Monday, October 29, 2007

I just spent a wonderful week at camp...

ObstaclesCamp HardKnock is the outgrowth of the the old HardKnock Elementary. Run by Jill Caldera and Gattz Gilman in the Tu Amor sim on a seasonal basis, Camp HardKnock serves as a sleepover camp featuring numerous guided activities and plenty of "free play" time.

I arrived a day or two late, due to real-life commitments, as well as a little trepidation about being away from my SL family for so long. A Second Life week can feel like forever!

Once I settled into camp life, however, I saw that the experience was something quite wonderful. The sort of thing I wish there was far more of in Second Life. A place full of joy and delight, peopled by some very loving and caring individuals, and a place to truly, safely explore one's own "inner kid."

There were activities galore, from a "cabin pranking day" that left the boys cabin full of pink, and other filled with giant cup cakes, to a talent show full of play acting, performing, and other moments quite unlike the dance clubs of "mainstream" SL spaces. We had ghost stores, camp outs, dances, scavenger hunts, and even just pancake breakfasts in the mess hall.

Even when there wasn't a scheduled activity, we still found ways to occupy our time. In the open area between cabins, there was always plywood cubes being turned into some new shape as kids let the imaginations go. Counselor Gilman's morning building events -- more of a "build on a theme" gathering with some instruction as need be -- made for everything from sentimental mementos of camp friendships to imaginary creatures.

Then, one night of camp, you got to see the real heart of the place: one camper's SL father -- and another's SL grandfather -- was killed in a real-life car accident. The camp pulled together for them, holding a solemn memorial for those who lost family, and reflected on how much their own SL families mean to them.

This is the thing about these Second Life kids, and about this camp. While there sure are some to whom the name might fit, we're not some perverse subculture that some would lead you to believe. The camp, while red taped to allow a respite from the outside world's interference, was something I wish all could see, just to have a better idea what all these kids are doing on Second Life.

We're creating and using our imaginations. We're sharing with each other, and enjoying each other's company. We're caring about each other, and lending a hand when needed. We're learning new skills, new ideas, and even new interests. Above all this, we're having fun.

For those who might be interested, there is a movie on YouTube that Counselor Caldera put together at - an also photos at, Casey Sawson's website at, and in Maxi Rehula's MySpace at, amongst others.

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