Recapping: Squam Art Workshops 2014

squam lake motion

To tell you the truth, before I went to Squam, I knew I would love it: crafting, classes, woods, friends, lake, hosting a fun event with my work teamies... these are all things I cherish. But the recaps I've read throughout the years were so effusive, with phrases like "magical experience" and "nurtured my spirit" and such, that it did cross my mind a few times: exactly how freakin' "magical" could this thing really be? 

Well, I gotta say, it was pretty darn magical. And yes, it really did nurture my spirit and left me deeply inspired. I loved it so much, and I am so grateful to Jess and Casey for bringing us here as a special Ravelry retreat!

SAW is held at the Rockwold-Deephaven Camps in Holderness, NH, which I think for most of the summer is sort of like the Catskills family camp where Dirty Dancing took place? During the Squam Art Workshops, the campgrounds are taken over by happy makers there for the classes (the teachers are fantastic), the nature, and the camaraderie with other creative types. The schedule was great - apparently it has varied a bit over the years, but this year attendees chose two classes, each six hours long, to take over the course of three days. The second class was divided up over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, which meant that we had the rest of those days open. There were optional activities we could do during that free time (yoga classes and special talks), or we could choose to go hiking, hang out in our cabins or at the docks or common areas, or go swimming in the lake (they also had kayaks and hydro-bikes to rent!). There were great evening events as well: a talk by Jared Flood, a poetry reading from Sarah Sousa, and the Saturday night Art Fair and Ravelry Revelry (which I wrote about on the work blog). 

Obviously this was all so relaxing! The most pressing decisions of my week seemed to be: get in the lake or take a yoga class? S'mores, an ice cream cone with sprinkles, or both? What a treat.

The first class I took was Narrative Truth, taught by Amy Gretchen. It was a photography class with a focus on telling stories and conveying emotions through our pictures, with some lessons on composition and technique to help us impart feeling into our photographs. I loved it, and it was a perfect class for the types of photos I like to take: capturing special little moments and the beauty around me in everyday life. I know I'll be thinking of Amy Gretchen's photo prompts and her emphasis on expressing the feeling behind the pictures whenever I take my camera out.

On the second and third days I took the Story in a Day class from David Anthony Durham, which was a creative writing class in which we worked on story prompt exercises and then wrote our own story. The thought of taking this class terrified me... which is exactly why I signed up for it. I can't think of a time in which I've ever written fiction (outside of school assignments) and I knew that this would be a safe, supportive environment for me to try this crazy thing. I am so, so glad I did. David's advice was practical and encouraging, the other students in class were supportive, and sure enough we all came up with stories! Feeling vulnerable but writing anyway, sharing our work in a cozy little lakeside cabin with the sounds of the water lapping against the dock in the background, was such a memorable experience. The act of pouring words out for something not-work-related was so much more fun than I expected. It definitely inspired me to start writing for fun - at least in this blog space again, and doing more journaling in my Project Life photo journal - and for that I am so thankful.

It was truly special, getting to have this experience with (and because of!) my Rav teamies. I know I'm so fortunate that a retreat with coworkers is something to get excited about, knowing that it will mean motivating, creative time with friends. Such joy! Squam: yep, it's super magical. I get it now. So grateful I had the chance to dive in.