Camp History and Culture

Heart in iceWhat to Expect at Winter Witchcamp…

We honor the Reclaiming Tradition’s core values, including caring for the environment, our families, and our communities, and embracing diversity of all kinds, including diversity of gender and sexual orientation. However, you must be at least 18 years of age to attend camp. Camp is a clean and sober space.

The pay as you can fees for Winter Witchcamp include all activities, lodging for four nights in heated, gender open (see below) dormitory style cabins, all meals, snacks and beverages.

Camp begins Thursday early afternoon, February 16th and ends Monday early afternoon, February 20th, 2017. We ask that you plan to attend camp for the entire time, as late arrivals or early departures impact not only your experience, but also that of the whole camp community. Camp is an intensive retreat experience where all will sleep onsite and eat meals together. This magically works best if we all remain onsite the whole time.

Space is limited. When camp fills up we will begin a waiting list to fill any cancellations.

Cancellations and refunds: we will work with campers who cancel and need to request a refund, and our process will take into account factors such as individual need, camp’s fundraising efforts, and camp attendance, with an ultimate goal of harmony for both camp and our campers.

Contact us at: WWCRegister@gmail.com or call 320-428-0193 and leave a message if you have questions.


Community Traditions

Winter Witchcamp has a set of Pagan Prayer Beads, a beautiful tool that holds some of the magic of our camp. We traditionally read the Prayer in whole or in part at the opening and closing of camp.

We honor the Runes and the Norse Mysteries. We are aware that some who honor those Mysteries are also white supremacist. We clearly do not align with those beliefs and work toward social justice as well as honoring diversity and multiplicity in all of its forms in our tradition. We embrace the Reclaiming Principles of Unity and as such we share some culture with other Reclaiming groups, such as, affinity groups (see below) and “twinkling”  or hissing in agreement or empathy with something expressed by another.  Twinkling is raising a hand, palm outward, and waving the fingers – think ASL applause or “jazz hands”.

Gold Freyja maskWithin the Norse mysteries, for many years Freyja has been our gracious host in our ritual halls. She has come among us many times and calls some to work with her more directly and deeply.

At camp there is a mask of Freyja that passes to someone selected by magical calling (traditionally through raffle selection) each year.  This person takes the mask home to be in Freyja’s presence and in deeper relationship with her until the next camp.  Put this mask on, or sleep with it nearby, and watch out for Freya working in your life!

In past, there has been a mask for Freyja’s partner Odr, but at this time Odr is about his own workings with the mask.  He may return some future year.

Brisingamen necklace pictureBrisingamen is known as Freyja’s treasured necklace.  It is so closely associated with her that it is often seen as a direct representation of Freyja, her authority and her magic.  Amber and gold are said to be formed from Freyja’s tears.  Each year the teaching team of witch camp gifts this beautiful golden and amber version of Brisingamen to someone at camp to carry and wear as a priestess of Freyja for the following year, diving deeper into her mysteries and power.  This necklace is gifted to the next camper in the closing ritual of the following camp.

 

At Winter Witchcamp we often conduct a raffle and other activities to raise money for financial sustainability of the camp. Each year’s raffle is shaped a little differently, so watch the camper emails for more information.

Ritual clothing has been both a way of sharing with other community members, as well as a way to raise money in past.  Consider bringing ritual clothing that needs to find a home with other witches in other rituals.  Please remember to keep the items accessible by bringing them scent-free.  There will be racks hanging in the ritual hall for community members to peruse and select.  Items can also be worn at camp for rituals and returned to the racks.

In addition to beautiful hand-me-on ritual clothing, there are several talented creators each year who bring their own works of art and beauty to share with and sell to the community.  You may want to bring some extra funds for these beautiful things, as well as for raffle items.

There is so much more to share. Check back here as we add to this section in the future! Feel free to contact us if you have specific questions.

Ice in the labyrinth pictureCamp Song

In 2016 Max and Willow Firefly created a lovely new song to be used as our camp song.

For days and years we all have come
In winter’s kiss we’re drawn down deep
For days and years we’ll come again
Embracing mystery’s golden sleep

 


Striving for a More Accessible, Scent-Safer Camp

At Winter Witchcamp we are working to minimize the use of scented products because of the negative effects they can have on people with chemical injury, chemical sensitivity, scent allergies, and other related needs. For individuals with a variety of physical and neurologic conditions (chronic workplace exposure to toxins and chemicals, brain injury, prior or current chemotherapy, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other conditions and life events), exposure to fragrance and/or scent is not an inconvenience but a serious, adverse health event.

