Thursday, 9 February 2017

Wave Goodbye & Say Hello

As we prepare to say hello to a new wave of volunteers, i wanted to publicly express a last wave of gratitude for the team of 2016.  They gave so much & it's worth celebrating...

Slow down & Hurry Up!

Some years ago a mentor said some words to me that spoke to my need for anchoring and connecting amidst a collective, hyper modern, hyper-speed; capital driven collision course. He said:

‘The most radical thing we can do is slow down and build relationships with each other’

These words, simple on the surface; sink deep like a tenacious taproot into the subterranean subsoil of the soul.

In many respects, the operation at Camas Tuath has been fast paced, so the emphasis on slowing down during the high season has at times seemed absurd! Sixteen hour days for twenty eight weeks! Slow down? You’ve got to be kidding me…


As a resident at Camas Tuath, it was an honour to spend seven months of 2016 collaboratively working such a group of volunteers as have lived at the centre. On seeing them, a mentor of mine, an indigenous man of the semi nomadic Nevi Wesh peoples; remarked on a summer visit to Camas:

‘Look at these people! they’re faces are all glowing with health and wellbeing’.

This is by cultural and natural design; the ergonomic confines of the bay lends itself to a DIY culture where we have been FREE to exercise our gifts and exorcise our schist! The volunteers have not just smashed it; they have rebuilt awesomeness from the foundations up.

At times, it has been joyous to see them shining- and awash with creativity and energy; meeting the tasks of hand from dawn to dusk with vitality and humour. Gifts emerging from their insides; and when they connected on a human to human level, it had a discernible effect on the young people in their care. Big style.

It's been at its height when the young peoples curiosity has led the content of the curriculum.

‘At one end of the continuum is this little arrowhead called curiosity, right? & if you follow the shaft of the arrow back towards the individual who fired it, & more & more of those arrows go out, & that string gets thicker & thicker, your at Passion. So enough curiosity fed and supported will turn into passion for that individual…These are words to live by.’
[Jon Young]

Carrying Fire.

Now returned to home environment, or pursuing further adventures; I originally wrote these words as an email to volunteers, to celebrate the culture we created together.  It holds true, we experienced a place where a positive group culture that emphasizes intimacy with nature, intimacy with each other, intimacy with one self and intimacy with the creative force that moves through all things.

I also recognized that there can sometimes be a heap of cognitive dissonance that emerges; when you try to integrate all those felt values in your body and mind; with the type of culture society at large emphasizes. I want to re-emphasize a need to carve out the time to slow down and build relationships! Being awesome and cool comes with responsibilities. 

Check THIS out: In Last Child in the Woods’, Richard Louv notes:

“During my research for this book, i was encouraged to find that many people now of college (sic) age- those who belong to the first generation to grow up in a largely denatured environment- have tasted just enough nature to intuitively understand just what they have missed. This yearning is a source of power. These young people resist the rapid slide from the real to the virtual, from the mountains to the Matrix. They do not intend to be the last children in the woods.”

The above quote was written in 2008, placing the ‘college age’ kids now in their late twenties. Never has there been a more necessary time to introduce mentoring to our lives.

To the small tribe of 20-somethings who assembled for the task and I will name you here: Joshua, Mairead, Cormac, Aaron, Jonathon, Rachel and subsequently, Hattie, Davie, Jo & Kat.  Do you intend to be the last children in the woods?  If not you, liie all the generations that pass through Camas, your gonna have to wing it wowed and clear…

Ring the Anchor!

It is my contention that you dear reader, of this generation of superhero(ine)s deserve support, from a diverse source of anchoring relationships from various life-stages, if you are to succeed in mentoring the generation below you.

The realization that people needs resourcing comes with a personal charge: if we are to be strategic and wise enough to realize just how much a tide needs turning; then we 'old-folks' in our 30’s, 40’s & 50’s, need to seek out anchoring relationships & model connective practices ourselves.

Remember, if we want to be gnarled, wise old elders before we become ancestors, then it’s important that we periodically seek out support from our anchors to help answer that all important  fourth tier question: ‘what is this teaching me about myself?’

It’s not that age presupposes exponential wisdom- like a weird linear hierarchy. Rather that, generally, people in different life stages have something vital and valuable to offer each other. Anchors listen deeply; something emerges.

A transitioning reflection.

Here at Camas, behind the scenes of twenty eight consecutive residential weeks, we were involved in various experiential learning and mentoring processes ourselves, including:

* Developing small group facilitation skills including holding space for ‘story of day’ and reflections.
* Skills in peacemaking and resolving conflicts.
* Engaging in and facilitating the core routines of nature connection.
* Developing naturalist awareness skills and technical competence in adventurous activities.
* Building relationships with each other.
* Managing personal areas of responsibility and undertaking household chores such as cooking and cleaning for large groups.
* Moving towards personal goals, actualizing some; and celebrating achievements.
* Tools, including how to process and tend grief and process grievances.
[By the way, though employment is not the endgame- for me at least- these experiences, carefully articulated; are valuable indicators of competencies at interview.]

Making an inventory of significant turning points in each of these areas over your time at Camas would give a firm foundation for visioning what you’d like to carry forward or leave behind.

Go well gang of 2016…. & all the best…   Hello gang of 2017....


May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.
May you be hospitable to criticism.
May you never put yourself at the centre of things.
May you act not from arrogance but out of service.
May you work on yourself,
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.
May those who work for you know
You see and respect them.
May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.
When someone fails or dissapoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.
May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw it’s enrichment from the old,
And you never become a functionary.
May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.
May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.
May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.
May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.

John o’ Donohue

1 Louv, R Last Child in the Woods.
2 Louv, R Last child in the woods