A Different Sort of Summer Camp Experience

If I had to capture my dominant emotion from my experience at Camp GLP in one word it would be loneliness. And if I could add a second word, it would be sadness.

It’s always interesting what happens when you shake up your normal patterns of life… When you go to a space and environment that is totally unlike where you normally spend your days.

Such times open you to seeing things from a different perspective. They force your mind to notice in a different way.

And so it was for me when I arrived, via a yellow school bus, for four days of summer camp (a gathering of remarkable people from across the globe for a weekend of fun, workshops, connection, and an exploration of what it means to live a good life).

So much energy! So many extremely happy people. Why wasn’t I as enthusiastic?

So many new faces… Why was I resisting going up and just talking to everyone? What kept holding me back?

Old friends that I’ve lost contact with… Why I haven’t I kept up with all of them? They’re so amazing.

Such great people everywhere. Deep conversations sparked at a moments notice… Why is that so rare to my life?

Jonathan Fields speaking on the significance of connection — connection to others… Damn, that bucket is rather empty right now.

Story Circles (using art as a tool for self-inquiry) with Cassia Cogger… Haunting how that sense of being alone kept popping up — unveiled in the patterns of my pen.

Stepping into the group meditation on Saturday morning… So much peace, so much calm, so much connection… The first tears started to fall.

Walking through the cold and rain… everything in me wanting to hide, to follow my normal pattern, to deny it, to pretend that everything was OK even when it wasn’t. But I stayed with it. I allowed what came to come.

A workshop with Robin Hallett… one that I wasn’t even scheduled to be at but felt called to somehow… one that I still nearly skipped at the last minute… one where it all broke open…

Tears fall (even now a few drops bead in my eyes at the memory). That loneliness. That sadness.

The searing cost of hiding for so many years… of pushing people away… of trying to be perfect… of refusing others to see me… of refusing to let others help me… of denying it all…

It all came crashing down.

And something shifted. Something deep shifted.

Walking to the lake. Watching the mist ghost across the surface of the water. Watching the rain drops ripple. Hearing the pattering sound of droplets upon the leaves.

I find my edge…

Compassion. Full and complete openness. To speak into the pain of another and offer healing… not because I’m here to sell… but because I’m a human being and we see each other.

To be seen. To need others. To no longer walk alone.

To embody the words of the Swahili proverb, “Mtu ni watu (a person is people).”

Perhaps it’s all best captured in a blend of tea I created with Brandon Ford. It’s a green tea… inspired by the forest floor.

Grounded and rooted…

A community… not a single, solitary tree…

And beneath the open, ever-changing sky…

Thank you all for being a part of my life. You are a gift to me.

16 thoughts on “A Different Sort of Summer Camp Experience”

  1. Wow, I know someone who went to Camp GLP! You’ll have to tell us more.

    It sounds like it was life changing.

    Your post was riveting, but I still don’t know if you had a good time.

    Don’t be sad. Have compassion for yourself and your past. You are a wonderful contributor to your community, which is everyone who knows you.

    I’m glad I do.

    1. Rex, Yes, I did have a good time… interesting workshops (I took a number of art related ones), great people, and more. Though the growth/opening/connection was my biggest takeaway.

      Re: sadness… It’s been powerful accepting and being present to it… allowing my whole experience to be there instead of pushing it away.

      And thanks for all your continued support. So glad you’re here.

  2. There’s a thread going through some of the things I’m reading/watching today.

    The thread is noticing where we want to, or do, look away. Where we look away from the things that are hard to face. It was directly stated in John Green’s vlogbrother video today (he was sharing some of his experience in Ethiopia) and made me think about how I might be looking away in my business or personal life.

    And then I read your post today. Where you chose not to look away, but be present with what you were feeling. That’s very powerful.

    This feels like it’s part of a bigger conversation and a more personal learning for us all.

    Thank you.

    1. Evie, Yeah, being present is indeed a bigger conversation. Thanks for joining in.

      It’s hard to be present to difficult things. I find my tendency is to want to avoid pain. Trouble is… that’s part of my experience of life. So when I push it away, I’m distancing myself from what’s really happening.

      I’m learning that when I accept and be present with what’s happening, it creates a space for genuine compassion and healing.

  3. Thanks for opening your heart, for being so vulnerable. May “joy come in the morning” as you act on changing perspectives. We love you!

  4. Josh , thanks for the sincerity. And I agree ,even sadness has a place in it all. I remember an amusing article I read I think in Time magazine. The theme was that they measured peoples optimism in relationship with the result and found that overall people are more optimistic than life turns out. Most people think they will never get divorced when most people do – kind of a thing.

    Bottom line is that the author concluded- whether it is true or not who knows- that people who are slightly depressed actually see life more accurately!!!! Is that funny or what. Well if it is true , it might mean that when we are down maybe we are getting a handle on some aspects of life we otherwise might not. Take care my friend. Tom

    1. There’s truth in that. And there’s a lot to be said to seeing the world accurately.

      In fact, I’m learning that to truly live is to see of it… the fullness of the joy and the depth of the suffering… and then dance anyways.

  5. Thank you Josh.

    You so beautifully described many of the thoughts and feelings that I had at camp and still have now. And I think a lot of us felt the same way.

    I’m SO GLAD I got to meet you. I’m SO GLAD you found your edge! I think I found a piece of mine too. 🙂

    Bill

  6. Josh! WOW. *Thank you* for sharing your experience of camp so openly. I connected with you in the very last moments of the weekend…in the van on the way to the airport, and then in the airport, all the way up to our separate gates. One thing I noticed? You kept coming over. You kept connecting. YOU kept connecting! Camp had worked its magic on you, to be sure, and you did the immensely courageous work of choosing to be open to process of what showed up. Bravo, sir. Truly. I’m so glad I got to witness a brief part of your journey!

    1. Thank you for being a part of it, Laura.

      It was a pleasure connecting with you, even it wasn’t till the end. Though in some ways, you could probably call it the beginning. 😉

  7. Josh, I saw your piece listed among’s Jonathan’s recap today. Good to read your reflections, though they had a sad, wistfulness to them. I often feel a sense of disconnect and of having been hidden for a long time too, so I can relate. Good to know you surfaced to breathe the good air. Keep writing—you do it well.

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