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Well, autumn leaves are pretty much done up here in the hills above our summer camp, and snow is falling on the summits.  Summer camp is fading into the distance.  About 30 campers took part — some for a week, others for the whole summer.  It was an imperfect start to what we hope will continue to be imperfect — something for teen campers to make their own.  We climbed a few mountains and waded across a few streams.  We made music.  We had discussions about power and love and respect.  We learned about electric current and the human reproductive system.  We played games and cooked food over open fires.  We made art and rode mountain bikes over rough, rooty trails.  We read some poetry and wrote a few songs.  And, we even hung out at the skate park, impressing each other with our tricks and egging each other on.  Mostly, we looked for ways to connect with each other and squeeze some fun and meaning out of our time together.  What follows is just a little bit of what we did this summer.  We are making our plans for next year so be on the lookout for more from us soon.

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Summer 2018, Session 1, week 3: sitting in a circle, around the fire pit - all boys this week (except for the counselors); searching for interesting things to learn about each other and ourselves - hearing about favorite colors and pets turns to sports and hobbies and, slowly, to a few thoughts, ideas and passions. Some of us think we know people in the circle already, but it is soon clear that what we thought we knew isn't whole - there is a lot more beneath the faces that have come to our circle. Fears, anxieties, anticipation that first morning slowly simmering in the sun and playful ultimate frisbee games, drum circles and adventures down steep slopes that give way to dust sliding under loose footing. Dropping stuff off of tall walls we learn about falling objects, and then we are dizzy from rolling out of our own falls. River detritus becomes our medium of expression - making our human mark and letting nature steer our tribe for a moment. On bikes, performing hip-hop songs we wrote, tie-dying t-shirts and at the tops of rocks, perched over deep pools, we were boys - egging each other on, but seeing the flash of fear, we softened, looking for safety, and team and support. And, we all rode together, giving the last of us a chance to rest and to stay with the group. We talked about our dreams and we cooked our pancakes and eggs over open fires. We were suddenly responsible to do things ourselves that someone else had always done. We made our beds in the woods and slept after an exhausting day, pushing limits. We listened to a 14 year-old boy sing an epic tale to his peers around a smoking fire. Games of ideas and words forbidden in polite company played by flashlight in crowded tents turned to discussions of respect and inclusion and consent. Steam-punk operas played as we drove along, learning about the rich cultural stew that we were making together. Through all of it, we each looked for our way to be more a part, but still ourselves - taking those baby steps on tender feet, over sharp rocks toward our place in the ether of our short-lived tribe, sometimes hearing harmonious voices, just for a moment, before dissolving into a cacophony of adolescence.

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STEAM VT encourages and supports youth empowerment through hands-on, experiential explorations of science, arts, music, society, team building, personal challenges and finding one’s place in the natural world. We strive to ignite passions in young people with a focus on creativity, expression and valuing what each individual brings to the group. We celebrate and nurture the diversity of ability, interest, background, culture, and experience of all who are part of the program.

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