Below are some considerations for more accessible events as written by Basil Shadid and found on this blog. Winter Witchcamp is striving for these conditions and in addition to reducing fragrance at our site, has fragrance free toiletries available in all bathrooms at Camp to help attendees.

MOST ACCESSIBLE:

  • No smoking at or near the event space throughout the entire event
  • Ask participants to not wear clothes that have been smoked in
  • No colognes, perfumes or essential oils
  • Ask participants to wear clothes that have not been exposed to perfumes, colognes or scented oils, laundry detergents or fabric softeners
  • Ask participants to refrain from using scented body and haircare products before or during the event.
  • Fragrance free seating or space set aside
  • Air purifiers used to increase air quality
  • Building checked for issues like paint and outgassing materials. Other event space chosen if current one has recent chemical use.
  • Remove offending chemical materials from space (air fresheners, chemical cleaners)
  • Clean with non-toxic cleaning products before event.

Some additional resources on scent and fragrance impact we like:

Fragrance Free Femme of Colour Realness

Three Steps to Organizing a Fragrance Free Event

How To Be Fragrance Free

If your organization does work to reduce scent impact and has resources to share, please send them to wwcregister@gmail.com.


Mental Health and Wellness at Camp

Winter Witchcamp is an official Reclaiming camp. Part of our roots as a tradition are in recovery community and we honor that in our official Reclaiming gatherings. This means that participants are asked to be drug and alcohol free during the length of camp, and to not bring alcohol or recreational drugs to camp. (If this is not followed, the Weavers may ask you to leave.) However, prescription drugs, medicinal herbs, nicotine, and caffeine are allowed. Cigarette smoking is only allowed in the designated outdoor smoking area. Any medication prescribed to you by a physician should be continued before, during, and after camp. Please bring enough of this medication to last you for the duration of camp, as there is no physician available onsite to issue a prescription.

Camp can be emotional and, as a magical space, it can be more challenging to track our mundane commitments, such as taking prescribed medication. If you are on medication, please find a way to track that you are taking it as prescribed (e.g., set alarms on your phone or ask a buddy for support). Please do not stop your medication abruptly at this time, as camp might not be the best place to make impactful decisions. Even though for many participants it is a healing space and experience, camp is not a substitute for therapy, medication, or medical attention. If things are stirred at camp, we invite you to seek adequate support from a range of appropriate sources.

We have some campers who are licensed therapists, mental health workers, or first responders.  They have volunteered to provide some emergency mental health support if needed. These individuals are unable to make medical diagnoses, provide therapy or prescribe medications. However, they can offer supportive and attentive listening and assess whether further support might be needed including calling for emergency services. Please know that  everyone’s safety and well-being is our top priority in these situations.


Other Support at Camp

Affinity Groups – Like many other Reclaiming camps, Winter Witchcamp engages in the magic of affinity groups as a way to support and add to the transformations and processes that are part of each camp’s rituals and stories. Affinity groups are primarily determined by random selection, to let the mystery of potential work through the creation of groups for camp, and to allow everyone the possibility of meeting new people or making different connections to those they know. We also honor those who wish to form their own Affinity Groups around subject, identity, activity, or some other way of organizing.  Affinity group selection magic is performed the first day of camp, and groups meet at set times throughout the camp days, with time to have each person’s experience witnessed in loving active listening and those who request it to receive feedback about what they have shared.

Accessibility Sidekicks – When someone would find it useful to have specific support to make camp more accessible, we work to make connections between folks who need support and sidekicks who can provide that support. This could be short help like carrying luggage and making up a bed, or it could be more like companionship in navigating camp spaces throughout the camp. When you request a sidekick on your registration form, we’ll connect you to a willing sidekick (or several) and you can negotiate what you need.

New Camper Buddies – A new camper buddy is someone who has been to Winter Witchcamp previously and can be a bridge for new campers experiencing the wonderful and intense panorama of camp activities. A camper buddy might check in with you to make sure you have someone to eat with if you want that. A buddy is someone who can answer the random question you have when you see them around camp. A buddy can connect you to the right person or information and make sure you’re feeling okay navigating all of it. New camper buddies will be at new camper orientation.


