Creative expression and meaningful connections.


Camp Creative Thunder magically progressed and developed over the next few days in the middle of July in Taos, New Mexico as each of us channeled our inner creative spirits. Jill Badonsky guided and facilitated the mesmerizing and fascinating experience as she immersed the eleven of us into activities that permitted us to express ourselves in a very safe environment. We were free from any rules that would limit our creative expression. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

After eight luscious hours of sound and restful sleep, Rick and I joined Jill and other campers for yoga at 7:15 a.m. The meditative stretching exercise was a magnificent way to start our day. Unfortunately, one of the participants experienced a bit of inexplicable vertigo (that was later attributed to both the altitude and perhaps a virus she may have picked up in her air travel). This pushed back our schedule a wee bit; but, it did not in any way negatively affect our overall experience other than that we were all concerned about our fellow-camper. Breakfast, which started promptly at 8 a.m. at the main lodge dining hall, was absolutely scrumptious and satisfying. There was more than enough food by the time Rick and I got there. Did I mention that all the meals except one dinner in town (in which to sample the local fare) was included in our retreat?

At 9:30 a.m. we all met at the Juniper House classroom to start our “creative abandon”. We all gathered into a circle as Jill had us do a getting-to-know-you toss game with bath scrunchies. It was a fabulous and fun, energetic game that took us out of our fear and into our inner child of curiosity and wonder. I was, like, “what are we going to do next?” Jill continued to fuel our wonder and imagination as we all took our places at the tables that were set around the classroom in a big “U”. We definitely had permission to be present, imperfect, and a kid again as we went through the “no rules” guidelines for writing creatively. The various prompts that Jill shared with us were beyond stimulating and engaging. I poured my thoughts quickly into my journal. There was absolutely no time to judge what we wrote, which proved to be quite liberating! Everything we wrote then became fodder for an “I am” poem. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

I am playful,
Empathic, and

I am exploring my horizons,
Improving myself
To my next norm.

I am one experience at a time
With not a worry or a rhyme
Or a reason.
Letting go of people-pleasing…etc.

After our creative writing experience, we did an art activity with a limited number of crayons, a limited amount of time and music in the background. We then came up with titles for each other’s art pieces. From these titles we were to utilize one or more these into a poem or short writing piece to share later in the evening. Each moment of our morning was filled with wonderfully engaging activities that completely allowed us to tap into our creative selves, which brought our lunch hour upon us quite quickly. After a great lunch, we had “free time” for a couple of hours in the early afternoon to create on our own, explore Taos, nap, or take care of securing a car left turn signal assembly, which is what Rick and I got to do (a couple days earlier we had an incident on the highway that caused our tire to lose its tread, shatter the front tire well of the driver’s side, and jettisoned my left turn signal assembly.)

At around 3:30 p.m. we reconvened and Jill shared Yoko Ono’s book called Grapefruit (1964) as a source of inspiration for our next writing experience. According to Wikipedia, Grapefruit has become famous as an early example of conceptual art, containing a series of “event scores” that replace the physical work of art with instructions that an individual may, or may not, wish to enact. For example:


Imagine the clouds dripping.
Dig a hole in your garden to
put them in.

1963 Spring

We spent the afternoon contemplating our own “event scores”. This activity was a bit challenging for me as it required me to stretch my imagination a bit more than I have grown accustomed (which was the main point of the retreat, right?). I was absolutely intrigued and fascinated as I started producing a few clever quips. Sharing our “instructions” with each other was delightful. Most of them unequivocally tickled my heart as they were written with humor. We took turns presenting our “event scores” up until dinner time. After dinner, we had a relaxed, unstructured, sharing circle in the courtyard gazebo. We were given the freedom to share whatever we wished with the group.

The most amazing part of our first 24 hours we had spent together was how comfortable we felt with each other. Our camaraderie was authentic, warm and friendly; and, we all felt secure and safe enough with each other to disclose whatever we truly wanted to communicate. This evening we knew that we were all connected in a profound way and bonds of friendship have been formed. And, we were all equally excited that we still had two more full days with Jill and each other. (More tomorrow.)

All rights reserved. ©2016 by A. K. Orobko

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