I hear and use that expression regroup all the time. My visual for that word (do other people carry mental images for the conceptual meaning of words or is it just me?) is like a whole bunch of little balls that disperse and then come back together in an orderly fashion. I use it when my thoughts are scattered, when I've taken on new information that's blown apart my original plan or idea, when I need to go away and think something through and come up with a new and better response to something.
But of course, regrouping isn't just a thing that happens in my head. The term is, I understand, a military one and it does carry that tactical implication for me. Something has knocked those little balls in my head out of alignment to create the need to regroup and while the language of battle and attack isn't really appropriate to my life in the strictly military sense, some days it does feel like I am charging over the hill to an enemy onslaught.
So this last weekend I went off and regrouped. After a couple of weeks of solo parenting and lots of work and other stresses I stepped away to sew and nap and eat. I let all those those defences fall away and disperse so they could come back together in a more useful way. Because that's the thing that's hard when you are right in the firing line isn't it, the impossibility of letting things really fall apart to you can put them back together properly.
I mean, on one level it's all about the making for me. I love getting a whole bunch of sewing done, and seeing what other people make, the talk of patterns and techniques and the fabric fondling. And it's a lot about the food - and not because it's fancy or elaborate or beautifully prepared. It's about being fed by other people, about other people taking responsibility for it, and the freshness of new tastes.
So as I was coming home I was thinking a lot that camp is about going to a place where I feel like I really can let all the balls drop. The best camps for me are those ones where I feel completely and unconditionally embraced. Not so much so I can become dysfunctional (no rocking in the corner) but so that I can be myself without the defences that are a routine part of every other part of life. And it's not even that I need praise, though it's always nice to be appreciated, what I really need is to not have to think about what I need to be for someone else. To let it all go so I can hear and think about what I really want in all this. I don't want to be judged and I don't want to have to win someone's approval (or get anyone's dinner or deal with the not eating of said dinner or the comment on why I might have made said dinner or the inner dialogue about dinner in general). Maybe that's a comment on me, and what my life is like these days, but I suspect it's true at least in part for every one who comes to camp.
I think I've always thought of camp as a fairly robust environment, but I was thinking this weekend how different each camp is and thus how easily the variables can influence it. I'm beginning to see the group a bit like those balls, they fall away between camps and re form anew for each gathering. There's a pretty big group of people who are regular campers, so each camp takes only some from the pool, and the dynamics of individuals and their relationships really change things and what their coming together means. There's a really different energy to some camps and as the years roll on I'm tuning in to that at a much finer level. I'm also increasingly aware that there's no telling ahead of time what will make any one camp truly special. Why sometimes I do more or think less or sleep more or worry less. Why sometimes organising these adventures feels like the greatest gift, and other times almost (but not quite) like a burden. It should have ceased to amaze me how much the inside of one's head can shape one's experience of the world outside it. And yet it hasn't.
So here's the obligatory stuff I made shot - cobbled from live instagramming of finished objects (a brilliant way to avoid the getting home and collapsing and then finding all the stuff already run off to new homes before photographic evidence can be collected).
My overlocker ceased functioning on the Friday and aside from the inconvenience of not having it, the whole experience kind of messed with my plans and head in an unhelpful and time consuming way (ie I had to walk away for a bit and go watch a movie on the iPad to decompress after multiple rethreadings, needle changes and a lot of swearing). Luckily I had some generous support from the rest of the overlocking crew, and as usual a few other bail outs with tools and notions.
Thanks as usual goes to my fellow campers for sharing the dream, the fun, the laughter and the swear words, for driving and cooking and tolerating the snoring (and to the blogless too - you know who you are and so do I).