Parting is such sweet sorrow. I’ll admit it, the student’s goodbyes to one another (both the teary-eyed variety and the dry-eyed) got to me. These students have been through a lot together, even though it’s only been three weeks. If our plays this session have taught me anything it’s that even the briefest of encounters with others can affect you.
I have been considering how I want to frame this last post of session one (Posts on extended experience week and session two are coming soon!) I thought about recapping everything the students have done, but it seemed to me one could just look at the other blog posts for that. I thought about talking about how these students have grown as artists, which was closer, but I feel like previous posts have covered that too. I had to consider, what haven’t we covered yet?
The answer became clear to me in the aftermath of these goodbyes. I haven’t yet talked about how these students have grown as people. While we are a theater camp, at the end of the day we are looking for more growth than just growth as theater artists. We are looking for growth as people.
This camp can be hard at times. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of new things thrown at you at once. Additionally, for many of our students, this is an entirely new environment and even for returning campers it’s never going to be the same experience twice. We are putting our campers in a liminal space, a space in between home and I’m grown up and leaving home.
In storytelling (of which all our students partake in) liminal spaces are important because they are where growth occurs for a protagonist. The protagonist leaves (or is thrust out of) their stasis and into a world of the unknown. The protagonist must then navigate the world of the unknown and in doing so may return back to their stasis having undergone growth.
Similarly, by placing these students into a (much safer) liminal space, our students are able to navigate a new world and in doing so come out changed. They learn how to navigate hard days not just from an artistic perspective but also an emotional and human perspective. How do you face a challenge and come through the other side? How do you navigate working with people you just met? How do you handle change? I have seen each and every one of these students grow. I have seen them become stronger, or more confident, or more empathetic, or more organized, etc.
I can say with 100% honesty that it has been an absolute pleasure to meet, work with, and get to know these students. And if there is any note I want to end on it’s that the best gift this camp gives its students are each other. Students help other students grow, as collaborators and as friends. Seeing that was a privilege that I don’t take lightly. I can’t wait to do it again.