Self Documentary-Make a mini documentary about something in your life.
The Story Behind the Story-
When I first got my job as a summer camp counselor, I was worried about a few things. First of all, I don’t like kids. Even as a kid I didn’t really like kids. I could be found on the bench at the playground talking to the parents of all the other kids who were playing tag or hide and seek. I just don’t quite understand kids, so they make me nervous. I try to recognize the agency and individuality they possess but in all honesty they seem like very tiny, intoxicated monsters. In their eyes, you can either be a fun punching bag or the evil teacher out to ruin foil their summer adventures, there is no in between.
My secondary worry in taking on this summer camp was that I would be working with extremely privileged children. Not that I don’t want to work with privileged kids, but I feel a little guilty that I am not devoting my time to some kind of “cause.” I figure that if I’m going to work with children, maybe it should be with children who need summer camp. But who is it that needs summer camp? There are plenty of kids out in the world who don’t receive enough love and attention and positivity in their lives, if I’m going to be spending all my time with children, I may as well work as a force to improve the lives of a few of them.
But I’ve found that despite this affluent location and the number of kids that are dropped off each morning in a Range Rover by their French au pair, many of the children I work with still suffer some serious deficit in their lives. For a lot of kids, this is the only place they don’t get bullied. Others don’t receive any attention from their parents or are watching their family become fractured by divorce. I have spoken to one mother who said that summer camp is the only place her daughter has found a positive male role model, a young boy walked me through the horror of watching his grandmother succumb to ALS. Several children are experiencing the beginning of a brand new life having been taken in by foster parents with vacation homes in Tahoe, a stark contrast to the lives of many children in the foster care system.
All of the children at camp, even the ones that might be a little spoiled, are reaping something great from this. I can’t help but feel amazed that I am watching these kids find their way, even if they’re only in my care for a week. Children are malleable, they’re changing from day to day, so even in the small time I have with them I see them grow. So many children go from being shy and invisible the first day, to outgoing and borderline obnoxious by the end of the week. No child is ever what I expect them to be on first sight, I always try to guess which kids will be the most mischievous and I’m nearly always wrong.
Summer camp matters for a lot of reasons. It’s more than just fun, it’s where kids get to be a little less self conscious, maybe try something they’ve never done before. But it’s just as important for me as it is for the children. Since becoming a counselor, I’ve started seeing children differently. They don’t roam in packs like wild animals without conscious thought. They are autonomous individuals with agency and even though they often lack to resources to carry out the plans they make, they’re undoubtedly moving through the world with a plan. Even though they can be cruel, exhausting and unmanageable, they have also given me some of the most profound lessons I have learned in my entire life. When we camped out on the beach under the stars, I got to hear their excited whispers and see the brilliant night stars reflecting off their glossy, wide eyes. I’ve been able to sit in the last rays of the setting sun and watch the kids dance and sing and play, a scene that was so perfect I was unwilling to let it go, so I recorded it here:
Summer camp has mattered so much to me, I can only hope that these kids will go on feeling as connected to this place and time as I have been.
All the footage from this mini documentary was shot on the iPhone 7 and then uploaded onto a macbook for editing using iMovie.
Once uploaded to iMovie, the frames were edited to exclude any unwanted footage and music was added.
Using the ds106 Handbook, I was able to find a site that had free music that could legally be downloaded without copyright infringement.
The music used was “Old Ways” by John Armistead from the website Free Music Archive .
The movie was then exported to a file acceptable for upload, although the file was too large to be uploaded to Vimeo or to be directly uploaded to my WordPress blog, so it was uploaded to my YouTube channel.
Once the video was uploaded to YouTube, it was embedded in this WordPress blog post.