Telling Tales at Waycross

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day at Waycross [the summer camp and conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis] leading two storytelling workshops. Beautiful place, beautiful young people, and a beautiful spirit – the campers seemed calm and mellow. Something in the water, maybe?

With each workshop I talked a bit about reading vs. telling. I told them a very bare-bones Goldilocks and the Three Bears and then we had fun elaborating on it using details, voice, and body. The first workshop was mostly early teen girls, very happy to be silly for each other about three bears, and some wonderful counselors who helped them feel it was ok. The second workshop was two tiny girls and one very grown-up boy and the counselor and I had to provide most of the silliness. Fortunately, we had more than enough.

I told both workshops a folk tale about a man who prepared a feast for the grizzly bears – I learned this from Ginny Richey of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild. It’s quiet and powerful.

I told the first group the first Genesis creation story and we had a good talk about Bible stories – about what and how they teach us. They were an inquisitive, articulate bunch. The second group – and the counselor! – got started talking about the flooding in central Indiana in June. Each one had a story to tell, all the stories involved risk, and most involved loss as well. This wasn’t what I expected to be talking over, but I decided my role was to listen and not try to paste happy faces on people.

I freely admit that on my way out to camp yesterday morning I was asking myself on what planet I was living when I volunteered to do these workshops. Kids are not necessarily an easy audience, and the schedule had given me huge chunks of time. But it was ok. More than ok. I’d be happy to do it again.

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