Pottery and Positivity

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It was a brisk morning today as camp gathered on the benches for Morning Watch. Everyone looked over the lake, blinking sleepy eyes as the morning birds chirped and the wind whistled through the branches. Andy Killebrew stepped up to lead us with a thought for the day, starting the morning with a story about positive attitude through perspective. He told us about his roommate in college going through a tough time and struggling to stay positive, and how he worked through it by adjusting his perspective and working on mindset. “By choosing to reframe his day in a deliberate and intentional way, he changed his focus to see everyday tasks as an opportunity, not an obligation.” Andy challenged us all to be similarly mindful throughout our day, practicing the Positive Attitude that is one of the four parts of our Falling Creek Code.

Patrick McGrady displaying some positive attitude (and mostly excitement!) about paddling during Morning AssemblyPatrick McGrady displaying some positive attitude (and mostly excitement!) about paddling during Morning Assembly

We often talk about the positive attitude that is needed during long hikes or challenging outdoor adventures, but we don’t always think about how the quieter in-camp activities can require those same skill sets too. Progressions in art can take a lot of time, patience, and positive attitude when projects don’t go as planned. In pottery especially, a lot can affect the clay between the time you start to shape it and the time it’s ready to finally glaze. Creations can crack during drying, pieces can heat up too fast and explode in the kiln, or pots can become warped and frustrating sometimes when throwing on the wheel. Progressing in pottery is not an easy task, so it takes a lot of time, practice, and a positive attitude.

All smiles at pottery!All smiles at pottery!

In pottery this morning, it was the last chance to finish new clay projects, since they need enough time to dry, be fired in the kiln, and get glazed before camp ends next Friday. Several boys were working hard on their final pieces, trying to finish today so they could move on in progressions. Will H. was working on his Warrior, the fifth and highest progression. One of the tasks in Warrior is to complete a series of works, and he had chosen to make a set of four bowls on the wheel. He was working on the last bowl, shaping and forming it as the wheel spun, trying to keep it even and smooth so it matched the other three.

Working on finishing their pieces in pottery.Working on finishing their pieces in pottery.

Keira, the head of pottery, talked the boys through their projects and gave them tips along the way. When Jack’s clay started to wobble and become off-centered, she told him, “Remember, you’re in charge. You tell the clay what to do.” He nodded and adjusted his hands, leaning into the clay until it yielded under his pressure and shaped back into an even form. Though this is Keira’s first summer with us at Falling Creek, she is hardly new to pottery. She has been a potter for several years, and worked at the Village Potter in the River Arts District of nearby Asheville. Her patience, knowledge, and level-headedness during lessons are exactly what we need at camp, and the boys love her. Ben even told me that he had switched his activity periods around to focus on progressions, and that he was in pottery for five periods straight today! It’s his favorite activity in camp, and his goal project is to make a “chip bowl” one day, with indentions in the bowl for all different salsas to go with his chips.

Keira instructing one of the boys in her pottery classKeira instructing one of the boys in her pottery class

Using a slab technique to roll the clay into an even thickness, then punch out shapes with a cookie cutter for projectsUsing a slab technique to roll the clay into an even thickness, then punch out shapes with a cookie cutter for projects

Will’s plan for his four bowl series was to glaze the finished bowls in alternating colors of green and blue. He had to work on his patience and positivity throughout the process, persevering even when it was tedious or frustrating. He says the hardest thing he had to make was a pinch pot. Even though a pinch pot is seemingly one of the most simple projects (you pinch out an indention from a ball of clay until it resembles a small bowl), he said it was surprisingly difficult to do well. He had to make sure the sides were an even thickness, but couldn’t overwork the clay to the point of it drying out. “What do you do when you’re frustrated?,” I asked him. “I kinda just take my hands off the clay and take a breath. I just take a break for a minute,” he explained. Will had to practice his Positive Attitude to get this far in his progressions, but he also had to practice perseverance and dedication, two aspects of the Warrior Spirit part of our code.

Will in one of his activities other than pottery, mastering the climbing wallWill in one of his activities other than pottery, mastering the climbing wall

At camp, there are a seemingly endless array of things to do, trips to go on, or activities to progress in. No matter what you choose to spend your time on, whether it’s an out-of-camp trip or an in-camp art class, the four parts of the Falling Creek Code still apply, and the common values shape the camp experience. Tomorrow will be the “one-week-to-go” marker, and we can’t believe how quickly June Camp is flying by!

Other Highlights of Today Include:

  • Weather: it was in the high 60s to 70s all day, making for refreshingly crisp mornings and perfectly cool afternoons. We’re loving the sunshine!

  • Breakfast: egg and sausage bake, hashbrowns with cheese, fruit and yogurt bar, and a grits bar

  • Lunch: chicken nuggets (always a favorite!) with tater tots, roasted corn, and sliced pears, plus ice cream sandwiches for dessert

  • Dinner: Cheese ravioli with red sauce, roasted broccoli, and italian bread The salad bar had antipasto with fresh mozzarella, pepperoncinis, salamis, different types of olives, and fresh pepper sprinkled on top. Grape, orange, or cherry popsicle for dessert to top it all off.

  • We celebrated Ryland M.’s belated 14th birthday at lunch today! He was on the Looking Glass climbing 3-day during his actual birthday, so we saved the cake and singing for when he returned.

  • Green and Gold teams are tied! 275 points each, but Tuesday is another chance for redemption.

  • Evening Programs: Tribal campfires for the older Tuscarora and Iroquois boys. This is a chance to break into smaller groups for more meaningful conversations around the campfire. Cherokee and Catawba cabins played fun games in the “thunder dungeon” and on the field.

-Annie Pharr

Nothing like a chilly dip after going down Pisgah’s Sliding Rock today!Nothing like a chilly dip after going down Pisgah’s Sliding Rock today!

Forging steel at blacksmithing!Forging steel at blacksmithing!