That summer camp feeling

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2017, 12:16 AM | comments: 0

I only went to summer camp once, and it was a camp that the City of Cleveland recreation division ran. It was the summer before grade nine, starting high school, and it was a weird thing where I was slowly feeling confident about my place in the world (until I moved to the suburbs and had to start over, later that year). I was at the upper end of the age for the camp, and most of us in my cabin were there because we had younger siblings there (though I don't recall actually ever encountering Jason during the stay). It was a fairly positive experience, and I suspect a great thing for the other inner-city kids.

The best parts were when we collaborated on stuff. I would experience this later in high school, when I would produce a TV recording for basketball, or record a show from the theater kids. In college, it's something we did with every TV show we produced, or my minor involvement in theater. I would repeat that experience after college doing government TV, and much later in collaborative situations as a software developer. There's something enormously fulfilling about putting together a "show" with other people, even when, like me, you straddle that line between introvert and extravert.

I recognize this phenomenon by proxy any time I see certain movie special features. The Oceans trilogy (with Clooney and Pitt) are big examples of this. The Pitch Perfect series also qualify (can't wait for the third one!). Any time you have a big ensemble cast, it seems like the general sentiment is, "Wow, we had such a good time making this!" It's probably true for any movie, but you don't generally get the testimonial of a random grip in the special features for a movie.

In my day job, leading software development, collaboration happens almost every day. Sometimes you even get away from it, and gather with the people, to have some important moments with your co-workers that lead to important new things (I had one of these the first night we were at SXSW, last week). There's something intoxicating about this process, where you get together with people and create something awesome. Looking back at my life, I'm kind of surprised at how infrequently this occurred, and how infrequently I made changes in recognition of this lack of awesomeness.

But it's funny how often I come back to the film variety of this. My darling wife, working in theater as a stage manager, got paid to make something awesome and connective happen with people every night. Can you imagine that? I recently met a new friend, an ex of my ex (this is why you should stay friends), who has been touring as part of the cast of Wicked for years. Watching him on the Facebook, it's staggering that this is what he gets to do for a living, and he's not even a little unappreciative about it. That's amazing.

For years now, I've put some pressure on myself to write something worth shooting, and haven't produced more than a page or two at any given time. But I want to do it, not really for the resulting art that I hope for, but more because I want to have that collaborative thing happen to make the art. Hopefully, one day, I'll have that idea, and I can gather my friends to make it happen.


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