There are a lot of words that get thrown around (both at camp and outside of it) until they become so called buzzwords and lose any semblance of meaning. Some of them particularly pertain to Wayfinder. Community. Trust. Fairy Realm. OK, that last one still means a whole lot, but the other two can be a little hazy. In the weeks where we’re not looking at what members of our community are up to nowadays, and how they’ve taken the lessons of camp and put some of those to work for them in their daily lives, this space will be used (among other things) to talk about some of the deeper ideals that might not always get the in depth attention they deserve. I’m going to start with trust. It’s going to take me more than one entry to fully unpack trust, what it is, and what it means to camp, particularly because the word can be used in so many ways to mean so many things, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to be talking about communal trust, the kind of trust that stretches past any one relationship in a group and is given over to the everyone who occupies that space. It’s a kind of trust that we’re always building, even when we may not be aware of it.
Communal trust is a little different than the trust we are used to talking about. Usually we talk about trust as it exists on a person to person basis. Communal trust is something much bigger, something we’re much less likely to deal with in our everyday lives, primarily because you need to be rooted in a community in order to build is. Wayfinder is exactly that. To be clear I have a pretty exact idea of what my community looks like. When I imagine Wayfinder community I think of the faces of people I started meeting when I was 13 years old. The people who taught me how to live in that space, who I put so much work into forming myself after. It also includes the faces of 7 year olds whose parents snuck them into one of our day camps, changing a birthday on their form to make sure they can get into “that cool camp with the swords.” And every single face that I picture is someone that I trust. Not necessarily here are the keys to my car trust, but definitely I am comfortable being me in front of you and going to a fantastical world with you trust. It’s not that common of a thing to have an amorphous group of people (it’s hard to say who will be at any event seeing as that is reliant upon both hiring and the schedule of our dear participants) who you trust completely with yourself. Given that amorphous nature the collection of faces around the circle at any two camps is never going to be the same.
Even so we have groups of people who come sit in these circles, with people they might have just met, people they may never see again, and share their realest selves with no hesitation. Even if we don’t talk about it as much, or dedicate workshops to it, that kind of trust is still carefully crafted. It’s the basis on which we build pretty much everything else. A lot of different pieces of what we do go into building that but the frame of each day is a good place to start examining it. We open every day (whether at day camps or overnights) with a circle. Everyone sits down together and gets a chance to share about how they are feeling, to ask questions, to bring up concerns. People own up to mistakes and make apologies. They hand out appreciations. At the beginning and end of every week we have a circle where people get the chance to talk about what the experience means to them, to take a second to appreciate exactly what we do together at camp. It also comes in the form of the adventure game. Every time you play a game you end up playing roles with people you don’t expect to, having intensely emotional experiences in character with people you may have never had those with in real life. The fact is that no matter who you end up playing with you know that everyone will be playing their hardest. Everyone will go to those places with you. Wayfinder brings a place where you can show up and know that no matter who is at camp that particular week, you’re going to get people who are there bringing openness and acceptance. You’re going to get people there who come prepared to play, who are ready to match your intensity at every turn. If nothing else, you’re going to find people there who you can trust. Every. Last. One of them.
Written by Judson Easton Packard