Campfire Night 2: Wind, Rain, and Snow

The weather was magical all day. You looked out the window and felt like you were the main attraction in the middle of the snow globe. And the child that globe was just gifted to continued shaking and shaking and shaking so the snow continued to flutter and flutter and flutter around the windows all day long.

(On the down side, you know what that means: no Campfire. We’ll have to hold off on s’mores one more day.)

This morning, the Fellows came down to breakfast, convening quietly before the real convening.

At the outset of Campfire, Lori opens with the extraordinary story of Jake’s life, his accomplishments, his trajectory. She sets a tone of vulnerability and trust by sharing the details of Jake’s tragic and unexpected death. And then she invites the latest Campfire Fellows into his legacy. “Jake was my first loyal antagonist,” she says before breaking into a longer explanation of loyal antagonism as exemplified by Al Smith and Belle Moskowitz, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.

The Fellows all sit in a circle so that they can see Lori and each other. At the risk of sounding cultish, there is a magic rock, an opening mantra, a sort of liturgy to move through to get yourself centered. To become, as Lori reminds us, fully present. We’re all so often in the past or the future. We have our faces tilted at an angle - toward our devices - and when we’re not on the tilt, we’re thinking about our inbox or our mailbox or something that ensures we are decidedly not present in the present. So we repeat the prescribed phrase, state our intention, remind ourselves, “In this moment, I…” before we settle into the moment and repeat, “And, with that, I am checked in.”

And checked in is where everyone stays. Through the magic of the mantra and the circle and the activities and the facilitators and the Fellows, everyone stays fully present and attentive through what might otherwise be a long day of leadership and storytelling and development. This is a new way of being for almost everyone and Campfire Fellows are always improbably well-suited to it, hungry for the opportunity, insatiably curious, and willing to find (and push) their own edge.