5 Reasons You Need to Get to MuseumCamp (Including a Group Floss!)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my adventure to Santa Cruz for MuseumCamp! I can’t say enough good things about my experience, but I’ve come up with 5 reasons you’ve GOT to apply for MuseumCamp next year.

The Place

First of all, Santa Cruz is absolutely beautiful. The weather is perfect. The town is adorable. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History provides the perfect backdrop for an immersive unconference experience. The MAH’s spaces are comfortable and well-designed to support creative engagement and learning experiences. We always had somewhere to sit, to write, to think, to share. And having the delicious food and drink options from Abbott Square Market didn’t hurt either!

Getting to spend the night there? Even better. But bring your ear plugs and an eye mask.

The People

MuseumCamp wouldn’t be camp without the campers. And what a spectacular group of people I got to know this year. Over 100 changemakers from all over the world. Australia, New Zealand, England, I made new friends from places I can only dream of visiting right now. I know that I can reach out to any of the people I met at MuseumCamp with an idea, a question, even to ask a favor, and I know I’ll get their support. It’s an incredibly empowering experience to have such a supportive and powerful network of changemakers on my side.

The Bonding Experience

Nothing bonds like a group floss. Seriously. As part of Wednesday evening’s “Power Hour of Fun,” led by the kickass Elise Granata, campers broke down any awkwardness that might have been present, built new friendships, and raced through 60 one-minute-long activities. Activities including a minute of high fives, a minute of arm wrestling, a minute of marker tattoos on each other, a minute of selfies, and yes, even a minute of a group floss!

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Arm wrestling with Nell Taylor from Read/Write Library Chicago during the Power Hour of Fun!

The Changemaking Challenge

The 30-Day Changemaking Challenge took most of our time on Thursday of camp. We broke into groups, each themed around a different aspect of the changemaking process. I was assigned to Team E: Reflect and Share. It’s so important to always keep reflecting on what we’re doing as we’re trying to make change. How else do we know that what we’re doing is working? Sharing and getting feedback gives us opportunities to keep doing even better work. We even got feedback from our fellow campers about our ideas – a structured part of the challenge was time to share our ideas and see what others thought before having time to edit and make additional changes.

We worked hard to create concrete activities that we could take home and share with others. Some were quick things to incorporate into our every day lives, others took more time and effort. Our group came up with the five following activities for “reflect and share:”

  1. Convene a “share back” group using transformative justice methods (toolkits online).
  2. Visit a stakeholder at their site and actively listen to their perspectives.
  3. Identify 3 accomplishments or learning moments from your change making experience. Share in 3 new places.
  4. Write a 10-second response to “how are you?” Share authentically about your project or life.
  5. Create a movie poster that encapsulates the plot of your changemaking experience.

Be on the lookout for a 30-Day Changemaking Challenge poster, coming soon!

The Leadership Opportunities

Leadership opportunities were -everywhere- at MuseumCamp. From opportunities to step up in our group project to giving lightning talks to offering up ideas during unconference sessions, if you wanted to be a leader at MuseumCamp, you totally could. And in a safe, brave environment that provided the chance to try and fail and try again with the support of colleagues.

MuseumCamp, like anything else in life, is all about what you make it. But if you’re able to throw yourself in fully, the experience is like nothing else.

Until next year, MuseumCamp!