The first time I heard about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (aka just plain “Michigan,” in my hippie youth), I thought it sounded exactly like summer camp for grownups. Wow, was that a long time ago.
In this millennium, there are suddenly all kinds of summer camps for adults: guitar camp, digital detox camp, yoga camp, sailing camp, coding camp, dude ranch camp (actually not sure about that; I might just be thinking of City Slickers). And of course there are now so many knitting camps, all of which I’m pretty sure would cream the guitar camp guys across the lake at horseshoes. Not for nuthin’ is our forearm strength the stuff of legend.
I really do hope that everyone who longs to go to knitting camp gets a chance, either this year or very soon. But if you’re not going away to knit under the pines and sleep under the stars, or even if you are but it’s hardly going to be long enough—how could it, really?—here are some ideas for organizing your own custom adventure with like-minded campers this summer.
Because you know what they say about self-care: even better when we do it together.
Crafting Skills Acquisition
Crafts are a natural fit for a self-organized summer camp. You could go broad, like they do at sleepaway camp: do a little macramé, a little embroidery, a little indigo dyeing, a little fabric printing. Maybe you’ve already got a collection of domain experts in your knitting group. Or have a look at Making magazine, a great resource for accessible introductory projects with gorgeous results. Someone in your group is going to find their next obsession.
Or you could go deep. If you have a group of friends that are all about lace, say, I can suggest Jen Arnall-Culliford’s book Something New to Learn About Lace, which came out just in time for dog-day knitting.
Take Me to the Water
Speaking of hot weather, taking the waters is what summer was made for. Beach days if you’ve got one close enough. Picnics at the lake, if you’re more inland. Or hot springs, if you’ve got them in the vicinity! Pack your seasonally appropriate knitting and put together a potluck picnic. Food 52 has some great ideas.
A Tastier Book Club
Here’s where today’s camp is so much better than regular camp: mealtime. If you don’t think book clubs sound fun, it may be that you haven’t tried a cookbook club. We know from the global history of book clubs that many begin in great ambition, and fizzle by month three. This can be as true of YA-focused book clubs as it is with Russian-novel book clubs.
What isn’t going to meet premature book club death is the book club built around dinner, especially when fire is involved. Pick some people you know to be 1. willing cooks and 2. adventuresome eaters and 3. prepared to bring more cookbooks into the house, because the good ones aren’t always available at the library. I recommend Francis Mallmann’s Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way. (Again, if you’re actually in Argentina or anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s midwinter right now, just move the party indoors.)
If summer is your chance to catch up to life, you could put together Accountability Camp for an important project. Does this sound grim? It really doesn’t have to be. Summer is an ideal time to tie the bow on things you’ve meant to do for too long now.
Is it too hot to clean out the attic? All the more reason to wake up early and git ’er done fast. Is the beach calling your name? Very well, then, you have a ready reward/bribe.
Your project doesn’t have to be the whole attic (or the whole novel, or the whole of your sports nutrition textbook—haha! just found my project), or 100 percent of anything else. That’s what Accountability Camp is for: periodic check-ins. Enthusiastic cheering from the gang when you meet mini-goals.
Suggestions: pick only projects you truly want to do, or to have done. Only pick sister campers you really want to give truthful updates to, and who are ready to be your biggest boosters. Have some rewards in mind for when you finish. And although you could certainly do Accountability Camp virtually, like the other self-care camp ideas, it could be more fun in real life—because that way you can celebrate together!
So there you are: the fundamentals of self-care, i.e., crafting, bathing, reading, eating, resting and getting important things done. All made easier by longer days, and pleasanter with company.
Many thanks to Beverly Army Williams and the women of the Infinity Pool for sharing their ideas with me.