“There’s a dinosaur in the cafeteria,” boomed the voice over the ferry’s loudspeaker.
“If he is yours, please come and claim him.” I laughed, as did everyone around me, and it struck me that kids on vacation usually have more fun than grownups.
Maybe that’s why I took a week-long film camp at the Galiano Island Film and Television School (GIFTS) on B.C.’s Gulf Islands.
GIFTS offers summer camp programs for kids interested in filmmaking. In the fall, they open the facility to adults.
“The students shown on your website look really … young,” I said to the camp administrator as I tried to describe someone over 19. “Do you get mature adults at your film camps?”
“Sure,” she replied.
“We have a 40-year-old registered next week and we’ve had people as old as 80.”
Convinced I could fit in, I signed up.
As I read the packing list, I saw anyone bringing alcohol or illegal drugs would be asked to leave immediately.
There would be no bonding over chardonnay nightcaps on this trip!
After dragging 20 kg of luggage through an airport, the Vancouver transit system, and two ferries, I arrived on Galiano Island, tired but nervous. Would the week bring new video skills or a pledge to never again leave my comfort zone?
I was greeted by George Harris, GIFTS executive director, who loaded his future filmmakers into a van for a short drive to camp (at only 27 km long, there are no long drives on Galiano).
The centre of camp was a courtyard — a multi-level deck surrounded by vividly-painted trailers. Each room had a bunk bed and a single bed — no ensuite bath, and no entertainment centre. M*A*S*H was a hit TV series when I last slept on a bunk bed, but it seemed a better choice than the mattress that looked like three chipmunks fighting in a bag.
A sign by the door read “No graffiti on the walls,” another reminder this was not a hotel. As well, we had to sign out to leave the grounds. I felt younger with every encounter of the rules!
At orientation, George said, “Remember to respect each other. Respect the equipment. And respect yourselves.” It was good advice; one day blurred into another as we wrote scripts, begged fellow travellers to act, shot scenes and edited our masterpieces.
At the end of each day there was scant time for reflection, but that was OK as there were scant places from which to reflect. There were no easy chairs or lounge areas, probably because children at play move until they hit the sack, and they are skinnier and sleep better as a result.
I embraced the intense but simple rhythm of camp life. We got up when the kitchen gong rang, shared ideas over meals, and worked until it was time to sleep. Like kids, we were uncomfortable when we first arrived at camp, but as we learned new skills, and laughed at our missteps, we had a blast.
We also came away with great films. After seeing our film on nature deficit disorder, George told my teammate and I, “You should enter this in a film festival!”
Perhaps I will. But for now, I ponder my next learning vacation. Spanish lessons? NASCAR driving? Hopefully, I can vacation like a child well into my 90s.
Carol Patterson of Kalahari Management Inc. has been speaking and writing about nature tourism and emerging destinations for two decades. When she isn’t travelling for work, she is travelling for fun. More of Carol’s adventures can be found at www.kalahari-online.com.