So I did a thing last week–I went to camp! And not just any camp, but this camp! Isn’t it gorgeous??

I have never been to camp in my life. I had myriad health problems as a kid, and couldn’t go to any sort of outdoorsy-type thing. I first saw this dance camp advertised on the AACTMAD page (yes, it’s said “Act Mad”, which I think is wonderful). It was way out of my price range, but they were offering scholarships. Thanks to some generous folks, I received a scholarship that paid for most of the tuition. Then it was on like Donkey Kong!

Here is the Pretty that I was greeted with when I arrived on Sunday:

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That is Lake Huron, as seen from the porch of the lodge.

The first evening was basically spent settling in, eating dinner, unpacking. I was afraid that they wouldn’t let me come to the camp if I told them I had such bad asthma, so I didn’t say anything. That meant I was in a regular cabin, where the humidity was about 1000%. (This is not the camp’s fault; Michigan gonna Michigan). I made it through that first night, but needed the non-rescue, just regular inhaler when I woke up.

Every day, you had a choice of four different classes (you can see what they are at the link posted above). For my first class, I chose Mummers Play and it was about the best decision I could have made. The leader was a professor in Toronto, and had done these plays before. I had never heard of these plays before but THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME AND I WANT TO DO THEM IN ANN ARBOR!

The basic idea behind the Mummers Play is for amateur actors to create a play, disguise them selves, and then bust up in yo crib to put on they play. It would be nice if you were to make it rain when the players were done, but not necessary. (Interestingly, this tradition got started back in the day when peasants were eating rocks and living in shacks and the rich people were eating free range, organic golden goose and living in velvet lined houses that crapped gold. The rich people realized that maybe they should keep the peasants busy [and throw a bit of the poopy gold to them]lest they realize how unjust things really were, and that there were a lot more peasants than there were rich folks. Does this sound familiar? Because it should.)

I could not have asked for a better troupe. We based the play around brains, as one of our friends in the troupe has brain cancer. We put it together during that week, and performed Friday night.

For the second class, I went to a Mulligan jig class because a) I had never heard of it before and b) I have never done a jig before (at least not intentionally). This is similar to what we did. I’m pleased to say that I looked EXACTLY like this dancer when the week was done.

HAHAHAHAHA! I’m just kidding. But our teacher was great, and I did pick up some of the steps. We did this jig in the yurt, which was possibly the muggiest place I have ever been in my life, ever. They could have dumped chowder on our heads and we wouldn’t have noticed.


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That is the yurt. It was really neat, just needed central air conditioning. As does everything, ever.

Our dance teacher was great. She teaches elementary dance in Canada and–oh, wait. What’s that? Dance? In elementary school? At a public school? Yes, my fellow denizens of Snyder and his ilk, our friends in Canada actually teach this sort of material to young kids. At a PUBLIC SCHOOL. I am so happy for them but so sad for us. I hate you, Snyder.

Anyway, then we had this thing called Gathering, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day. Campers would get up and sing, or lead a poem, or do a skit, or generally just be awesome. Then we had lunch and the food was top notch. Seriously. I actually ate vegetables, which I normally do not do because I do not like vegetables. But the chef did something magical that made them not taste like dirt, dirty ass, or snot. It was amazeballs.

After lunch, there were more classes to take. I opted for “outdoor adventures” because I have really done not many of those. The first day found me horseback riding. Below is not me on the horse, but that is the horse that I rode. The horse was named Pete, and the little doggie was Bandit, who lived with the family who owned the horseys.

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Another outdoor activity found me doing technical tree climbing. This is likely the only kind of “tree climbing” I could ever do, given my girth. But there is my fat ass, up in a tree!

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So yeah, tilt your head sideways first.

I also did different kinds of English dancing, and was going to go kayaking but we got rained out.

For the fourth class, I had to pick something I knew I’d be good at and so I picked Improv. (It’s like how I encourage my special ed kids to do art because they tend to be good at art, and you need something to be good at when you suck at everything else, and I suck at most everything involving physical activity). I had an absolute blast, even in the sweaty yurt. The class was full of fun people who would do and try most anything, our teacher was a blast, and we just had so much fun being silly.

After, you could take camper-led classes and campers could lead classes on pretty much anything they wanted. This is a picture of the schedule that I took on Monday; lots more were added as the week went on.


See how on Monday it says “chestnuts”? I presumed that it meant actual nuts. My friend, Linda Diane, makes chestnut flour and I thought “how neat! I can take some back for her.” Oops. Turns out that “chestnuts” are the super old English dances. They were very cool, and I’m glad I did them. I also went to the storytelling talk and the singing on Friday. I think I went swimming in Lake Huron on the other two days, or else I just sat on the porch and looked at the lake.

Our “beach party” was scheduled for Wednesday, but we got rained out. It was okay though, because we sat on the gorgeous porch and had a chocolate party and chatted and chatted and sang and hung out.

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The first picture was as the rained rolled in; it had cleared up by dinner time.

We had dinner at 5:45, and then every night had a concert by campers followed by a big ol’ English Country Dance. Even when there wasn’t a scheduled concert, there was always music somewhere on the camp. I miss that. I miss walking outside and hearing some lovely strains of beautiful music. The dances were a hoot. No one got mad (I do get snapped at and shushed and generally some negativity at my home group) and no one cared if you screwed up and everyone was happy. Here is the beautiful place where we danced:

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On Thursday night, some of us pulled mattresses out to the porch and slept outside. I have never slept outside before, and it was lovely. I woke up long enough to throw on my glasses and watch the sunrise, and then I went back to sleep.

I think this is the sunrise that I took that day, but I was pretty tired and it could have been another day but still–SUNRISE!


We also had gorgeous moonrises!

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Probably the best thing I did for myself was to tell some stories during the gatherings. Despite a lifelong desire to be the center of attention and a love of public speaking, I am actually quite shy in person and it is sometimes hard for me to meet people. So on Tuesday, I got up and told my Plant People story (it’s not online as far as I know, so you just have to imagine!). It was a huge hit, and gave me something to talk about with people. On Saturday, I told the Bar Exam Results, which is my “go-to” story and one of my favorites.

Now that camp is over, we are madly friending each other on Facebook, and it is glorious! It makes me very excited for camp next year. Until then, I leave you with one last gorgeous photo:





  1. Linda Diane Feldt says:

    Camp! I’m glad you had such a great experience. Glad you thought of me with the chestnuts – but it is actually acorns that I eat. The chestnuts in Michigan aren’t usually edible. And the acorns are, once the tannins have been removed by rinsing a lot.
    Music and nature and dance – great combination.

    1. Patti Smith says:

      I would make that sort of mistake 🙂 Good thing I didn’t bring you home a bunch of poison chestnuts 🙂

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