camp-more

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Scenes from the Dakota Access Pipeline protester camps

[IMAGES: Glimpses of the Sacred Stone Camp near the town of Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and the adjacent Seven Councils Camp in Morton County. Both camps are where people are living who are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Community organizer Joye Braun who has been at the Sacred Stone Camp since April said the number of people in both camps is 1500 or more but could soon swell up to 7000 people.]

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Bigfoot and I went to watch OtGW together, but the internet went out and we were having so many technical issues that we decided to just sit and chat instead. Then, suddenly, two camp directors burst through the doors and kidnapped him for his goal ceremony! He was blindfolded and dragged out the door, then into the golf cart. I pursued them as quietly as I could, and ended up sprinting full-speed through the woods in the dark - wearing shorts. I got more than a little stinging nettle, but the burning has mostly faded. I chased them across camp before they caught sight of the reflected headlights in my glasses - one jumped out and chased after me until I hid myself in a ditch. I then hid under a car for a while until they left, thinking they had dropped a couple of people off in the woods, but I heard no voices and realized I’d been mistaken. I heard them careening around camp for another fifteen minutes and realized I stood no chance of keeping up, so I headed back to the dining hall to wait for their return, hiding from curfew in the fireplace.

Bigfoot just got back, at a loss for words. “That was the most intensely cult-y experience I’ve ever had,” he said, and walked off without a goodnight.

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One month ago today began the week long adventure that would absolutely change my life. Camp More was the biggest blessing to ever come my way. Not only did I get to spend a week with the person who has continually kept my alive, but I had the opportunity to undergo a transformation of a lifetime. 
By the end of Day 1, I honestly felt more connected to the other 16 campers and the 7 mentors than I have ever felt towards anyone in my entire life. Through late nights in the girls cabins, cuddle piles on the floor, self-growth workshops, opening our hearts and souls to each other, and ultimately sharing our life stories, we were all able to become more than 17 best friends….we were a family.
In just 7 days, I was able to find a home with Camp More, and having to leave these incredible inspiring souls behind has left me eternally homesick. 
Camp More taught me that I deserve all of the happiness and love I have found in this life. It taught me what it means to be alive and that I will be living this life for a long long time. I learned that age does not define ability and that I am fully capable of being the positive change I want to see in the world, and my dream of saving people through my writing is not even remotely unrealistic. My campers taught me what it felt like to be completely understood and they fully embraced me and who I am. I felt completely myself around them, which is something I haven’t been able to do in a very long time. 
I developed a greater sense of compassion, empathy, and understanding, which is really the one component that our world is truly missing. When we are able to open our hearts and empathize with one another, even if we cannot identify with their direct experience, understanding each other’s emotions leads to a greater sense of peace and love. We have all felt sadness, emptiness, anger, fear, and grief. And we have all felt happiness, love, and the feeling of truly being alive. It is when we can identify those emotions in ourselves and each other that we are able to fully embrace our differences and love other people.
Camp taught me that I need to communicate my needs, because there is no shame in asking for help. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable and fully opening yourself up to someone else. It can be the scariest thing you will ever do, but the outcome is priceless. 
Having spent a week at camp with absolutely no contact with the outside world, I learned the importance of being unplugged sometimes. When we are able to be present in every moment and truly be in tune with our emotions and in touch with others and the world around us, we will be significantly happier. Happiness is found in simplicity, and if we can learn to be more aware of the small things, like a butterfly, the warmth of a sunny day, a great hug, a gorgeous sunset, or an infinite starry sky, life will seem so much more beautiful and so much more worth living every day. Today, I am alive and I am able to love myself for every breath I take.
The greatest part about Camp More being turned into a documentary, is the fact that people of all ages from all over the world can see the work that we did and be inspired to step out of their comfort zones and apply the same skills in their own lives. I truly believe that the stories my fellow campers and I have been lucky enough to share will go very far and truly change the world. 
Thank you to Be More Heroic and the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding for giving me the chance to alter myself, my perspective, and my life. Thank you for giving me enough courage, bravery, resilience,and strength to take the world head on and be the person I want to be. Thank you to my campers for giving me a family and for being my home. Thank you for loving me. I am so thankful to have been given this experience and I cannot wait to co-create a beautiful world with these incredible souls.

 - Jamie :)