Monday, July 16, 2012

Moving Toward the Big Announcement

This is Ceci-- she started out as a writing student of mine when she was itty-bitty. Now she is a rocking member of Schmillion and she also has helped me out lots with my camps. Yay Ceci!
I think it was way back in May when I said a big announcement was imminent regarding my Next Exciting Project. Well, okay, as with other things in Austin, imminence is a little less immediate than elsewhere. But I really am planning to unveil, soonish, this idea I have that has been picking up steam in my mind and-- I see from news and radio stories-- in the collective consciousness. 

Seriously priceless.
A couple of hints at what I'm alluding to can be found in last week's Fashion Camp, which was my last week ever of summer camps for kids. I've done camps of various focus-- writing, fashion, craft -- for more years than I can remember. Some years were packed, some years lagged, always fun was had and, let's be real, some frustration, too. For example last week, I had an unfortunate tangle with a parent who kind of crapped all over me. But she was absolutely an exception, swiftly dispensed with. In the big picture-- of last week, of all my camps-- we have had a stunning amount of fun in camps and parents have been overwhelmingly supportive of my not-exactly-conventional approaches.

I really believe when you give kids free rein and enough duct tape, anything is possible. (Maybe that should go on my gravestone.) 
Not to sound too corny about it, but I also learned a lot of unexpected lessons-- about business, human nature, and expectations. For example, when I first started out with Writing Camp, I had the hilarious false notion that the kids would LOVE to write for three solid hours. It was a theory I think I developed by imagining what I would most love to have-- uninterrupted hours to pen my thoughts. But no, the kids wanted to socialize and run around. And so I shaped the program to suit their desires, and this is how, very organically, we came to do skit-writing and magazine-making in addition to individual writing. 

Along the way, especially with Fashion Camp, I had the help of invaluable assistants. In fact, Fashion Camp got its start in large part because there were a couple of teenagers to whom I wished to demonstrate the power of the creative class (sorry if you hate that term, it is kind of annoying). I wanted them to see there were options beyond the usual crappy teen jobs. I paid them very well for their work, and I also gave them a lot of responsibility. Over the years my assistants changed but my goal to be a mentor did not. I'm happy to say that I've provided employment and a healthy wage (if only for a week or two at a time) to a number of young Austinites, all of whom rose to the occasion and worked hard and made camp successful.

This is my friend Sarah who a) writes an amazing blog and b) is such a good friend I can't even tell you. Every year for our big fashion show she brings snacks including her mother's award-winning pimento cheese.

My departure from camp comes for a couple of reasons. The main one is that I am fortunate enough now to have a wedding business that is bursting at the seams, with more requests than I can handle (toward that end I now have a team working with me). Another reason is that I just feel done with camp, that my time working with little kids in this manner has run its course (despite Warren's insistence that I really ought to have my own kindergarten). I really love kids, and I really love working with young people, but it's time for a new incarnation.

And that brings us back to my "imminent" big announcement. Though I'm walking away from camp, I'm not walking away from working with young Austinites. I'm super excited as I put together the details of my next plan, which, no really, I swear, I am going to share soon. In the meanwhile, feel free to take a guess.

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