Camp Scripps

Without the formality of a reunion, Camp Scripps allows alumnae of all years to connect, relax, and, most of all, have fun. Campers talk about everything-from flower pressing to “Whatever happened to so-and-so?” to what’s going on in their lives today. They look forward to the workshops-all alumnae-led-where they write poetry, discuss art or literature, practice yoga or tai chi, and have a chance to explore almost three-dozen interests their lives might not usually accomodate.

These women spend Thursday through Sunday at Scripps, without kids, work, grocery shopping, cooking, business calls or customer, clients, or tests. Instead, they enjoy catered meals, the Scripps campus. “Bolly wood” films, and henna tattoos. It sounds so good, it’s hard to imagine there are some alumnae who choose not to attend.

This year’s group talked about what brought them to Camp the first time. Several were turned off by the name, “Camp,” which conjured up visions of pork and beans and leaky tents. But it’s camp, Scripps-style, which means separate glasses for water and iced tea and a dorm room all your own. Plus, there are late-night mysteries and movies, tea in Seal Court, and a dip in the gorgeous new pool.

Planning for the first Camp Scripps started in 1989. when several poets from the class of 1969 decided to put together a summer writing conference for alumnae. They first envisioned a weekend of faculty-led workshops, but through a series of meetings, pared it down to what they really wanted: Scripps women together, doing what they love, sharing what they’ve learned.

So, for the past ten summers, alumnae have gathered at Scripps to enjoy the campus and one another. They like to see Scripps from a different vantage point: one not obscured by papers, projects, readings, problem sets, theory, labs, and all the other trappings of academia. Now they can see the beauty of the campus everyone always talks about, and now they don’t need to discuss cultural, political, and socio-economic factors before hearing a panel on “shaping the public good.” At workshops, alumnae take a break from their ordinary patterns and see other women’s lives in art and story, or learn skills they may never “use” or “need,” or take turns sharing their passions with other passionate Scripps women.

At one especially passionate workshop, “Unleashing Stress Through the Human-Animal Bond,” Marji McWee ’83 talked about volunteering with animals to help people. She takes her dog, Montana, to a high school for autistic teens, where he calms human storms, and she teaches everyday-living skills, such as how to greet strangers and build stable relationships. Montana is what Maji calls a “therapy dog”: he helps people overcome their own social barriers and can help calm a dangerously angry person before harm is done.

Marji introduced campers to animal volunteering with a thorough presentation, 30-page handout, stacks of flyers, and her trained puppy, Atticus. The attending alumnae were full of questions, and the workshop ran well over time, a fine example of the relaxed atmosphere that lets campers nuke the most of every experience.