Day 1

Overnight 2017 is Finally Here!

Somehow, it’s already August 7th, and we find ourselves tucked back in the Redwood Grove at Westminster Woods for our season ending overnight camp. We’ve moved all over the Bay, rocked out at an Alien Rock Concert, traveled through the many worlds of Monsters Under the Bed the Ride, laughed ourselves silly during the Mirth-Quake, and so much more. Our full adventures have been documented on our Instagram page, but we’ve just been too busy building to keep up with the blog. We’re planning to publish a 2017 summer photo journal, so come back soon to see all our hard work this year. 

Jenny's been waiting all summer to play Noodle Ninja with the kids. 

Jenny's been waiting all summer to play Noodle Ninja with the kids. 

So here we are at Overnight Camp! We’ve more than doubled in size since last year with a total of 29 campers and 8 Collaborators. We’re also running a Middles and Uppers camp simultaneously for the first time, so we’ve got makers from age 10 years all the way up to seniors in high school. Kids are working with their age group on their projects, but much of the day’s games, meals, and down time are spent as one big camp. With so many friends, siblings, former Junior Collaborators, and alumni in the mix, we’ve all rapidly become a little village and it feels like everyone has known each other much longer than one day. 

Day One was all about getting to know each other. We believe vulnerability is at the core of creativity, and with the spaciousness of a whole week together, we can afford to spend the day giggling, asking each other questions, and taking in this beautiful land. We’ll be more ready to take the risk of sharing a new, partly formed, crazy idea when the time comes. 

First up, we played Giants, Wizards and Elves, and we gotta say - we have a new favorite game. Think Rock, Paper, Scissors, played as a whole team and mixed a little bit with tag. After sharing our names, the tool we felt the most like that day, and our preferred gender pronouns, we split into our Uppers and Middles camps to dive a little deeper. In both groups, everyone shared a story about an epic failure as well as something that seemed doomed and magically worked out. Eggshells in pancakes. Smashed life-size models of BB8. Previous projects from camp that somehow came together. A play that only found its ending during the car ride to the tech rehearsal. What would you have shared?

Next up, we enjoyed an usually early dinner (5:00!). It’s a bit of an adjustment for us all, but the silver lining is that we get a nice, long evening session before the sun sets. Before heading off for an evening hike, we discussed our group agreements. We’ve got a few philosophies we like to share with the kids, but group agreements are always created collaboratively. In our Uppers camp, we handed them the reigns to facilitate their own group agreement process. In Middles, this week will largely focus on the challenge of bigger projects with more complex components. The Uppers are working on gaining independence from collaborator facilitation/input. 

Jackie, Reuben, Makai, Yildiz and Henry enjoy the crest view.

Jackie, Reuben, Makai, Yildiz and Henry enjoy the crest view.

Finally, we enjoyed a short hike along with the first meeting of our small groups. All the campers will meet nightly to check in and reflect on the day. For our first meeting, we played two truths and a lie, as well as coming up with some questions we wanted our group members to answer about themselves. We called it a night at the end of the hike - tomorrow's a big day!

night hike

Day 1: Beauty

Day 1: Beauty

After months of anticipation, we have finally arrived at our week of overnight camp, wrapped in the beauty of the Redwoods of the California Coast.  All of our host sites have added something special to the flavor and the project possibilities of our camps, and Westminster Woods does not disappoint!  There's nothing quite like the sense of calm and wonder motivated by a sky-reaching grove of nature's giants.  

Session E: Welcome to RAFT

After a colourful culmination of dropping, squeezing and launching paint balloons in Session D, the Project Ember team also had an action-packed weekend; saying a fond farewell to our friends at Black Pine Circle and relocating our program to our new day camp space at RAFT (Resource Area For Teachers) in San Jose.

For those unfamiliar with RAFT, they are a non-profit organisation who are on a mission to promote more hands-on, project-based learning in classrooms; providing ideas, materials and activity kits, as well as professional development programs, for teachers and schools. Our two weeks in San Jose are running simultaneously with RAFT's EduCamp program, so you might see some eager educators coming to view our project as it evolves.

Our team has also grown significantly this week, with three new Junior Collaborators joining the Project Ember family for our two weeks here at RAFT. At 15-16 years of age, Anna, Alex and Addison have experience beyond their years; competent makers with excellent problem-solving and communication skills. We are thrilled to be gaining their insights, enthusiasm and intuitive interpersonal connections.

We are excited to welcome Anna, Alex and Addison to Project Ember (and they seem pretty happy about it too!)

The first day of camp is always an exciting one; it's where we meet and make new friends and learn how to use new tools and equipment safely...

Day one also means project announcement. Here at Project Ember HQ, we have been eagerly awaiting this one - A DRIVE-THROUGH CAR WASH! We are particularly excited by the opportunity this project poses to fully immerse our campers creativity and imagination, and we have the added bonus of accessing some unusual materials and recycled products from RAFT's warehouse and resource centre. 

We initially split into two main groups, with campers following their own personal interests; either engineering the car and track or creating car cleaning contraptions. A productive design session ensued, with the car and track team (consisting of Cory, Devran, Evan, Lucas A and Yildiz) devising ambitious plans to recreate a gull-winged Tesla!

The Tesla Team come to an exciting agreement on the design of the car and track

The (rather large) car wash contraption team divided in order to conquer. Asha, Ella and Zach took on the challenge of creating a soaper-upper; with long, dangling, octopus-esq tentacles, it is excitingly and affectionately known as the 'Floptopus'! The next stage in the car wash conveyor belt is actually cleaning the car, for which Alyssa, Lavanya, Michael, Sophie and Varun are designing a series of spinning rollers to scrub and rinse (look out for a potential water jet system!) And finally, Logan and Lucas B are excited to be working on a drying system.

Session D: Color Explosion

Session D: Color Explosion

It's hard to believe it's already our last week at Black Pine Circle, but after a week off for the holiday, we arrived on Monday refreshed and energized to get back into the swing of things.