Badges for Bravery: Stories from the Writers Adventure Camp in Whistler
The Whistler Writers Adventure Camp happens June 6 – 10, 2018 in Whistler at The Point Artist-Run Centre, on the shores of Alta Lake. Guest Author Erin MacNair will be attending for the fourth year. Why the return? Let the writer write…
“Circus Virgin!” my character yelled, tormented by her lover’s lackluster skills. That was the idea I was trying to convey with the poem I’d crafted from random phrases gleaned from a ripped-out encyclopedia page included in my swag bag. It was poetry contest night at Writers Adventure Camp (WAC) and our task was to assemble these words into something meaningful. I’m not a poet, but for that one night I was — The Point’s roaring fire at my back, a U-shaped circle of new friends in front. We traded laughs, sipped some wine, and shared our masterpieces. Some people even earned badges: As at any good camp, you get the chance to prove your mettle.
I didn’t win any honours that night, but my reward was some hearty laughs. And there were many more of WAC’s quirky badges to come.
Badge #1: First to Spot a Bear
It was thrilling to see the wildlife up close. I’m a lover of nature, and there’s plenty at WAC. I became besotted with an injured baby crow named Mac, a guest star at the camp after his recent fall from a tree. (Baby crows have blue eyes! Who knew? What fantastic and magical creatures). Our fiction workshop leader, Heather O’Neill from Montreal, fell for the West Coast slugs, taking time to photograph them in all their gooey glory. We all have our stories. The birds, the bees, the fishes, the bashful furry creatures large and small all lent their presence to the idyllic beauty of our lakeside and mountain views.
Badge #2: First Audio-Visual Performance at the Cabaret
With the help of the WAC team, I was able to sing my favorite Sesame Street letter songs to a backdrop of animated ‘70’s videos. While this is mid-level bucket list fodder, it still fulfilled a part of me I rarely glimpse. Writers tend to stay in their shells. But with a little encouragement (and perhaps an elf hat) they can come out and play at the annual Cabaret.
Badge #3: Bravery While Walking to Hotel at Midnight along the Trails
This one could easily have been dubbed “Late-Night Adventure.” As we headed out under the stars after the Saturday night Cabaret, my camp buddies and I whistled and talked loudly, making our presence known to the nightlife. It was thrilling to give ourselves over to the evening, just like we’d given ourselves over to our writing adventures during day.
The point of coming to “The Point”? Be an active participant. We write, we connect; inspiration and our workshop leaders kick our butts. I sweated with the effort–the flow of ideas creating inner combustion, my mind’s workout transferring heat to my body. Next time I will pack stronger deodorant.
Badge #4 (fingers crossed): The Lifer
The reason I’ll return again and again, be that camp “lifer” who proudly displays her badges to the point of risking humiliation (ignore that one, she’s been here forever) is that besides all the fun and inspiration, my writing has moved to the next level. When giving yourself over to an inviting space in a special place with a room full of your tribe, a portal opens up somewhere inside — and Whammo! – the ideas come hard and fast.
Besides, I have so many badges left to earn: First to Jump in the Lake, First One in the Canoe, First One at Daybreak Yoga on the Dock. Although who’s kidding who? I’ll never get that one. I’ll enjoy my coffee slowly while contemplating the sun glimmering on Alta Lake, and look forward to immersing myself in the day ahead.
About the Author
Erin MacNair is a North Vancouver writer, mother, and metal-smith. Visit her website “Views from the Obtuse Angle” for publications and an intermittent blog. She can also be found in the twitterspere over @theerinangle.
Take the leap to the Writers Adventure Camp this June and like Erin, you could leave with new friends, new perspectives and new skills. The 2018 Writers Adventure Camp workshops touch on everything from literary comics to screenwriting and personal nonfiction – register by May 9 to earn your badges.And for true bookworms and pen-wielders, we recommend popping by for the Whistler Writers Festival in October.