Summer Camp: Reflections

Private journal of CT

We’ve wrapped up Session 1, and my heart broke three times, one for every good-bye. Em and Free-Jon are staying through Session 2, or my heart would have broken five times.


I had no idea I could come to love these kids so much in such a short time!

I’ve got great memories: Arabella racing everywhere with this big happy grin on her face!


Zerxes dancing like he was born to it.


Corey showing acts of kindness to each and every one of us.


We really became a group during these past few days.

We’ll stay in touch, of that I’m sure, and I predict there will be visits back and forth.

On the last morning, Free and I discovered that Zerxes is from another planet. Zerxes was feeling very playful, and he began to glow with a purplish light. I was so proud of Free–he just smiled and liked Zerxes even better. Of course, as the intergalactic mailman, Free-Jon’s best customers are from other planets, so it’s natural he feels comfortable with those who aren’t from around here.


Neither Free nor I told the others. We understand that this is Zerxes’ choice to reveal or conceal his true identity, and with Arabella living in the same town he does, he may have reasons for keeping his alien origins hidden from her–and his other neighbors.

I was not surprised at this discovery. So much of who Zerxes is now fits. And I had begun to suspect something when I heard Zerxes’ story. His description of unity and the swirling purple feelings of universal love reminded me of dreams I’ve had in which I lived on a place I call “The Purple Planet.” In those dreams, I myself am a resident of that planet, with purple skin, compound eyes, and a different musculoskeletal system. It’s a different lifetime. I’ve felt a kinship with Zerxes–and now I know why.


So, Free and Emelia are staying on through Session 2. Free is scheduled to visit his Wolff cousins soon, and rather than return home just to leave again, his parents and I decided he’d stay here and one of his cousins will stop by to pick him up at the end of the second session, when the Wolffs are expecting him.


Emelia has an open invitation to stay at camp all summer if she wants. I’ve told her she’ll always have a home with me. As a young adult in a child’s body, she doesn’t have the same freedom that she did when the game recognized her as a young adult: she can’t just live where she chooses. She needs to be in a home with someone that the game recognizes as an adult. She accepts these limitations–she knew them before she decided to return to childhood. And so I’ve let her know that if she ever just needs a home where she can just be, she can stay with me, and she’ll have all the freedom that she needs, or at least as much as we can give her within the limitations of the game.


Through this first session, I’ve felt so grateful that Joel agreed to be a counselor with me. His understanding of the children and his compassion have helped to create this community of friendship. It wasn’t that long ago that Joel was a child himself, and he’s kept his child inside alive and strong. It’s one of his greatest gifts, though he gets a lot of recognition for his maturity and wisdom, for when he draws from that center of childhood within, he brings creativity, imagination, innocence, and enthusiasm to all he does. I hope he keeps that child alive inside when he’s as old as me or older!


I’ve been criticized before for talking to children like they were adults and to adults like they were children. Yet it is because when I talk with those called “adults,” I see within them that child inside–that boy or girl that they once were and that they still are inside. Not always, but sometimes, that’s who I talk to. And with children, I recognize that they are individuals, deserving of all the respect and dignity due to any individual.


When the educator John Holt examined the idea of authentic learning more and more deeply, he eventually reached a place where he understood that it was the cultural institution of childhood that formed a prison–it was this notion that “childhood” is somehow separate that formed limitations and restrictions that hinder all of us. I understand what he is saying. We are never “grown up.” We are growing, developing, changing individuals throughout our lives, and to impose a false boundary on a stage of life which is part of continuity imposes unnecessary limits.

We reach maturity–and we continue to mature.

We reach old age–and we continue to experience youth and innocence within.

There is no set border–Corey Pace in his childhood already contains the inherent dignity of being an individual.

Joel, I, Fey Johnson–every “adult”–we contain within ourselves that same core of wonder and imagination that we had when we were five. Sometimes, we need reminders to listen to that child. Sometimes, we need to clear away stuff or take care of a few needs first, before that child feels safe enough to emerge, but for all of us, that child inside is there, waiting to look out of our eyes with wonder.

Kids at heart

It’s a summer camp for kids–but for the kids in all of us. And more, it’s a place where all of us–kids and “adults” alike–can experience the wholeness of being just who we are.