Restoration Process

Winter Witchcamp has a threefold process for conflict resolution and accountability at camp headed up by a Harmony Restoration Cell comprised of 2 weavers and 3 community members who will be selected from a pool of applicants.

Branch 1 – Harmony Restoration (Conflict Resolution)
Community members are trained before camp and then are available (in rotation or shifts) at camp to support harmony in times of conflict. If needed, an unresolved situation may be brought to the integrity process or balancing process cells. We offer a training in conflict resolution paid for by Winter Witchcamp.

Branch 2 – Balancing Process (Appeals)
A person who has a concern about a leadership decision submits a letter or recording (audio or visual) to the Weavers. The issue goes to the Harmony Restoration Cell, and the Continuity Teacher if needed. The group meets with the person putting in the concern to discuss the issue. The cell then makes a recommendation for action which goes to the Weavers for final approval and then the cell will report back to the person.

Branch 3 – Integrity Process (Accountability)
A person/group impacted by another’s behavior submits a letter or recording (audio or visual) to the Cell. The group meets to discuss the issue with the person who was named in the concern and the person/group naming the concern (if appropriate). The group will then meet alone to make a recommendation for action which goes to the Weavers for final approval, and then to the person.

Recommendations for action may include a mediated meeting with the person impacted (if desired by either person and consented to), a list of actions to be taken by the person in order to engage with camp in a safe and appropriate manner, a decision to ask the person to step down from leadership, or a decision to ask the person not to return to camp for a pre-determined amount of time. The last two will be done only in extreme situations, where a person is a danger to themselves or others, or when they will not comply with the requested action. Any mediation will be conducted by a harmony restorer. The person named is welcome to appeal via the balancing process.


Pronoun Use

As a tradition, Reclaiming recognizes and celebrates the full spectrum of gender identities. Campers will have opportunities to share their personal pronouns several times during camp. We encourage campers to be considerate around utilizing people’s personal pronoun designations. Being silly with this aspect of camp culture could be taken as a sign of disrespect as it can be an area of great sensitivity. Please be mindful that we all have unique experiences and perspectives. Cisgender campers are encouraged to think seriously about their gender identity and recognize that using the appropriate pronouns for themselves is an act of solidarity with trans* campers.

Here is more information about pronoun round etiquette:  http://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/pronoun-round-etiquette/


Lodging and Facility Details

Most of our camp housing is in cozy heated bunk houses with anywhere from 6 to 12 people per room. Some of the larger bunk buildings do have restrooms within the same building, in case that is something you require or desire. Also, there is a place on the registration form to indicate whether you need a lower bunk for mobility or medical reasons.

There are 2 private cabin rooms that can house a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 people each. We offer these at an additional cost of $200 each (so for 2 people it’s $100 extra per person, or $67 each for 3, or $50 each for 4).

Please contact us to request these private cabins and give us all names of those campers who will stay there. These cabins will be given out in the order they are requested. (Note that these cabins do not have an attached restroom.)


Gender Open Cabins and Restrooms

Our camp aims to be gender-fluid and gender inclusive. This means that we recognize, honor, and celebrate more than just the two genders that are typically accepted by mainstream society.  Our camp is designed to provide all attendees–regardless of gender history, gender expression, or sexual orientation–a place of safety and welcome.

As part of that goal, all of our cabins and restrooms are gender open, meaning these facilities are shared with people of all genders, including women, men, and trans* people of a variety of other gender identities. All toilet stalls and showers have doors or curtains to provide privacy.

Also, as part of the Reclaiming Tradition we embrace the Reclaiming Principles of Unity, which state the following: “We welcome all genders, all gender histories, all races, all ages and sexual orientations and all those differences of life situation, background, and ability that increase our diversity. We strive to make our public rituals and events accessible and safe.”

Here are a few resources about gender open restrooms if you’d like to learn more:

Transgender Law Center: Public Accommodations

Five Points for Non-Trans People About Public Bathroom Use

Article on Huffington Post: Transgender People Need Safe Bathrooms

Ted Talk by Ivan E Coyote: “We all need a safe place to pee”


Archives

Past Stories and Themes from Winter Witchcamps back to the beginning (2003 was our first year)