Notes on Camp 

In praise of uncushioned encounters with nature

WED 5/14

When I was a teenager it was just called camp, and it was loosely designated the "wilderness section" of an ordinary YMCA camp. We were 28 girls loosed into the wilds of Maine, resolutely wearing lipstick but determined to beat the Boy Scouts up the mountain, which we did, and get down the class 5 rapids with no fatalities. We did that too. We thought we were escaping the tedium of ordinary camp. Little did we know that, by choosing to be in the wilderness together with the bear and the moose and the dangers of knife-edged mountains, we were learning deep lessons about life no regular school was going to teach us. Jim Nevill and Padraic Rohan of the nonprofit Lifeschool Wilderness Adventure and Learning Program (an outgrowth of Rohan's experience teaching at the Harbor Way Continuation School in Richmond) understand the power of teenagers having an uncushioned encounter with nature. While Nevill and Rohan say their excursions are designed to expand "self-confidence and personal awareness in the outdoors," what they can't say is that out under a star-studded sky, teenagers can feel true shock and awe, which life at home or school may have obscured. This summer, the trips are to Desolation and Snow Mountain Wilderness areas, as well as to Point Reyes and Tahoe National Forest. Being in the wilderness can do a whole lot of the things our failing school system and childphobic culture can't and won't do: teach kids that life is an endless lesson and that every one of them matters. There's a sliding scale to boot. Info and registration: 707-876-3071 or www.life-school.org -- Ann Murphy

WED 5/14

Artistiquitos

The Lynn House Gallery (809 First St.), a restored turn-of-the-century home in Antioch's historic Rivertown district, becomes a highfalutin version of every parent's refrigerator through June 21, when the Young Artists' Showcase is on display. Drawings, paintings, and sculpture by tots, teenagers, and every stage and phase of life in between will be available for your perusal. Lynn House is open noon till 5 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and a select group of pieces will be on display at Antioch City Hall (Third and H streets) during normal business hours. Admission to both venues is free. Call 925-779-7018 for further details. -- Stefanie Kalem

5/17-5/18

Color Me

Dress for Mess

Kids can get as dirty as they want -- and call it art -- this weekend at the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA). The Saturday-Sunday Body Art sessions offer young creative types the chance to experiment with their fingers, toes, hands, and noses as they paint, trace, and otherwise decorate themselves under the guidance of MOCHA artists. It's all part of the "Weekend Workshops" series, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days, a drop-in activity for children currently in grade 1-6 and their families. Dress for mess. Tuition is $5, or free for MOCHA members. To find out more: www.mocha.org -- Kelly Vance

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