September 6, 2013
Nevada City, CA
Today we visited camp Augusta. It is a camp in Northern California but it feels like it is a 60’s commune. When we first arrived staff was milling around in home made (far from y branded) t- shirts, like a bunch of worker ants. We milled around as well taking pictures of some of the tree house/ imaginative playground of stuff that littered and piled itself around some of the camp buildings. Randy the camp director met up with us just as the 5:00 dinner bell rang. Dinner was served outside at a series of crooked picnic tables. Meat ( free range, grass fed beef of course) or veggie chili, gluten free cornbread, swiss chard, leafy green salad, fresh sour cream, cheese, onions, and a delicious pineapple avocado salad. After dinner every one rinsed off their own plate. During the meal we sat with Randy and the staff that is here for the last family weekend of the season. They were more than friendly and talkative. They were all trying to give us a correct display of the shenanigans and the culture that is unique to camp Augusta. Randy talked to us a little bit about how he got started at camp. and how camp runs on a flat hierarchy, meaning that everyone is involved in making all of the decisions at camp and that no one is above anyone else. There is no way to get fired at Camp Augusta unless you are voted off the Island by the community, you would be apart of that discussion of course. There is so much that is unique about Camp Augusta that it is not only hard for me to find a way to write it all down but as we walked around with Randy on a tour after dinner he had trouble knowing where to start to squeeze in all of the fascinating schedule, management, philosophy and traditions that are unique here. You can read all about Randy’s camp philosophy at http://www.visionrealization.com and all about a flat hierachary, Randy’s “management” style at http://www.functionalconsensus.org both are in many ways crazy and brilliant. We can not imagine a more creative or well functioning camp.
There are three more simple camp ideas that stick out to Jack and I after having a chance to process it all, special wake ups, auction prizes and the cool stuff that is attached to all of the cabins. We had the luck of experiencing our very own special wake up, 2 staff members busted into our platform tent at 7:20 in the morning talking jibberish and looking for our shoes, the tore the covers off our feet and tried to take them as well, then 2 other staff with fun noodle clubs and nets came in trying to catch the “Gnomes” that were now hiding under our bunks. It was hysterical! Some crazy, never repeated version of a special wake up happens every morning for every camper during the summer. They range from an irate and sassy tooth fairy looking under pillows for teeth to Darth Claus delivering presents to the whole village. Waking up like that reminds you that you are at a magical place where anything can happen. Auction prizes are thought up by the non-cabin staff off that week, they are crazy out of this world prizes that cabins can bid on and then receive some time during their week at camp. To read more about Auction prizes here is an article that Randy wrote about them. http://www.northstarpubs.com/articles/cb/sold . Lastly maybe the more stark visual difference between this camp and others we have visited is the variety of entrances and exits, the add ons and the forts that are dreamed up and executed by kids in each cabin and for each village. I mean fireman poles, all kinds of decks and porches, hammocks, slides and flower boxes. All of that cool stuff that you wanted to add to your room but didn't know how to or have the permission to do, kids can add that stuff to their cabin with the support of the maintenance team and their counselors, who always respond YES AND... . All of the decisions to add things must be reviewed by the community at large. Talk about group decision making and a sense of ownership. As a result the place has harnessed the idea of the lost boys tree house, and it is so cool.