While there has been a lot of discussion of “creating space” on this blog (and generally is at any Wayfinder event), little focus has been given to what kind of space Wayfinder is to begin with. It may seem kind of strange to try and diagnose a space which has no connection to a specific location (our office and storage facility notwithstanding, there is no one place which contains the Wayfinder Experience), but for the purpose of discussion space refers to whatever space we occupy together as a community and not the land itself. Wayfinder exists as a transformational space. The nature of this movement, combined with the variable make up of community members (both staff and participants) at any event, and the type of personal, introspective work we do allows transformations from community members to go unquestioned.
Transformational spaces are necessary and often produced accidentally. Wayfinder has something special in that we conscientiously produce this space. The transformation aspect of camp would be present whether or not Wayfinder was a LARP space. Bringing together people of the ages of our participants (8-16) and staff pool (16+) is guaranteed to include transformation. At those ages people are spending time crafting who they will be as adults, with different levels of awareness. Wayfinder provides space to try on different personalities and social roles, both through everyday interaction and creating characters with which we play out pieces of ourselves we may not get a chance to any other time. People come to Wayfinder as they are forming personalities, choosing the directions they want to take their lives, and needing space to process things they cannot in their everyday lives. We offer a space that can contain all of these types of transformations.
I would be remiss to write about transformation and not give some time over in the discussion to the LARP aspect of our camp. Each week participants are offered at least one roleplay experience in which they can be essentially whoever and whatever they want to be. There are some constraints put on the characters (players may be told they’re from a specific place or given some other game world conditions) but within those players can explore whatever aspects of themselves that they wish. If you want to play a character who is fearful or talkative or anything in between it’s entirely up to you. Exploring these roles gives us a chance to see ways we could be in our everyday lives, if we chose to do so. A couple weeks ago Max Friedlich talked about going into some business situations and just treating them as if they were roleplay events. I know I have applied some of the rules of status or improv that we teach and applied them to social situations. You get to be whoever you want to be in life. Wayfinder simply offers you a place to craft that personality and reflect on it.
Constructing an identity is a difficult and endless process. You will never stop changing, no matter how old you get, so we must all be aware of the pieces of ourselves that are new and different at any particular time. Through being at Wayfinder, roleplaying and doing trust work, we can see a lot about who we are. While the work that we do gives a chance for you to explore every facet of self and personality, that is not all that is required in the process of forming a self. The reflection that we give space for is maybe more important. Space is made each week for discussion of self, something that you do not often find places to do. Within the community there are people you can trust both to hear about your struggles and offer feedback should you be looking for it. Knowing that other people in that space are going through that same process is one of the ways you know you can trust them with yours.
That kind of shared transformation is so often the basis of our relationships. People become friends as they start new jobs, at new schools, or in new places. Having some new shared discomfort allows for people to be on an even playing ground. No matter how long you’ve been at Wayfinder you are given a chance for this kind of shared transformation every week. We turn the land into whatever world we will be playing in for that week, and we turn ourselves into whatever characters we have constructed throughout the week. Any space that we create only exists for a week at a time, but the transformations we undergo can last a lifetime.
Written by Judson Easton Packard
Published on 6/3/2017