Buck’s Grok

Posted on December 2, 2009


… Wherein the protagonist whines briefly about hurdles, but goes on to discuss how to proceed in a useful way.

I hope all of you who celebrate US Thanksgiving had a great one!  For me, the beginning of December is the end of a very long and difficult month, full of illness and a long, complicated move into a new apartment.  The move is finally finished!  The illness is not.  It came back.  And I do not approve.

Although I did not expect to go as fast as necessary to get all my planned tasks done in the allotted three years, I did very much hope for a strong start.  I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far, but I expected to do much more of it.  And now, at the one month mark, is the time I planned to step back, examine my progress thus far, and decide if any tweaking is necessary.

The purpose of the reach-for-the-stars timeframe here is to motivate me.  The trick is to pick a timeframe short enough that it keeps me working hard, but close enough to realistic that I don’t burn out or start missing the point in order to catch up.  Since I don’t want to drop too many of the tasks I’ve picked out, I’m going to extend the timeframe to five years now.

Buck’s Rock Summer Camp

When I was young, my mother was constantly on the lookout for ways to enrich my life and my brother’s.  When we were old enough for sleep-away camp, she searched extensively to find the best one.  We weren’t quite old enough to go to the place she found for us, so we went to another summer camp for a few years.  But eventually we ended up there: Buck’s Rock Summer Camp.  And I’m still very glad of it.

Buck’s Rock is a remarkable place.  Founded by Ernst and Ilse Bulova in 1942, the camp was originally a refuge for British children during World War II.  Refugees from Austria themselves, Ernst and Ilse strove to make Buck’s Rock more than just a refuge.  They had both studied under Maria Montessori and they applied her educational principles at the camp.

Campers are free, during most hours of the day, to choose their own activities, the only restriction being that they have to be working in one of the “shops”.  The shops are numerous and include woodworking, glassblowing, sculpture, computers, farming, theater, cooking, etc….  Originally focused on farming and construction, the camp has added more and more of these shops over the years.  Today it is branded a “Performing and Creative Arts Camp”.  That is indeed its biggest strength, but I prefer to call it an “everything camp”.  You can swim, play softball, care for farm animals, program computers, etc….

I have just made preliminary arrangements with the camp’s directors to return to Buck’s Rock and use some of its unique facilities, and hopefully some of its excellent instructors, to complete a fair number of Grok Project tasks.  As a camper there, I spent most of my time on photography, theater, and computers.  I’m embarrassed to say that I never took the opportunity to do many of the things I’ll be returning for: glassblowing, weaving, metal casting, book binding, block printing, moveable type printing, and possibly sheep shearing or wool processing.  Here’s to second chances!

Because the facilities are meant for the campers, I may have to make special arrangements with willing shop counselors to work after hours.  I’m also hoping that I can give back to Buck’s Rock by bringing an activity / presentation to the campers about the Grok Project.

I’ll keep you informed as “Buck’s Grok” gets closer.  Thanks for reading!

Posted in: General Interest