Chemistry Nerds and laughed about the game while secretly adding chemicals to the campfire to make it glow in strange colors.

We wore tags around our necks with our names and cabin groups typed on them and had to show our name tags to get into the dining hall where we filled our trays then sat at table clusters...with our cabin groups. If Mark got there late, we saved him a chair and waved wildly when he finally came through the door.

Our cabin had leaders and followers, those who had been to this camp before and knew all the rules and those who were brand new to the camping experience, talkers and observers. Two came together from the same school, and others of us discovered connections with others that we would never have suspected.

We had guest speakers, show-and-tell with projects and ideas from our home schools, and yes, even arts-and-crafts (have you ever made a model capacitor from common kitchen supplies?) We were given souvenirs to take home: a really, really heavy Physics textbook, a neon light bulb, a big bag with the camp logo printed on the side.

At the end of the week, we all exchanged e-mails and promised to keep in touch. Some will, some won't. We may meet again next summer, at this camp or a similar one. I packed the car and drove home, pondering the week's experiences.

Camp. What would summer be without it?

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